Electrical Tools You Need

Various electrical tools

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Like any other project you may try to tackle, electrical work will require a few tools to accomplish the job. If you are like other electricians, you will likely have a few bags of tools that you use almost every day. Many people use almost every tool in their tool bag at one time or another during the day.

This is a partial list of tools needed to take care of most electrical jobs. These tools are readily available at most building material outlet stores or electrical wholesale stores. There are different manufacturers of similar tools, but if you're in the electrical trade, you know which tools to buy. The quality of some brands can last a career, while other tool manufacturer tools are throwaway tools.

If you are a serious electrician depending on your tools to get the job done, tool cost is not a problem. Quality over price savings is what is important. Choosing wisely will give you quality tools and make your job much easier. Hopefully, the descriptions below will help you in selecting the proper tools for the type of electrical projects you will encounter.

Fish Tape

fish tape is used to pull stranded or solid wire through metal or PVC conduit. Cable lube is available to assist you in pulling the wires through the pipe.

Tape Measure

A tape measure is used to measure the heights for switches and outlets. You will also need it to center lighting fixture boxes.


A voltmeter is used to check voltages and verify that circuits are indeed “live.” There are many manufacturers of these testers with various options available. Choose the voltmeter that serves your needs.


A hammer is used to secure boxes equipped with nail-on brackets to studs in a home. You’ll also need it to drive Romex straps when adding new Romex wiring in a home.

Channel Lock Pliers

Channel lock pliers are used to take knockouts out of the boxes, tighten down Romex connectors in the boxes, and adjust expansion-type ceiling-fan boxes.

Wire Strippers

Wire strippers are used to cut the insulation off of the wire. They are equipped with different sized cutting teeth for various sized wires. They also have a cutoff portion to cut the wire.

Non-Contact Voltage Detector

A voltage detector is used for a quick safety check to see if there is voltage or current flow present. Some of these devices are automatic and some must be turned on via a switch. Simply place the end of the tracer beside a wire, breaker or cord to see if it’s energized.

Side Cutter Diagonal Pliers

These cutting pliers, sometimes called side snips, are used to cut wire. They are specially designed with a cutting edge that goes down to the tip of the pliers. The advantage is that you can get into tight areas to trim wires. Some are equipped with live wire detection capabilities.

Linesman Pliers

These pliers are the do-it-all pliers. They cut, twist wires together, and grip wires for pulling. They have a squared-off end that is great for twisting wires together, a center cutting blade for cutting wire, and a grip area between the handles to pull wire.

Torpedo Level

A level is used to make sure your work is level and plumb. A great installation starts with a straight switch and outlet covers.


A light comes in handy in those places where lighting is limited. Never try to reach into a panel without proper lighting.

Allen Wrench Set (Hex Set)

Allen wrenches are used to tighten Allen-headed screws in your electrical panel.

Razor Blade Knife (Utility Knife)

This knife is needed to cut the insulation off of Romex wiring. You will also need to open boxes when doing an installation and this tool will come in handy.

Phillips Screwdriver

Phillips screwdriver has four blades used to install Phillips-head screws. The tip looks like a plus sign.

Straight-Blade Screwdriver

This screwdriver is used for straight slot screws. You will likely need more than one size for your project. If you have to choose just one, pick a medium blade. It will suit most projects.

Wire Crimpers

This tool strips the wire and also crimps lugs onto the wire.