Professional electricians are among the busiest of the building trade pros, for the simple reason that most homeowners are slightly nervous about electricity and would rather call than try to tackle such work themselves. And generally speaking, this is a good investment, since a qualified electrician will do the job right, and probably a lot faster than you can. But to avoid unpleasant surprises, it's important to know something about the costs of professional help.
Understanding Electrician Labor Costs
Professional electricians typically charge a flat service fee for making the visit, plus an hourly rate for the labor. The service "call-out" fee can range from $50 to $100 depending on geography, with the hourly labor running an additional $40 to $120 per hour, depending on where you live and the skill level of the electrician who does your work.
It can be difficult to book an electrician to perform a single small job since there is little profit margin in it. Where possible, it makes sense to have the electrician complete a number of tasks in the same service call, which will let you get the most out of the service call-out fee. Having a group of light fixtures installed, for example, is more cost-effective on a per-fixture basis than having a single light fixture installed.
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Repairing or Replacing an Outlet Receptacle or Switch
This is a very quick job, but the electrician will charge you for a minimum period of labor time, plus the call-out fee. Costs for a few minutes work typically range from $100 to $150. You may want to have the electrician replace several outlets during the service call to get the most out of his or her visit.
Considering that outlet receptacles can cost as little as $3 each, you can save a considerable amount of money if you learn to replace outlet receptacles yourself.
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Grounding an Outlet
If you have an older home with 2-slot outlet receptacles that you need to turn into a 3-slot grounded outlets to accept 3-prong plugs, it's quite an easy task for an experienced electrician, provided the fuse box or circuit breaker panel is grounded. The labor involved will be about 30 minutes, but you'll likely pay for the call-out fee, as well, for a total cost of around $100 to $150. Most of the cost here is in the service call-out fee, not the labor for the work. Here's an instance where you should have all the required updates done at the same time.
However, if the electrician needs to establish grounding at the main fuse panel or circuit breaker panel, you can expect the costs to at least double.
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Replacing a Standard Outlet Receptacle with a GFCI
Where the electrician is simply replacing a standard outlet receptacle with a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter), this is an easy project that costs between $120 and $150 for the service call and a short amount of labor. If the job involves running cable and adding a new outlet location, expect to pay from $200 to $250.
This project, too, is well within the reach of a homeowner armed with the right information. Installing a GFCI receptacle yourself will cost $15 to $25.
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Installing a New Outlet or Switch
Installing new outlet or switch where none exists involves creating an opening in the wall, fishing new cable to a power source, installing a new wall box and device, and making the connections. Average cost for this work ranges from $150 to $200, since it is a relatively quick project for a skilled electrician—requiring about 30 minutes of work.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Installing a 220/240-Volt Outlet
Wiring a 220/240 volt outlet for an electric clothes dryer or range is not really any harder than wiring a standard outlet, but it can cost more because the electrician may need to run conduit, reorganize circuit breakers in the main panel, or install a new circuit breaker. The electrician will price his work according to the length of cable that needs to be run and the amount of labor time he anticipates.
Average costs for a journeyman electrician to install a 220/240-volt outlet is about $300.
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Installing Three-Way Switches
A skilled electrician can install a set of three-way switches in 1 to 2 hours. Expect to pay $200 to $500 if the electrician is installing switches in two locations, requiring new cables and wall boxes. If the electrician will be making use of an existing switch location and adding one additional switch, costs should run between $150 and $250.
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Replacing a Circuit Breaker
Circuit breakers may eventually wear out, and when they do, few homeowners are comfortable working in the main service panel to replace the breaker themselves. Nationally, the average costs for having an electrician replace a bad circuit breaker switch is $150 to $200, including labor and materials.
However, this is actually a relatively easy job, and a homeowner who knows something about wiring can easily replace a circuit breaker for the cost of the device—which can range from about $10 to $40, depending on the type of breaker.
Saving money is not a sufficient reason for doing your own electrical repairs unless you are knowledgeable and have a good comfort level with your skills. Electricity behaves in a very logical fashion that becomes easy to understand with experience, but it can and does kill people who make mistakes.
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Updating the Electrical Service
If you’re like a lot of people in older homes, it is likely that the electrical service is under-rated for the demands of a modern home and the electric appliances they contain. The 60-amp services that were once standard were installed at a time when most heating appliances ran on gas. In today's homes, 100-amp service is regarded as the bare minimum, and even this will be insufficient for larger homes or those that have many electric appliances. A 200-amp service is now common for large homes, and 400-amp service is often installed for very large homes with many electric appliances, such as swimming pool heaters and radiant floor systems.
- Upgrading to 100-amp service: $850 to $1,600
- Upgrading to 200-amp service: $1,300 to $2,500
- Upgrading to 400-amp service: $2,000 to $4,000
When an electrician upgrades the electrical service, he will install a new meter, disconnect, entry wires, weather head, and circuit breaker panel. He will not, however, replace any circuit wiring or install any new circuits for this base cost.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Rewiring a House
Costs for rewiring a house that has an old installation, such as knob-and-tube wiring, can vary considerably depending on how accessible the wiring is, and on whether other improvements are being made at the same time, such as a main service upgrade or adding new circuits. Rewiring a home where walls need to be opened up to run new cables will cost considerably more than one where cables can easily be run through wall, ceiling, and floor cavities.
Average Costs by Home Size
- 1,000-square-foot home: $2,700 ($1,600 to $3,800)
- 1,200-square-foot home: $3,200 ($1,900 to $4,500)
- 1,500-square-foot home: $3,900 ($2,300 to $5,600)
- 2,000-square-foot home: $5,400 ($3,200 to $7,600)
- 2,500-square-foot home: $6,600 ($3,900 to $9,400)
- 3,000-square-foot home: $8,100 ($4,800 to $11,400)
This kind of rewiring job includes removing as much outdated wiring as possible and running new NM cable and connecting it to existing devices and breakers. Costs will increase if you are also replacing fixtures and devices or updating the main service.
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Wiring a New House or New Addition
Wiring a new home or new addition is generally slightly cheaper than the costs of rewiring an existing system. This is because the rough-in wiring is done while walls and ceilings are open, making it much easier to run cables.
A fairly accurate estimate of rough-wiring costs can be calculated by determining linear footage of all walls, and multiplying by $8. For example, an average 2,000 square-foot house typically has about 450 linear feet of walls. Costs to wire the house are about $3,800 on a national average.
Note that while these rough-in costs include cable and electrical boxes, they do not include the installation of the devices or light fixtures, which comprise an additional cost.
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Wiring a Garage
It's fairly common for an old garage to be without electrical service altogether, but the 2017 update to the NEC (National Electrical Code) requires that a garage be served by at least one 20-amp circuit with at least one GFCI-protected duplex receptacle near each vehicle bay. This circuit cannot serve outlets on the exterior wall of the garage.
Generally speaking, you are not required to update an existing garage to meet new code requirements, but you may want to do so in order to comply with code. And it can be a selling feature if you are planning to sell your home.
Costs for this work can vary depending on the complexity of the work. For example, if the garage is detached, requiring an underground feeder cable delivering a new circuit, the cost will be considerably more than if you are simply extending wiring to an attached garage. Or, if you are installing 240-volt receptacles for recharging an electric car, the costs will be more.
Costs for adding circuits to a garage range from $1,000 to $4000, with the high end of the range representing detached garages where an underground feeder cable must be buried beneath ground running from the main service panel to the garage.
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Wiring a Basement
Finishing a basement is a very common home remodeling project, and part of this work involves adding one or more electrical circuits, wall outlets, and light fixtures. Typical costs for wiring a 1,000 square-foot basement area runs from $800 to $1,500. The lower price range is for large open spaces; the higher costs are for basements that are subdivided into separate rooms. Costs can go up if an electrical sub-panel is required, or if your basement will have elaborate multimedia wiring.
This cost involves running cable, installing boxes, and making connections. Costs of light fixtures and other devices are additional.