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 requires a few tools to accomplish the job. Basic electrical tools are widely available at most home centers and hardware stores as well as electrical supply 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. 


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  • 01 of 16

    Fish Tape

    Gardner Bender steel fish tape

    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

    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

    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 types of testers because they can detect electricity just by being near an outlet slot or wire.

  • 04 of 16


    Stanley hammer

    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 one to drive wire staples when installing new electrical cable.

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  • 05 of 16

    Tongue-and-Groove Pliers

    Tongue-and-groove pliers (water pump pliers)
    artas / Getty Images

    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

    Vise-Grip wire strippers


    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 the wire ends.

  • 07 of 16

    Side-Cutting Diagonal Pliers

    iExcell side cutter diagonal pliers

    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

    Linesman pliers are electrician do-it-all pliers. They cut wires, 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.

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  • 09 of 16

    Torpedo Level

    Stanley torpedo level

    A small level, such as a torpedo level, fits easily in a tool pouch and 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


    Dorcy Waterproof LED flashlight

    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

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

  • 12 of 16

    Utility Knife

    Stanley utility knife


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

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  • 13 of 16

    Phillips Screwdrivers

    Craftsman phillips screwdriver set

    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 Phillips screwdrivers as well as #1, #2, and #3 tip sizes.

  • 14 of 16

    Straight-Blade Screwdrivers

    Stanley screwdriver set

    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

    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

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