The 16 Tools You Need for Electrical Projects

Mother and son using voltage meter
Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images

Like any other project around the house, electrical work will require a few tools to accomplish the job. Basic electrical tools are widely available at most home centers and hardware stores as well as electrical wholesale stores. For most household electrical projects, you don't need many specialty tools, and several installation tools, like a hammer, tape measure, level, and screwdrivers, you may already own. As with any tool purchase, you'll get longer life and better performance from higher-quality tools. Better electrical hand tools, such as wire cutters and linesman pliers, are also insulated to help prevent shock hazards. 

  • 01 of 16

    Fish Tape

    Gardner Bender steel fish tape
    amazon.com

    A 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.

  • 02 of 16

    Tape Measure

    Stanley measuring tape
    amazon.com

    A standard tape measure is used for all kinds of field measurements, such as setting heights for switches and outlets, centering lighting fixture boxes, and marking surfaces for cutouts.

  • 03 of 16

    Non-contact Voltage Tester

    Greenlee voltage detector
    amazon.com

    A voltage tester is used for a quick safety check to make sure there's no voltage in an electrical wire or device before you start working on it. Non-contact voltage testers are the simplest and safest type of tester because they can detect electricity just by being near an outlet slot or wire.

  • 04 of 16

    Hammer

    Stanley hammer
    amazon.com

    A hammer is used to secure boxes equipped with nail-on brackets to wall studs and other framing members in a home. You’ll also need it to drive wire staples when installing new electrical cable.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Tongue-and-Groove Pliers

    Channellock pliers
    amazon.com

    Tongue-and-groove pliers are used to remove knockouts from metal electrical boxes, tighten cable clamps, and adjust expansion-type ceiling fan boxes.

  • 06 of 16

    Wire Strippers

    Irwin Vise-Grip wire strippers
    amazon.com

    Wire strippers are used to cut and strip insulation from electrical wire. They have a variety of holes for stripping different standard sizes of wire and include cutting teeth for trimming wire ends.

  • 07 of 16

    Side-Cutting Diagonal Pliers

    iExcell side cutter diagonal pliers
    amazon.com

    Diagonal cutting pliers sometimes called side snips or dikes, are used to cut wire. They are specially designed with a cutting edge that goes down to the tip of the pliers, allowing you to get into tight areas to trim wires. Some types can also detect live wires for safety.

  • 08 of 16

    Linesman Pliers

    Stanley lineman pliers
    amazon.com

    Linesman pliers are electrician 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 for pulling wire.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Torpedo Level

    Stanley torpedo level
    amazon.com

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

  • 10 of 16

    Flashlight

    Dorcy Waterproof LED flashlight
    amazon.com

    Electrical work involves a lot of dark places, from attics and basements to wall and ceiling cavities to the insides of electrical boxes. A flashlight is needed as much for safety as it is for convenience.

  • 11 of 16

    Allen Wrench Set (Hex Set)

    Stanley allen wrench hex set
    amazon.com

    Allen wrenches are used to tighten head-head screws. You need both metric and standard sets.

  • 12 of 16

    Utility Knife

    Stanley utility knife
    amazon.com

    A utility knife, or box cutter, is handy for cutting sheathing from non-metallic (Romex) cable, to cut off electrical tape, and to open boxes.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Phillips Screwdrivers

    Craftsman phillips screwdriver set
    amazon.com

    Electricians keep screwdrivers with them at all times, for removing and installing cover plates, outlets, switches, and many other devices. It's best to have a few different lengths of Phillip screwdrivers, as well as #1, #2, and #3 tip sizes.

  • 14 of 16

    Straight-Blade Screwdrivers

    Stanley screwdriver set
    amazon.com

    As with Phillips screwdrivers, you will likely need more than one size of straight-blade screwdrivers. If you have to choose just one, pick a medium blade. It will suit most projects.

  • 15 of 16

    Voltmeter or Multimeter

    Etekcity Digital voltmeter
    amazon.com

    A voltmeter is used to read voltage levels and verify that circuits are indeed “live.” or off. Multimeters can read voltage levels as well as amperage (current), resistance, and DC voltage and amperage.

  • 16 of 16

    Wire Crimpers

    Titan Tools wire crimpers
    amazon.com

    Wire crimpers are used to crimp lugs or terminals onto wires. May can also be used to strip wire insulation.