Every trade has its tools – and while many trades use mostly “general” ones such as saws and drills – Professional electricians have several tools uniquely tailored for the job. That’s because they have to measure what can’t be seen, in units that are hard for the non-Pro to understand, in quantities that can be downright deadly. Sounds fun, right? Well, most electricians certainly find the work rewarding and if you really consider the skill it takes to harness raw power and channel it into productive use, it’s really pretty amazing. So with the help of Professional electricians Danny Carey and Ben Parker, we’ve assembled a list of the Top 10 Tools Every Electrician Needs.
The Late Show With Pro Tool Reviews: Top 10 Tools Every Electrician Needs
The tool that’s perhaps most iconic of the electrical trade is the multimeter which, as the name implies, measures multiple electrical properties over several ranges. Older multimeters feature an analog interface where a physical needle indicates the electrical property being tested. Newer multimeters have a digital interface and increasingly sophisticated feature sets like work lights, Bluetooth connectivity, and even thermal imaging cameras
. Although many don’t have an amp clamp, you’ll notice some are clamp meters
with jaws at the top designed to measure current without contacting or breaking the circuit to do so. There are advantages and disadvantages of both types of meters, but both can do a reliable job.
It’s imperative to know if a line is “live”, that is if it has electricity flowing through it. Failure to verify voltage in a line could bring dangerous consequences. A voltage tester is a handy little safety tool that indicates whether a line or plug is live – and it does so without making physical contact. Some multimeters include this function, but a dedicated NCVT (non-contact voltage tester
) is smaller and more convenient.
In a perfect world, an electrician would open up a home’s service panel and find an accurate, legible circuit directory on the inside of the door. But those times are few and far between. Many homes have that plug for nothing and no way to discern from the service panel its complementary breaker. Or sometimes a remodeler needs to trace a circuit. By plugging the transmitter into the outlet, an electrician can use the detector at the service panel to establish a circuit directory.
Wires need cuttin’ and there’s no getting around it. You’ll need some diagonal cutting pliers, or dikes, to get the job done. Err on the side of longer handles for the increased leverage.
Another version of the plier is the side cutting, or Lineman’s, plier which can grip, twist, pull, bend, and cut. There’s no way we can leave this off the list of the tools every electrician needs. Klein Tool’s Lineman pliers are so synonymous with side cutting pliers that they are often called Kleins. That’s saying something for a company that’s been around for 160 years. Some versions
also boast some wire stripping and screw shearing capabilities.
For those small spaces that fingers can’t reach or for bending wire around a screw, long nose pliers are the tool for the job. Many also cut and some can even ream conduit.
Although it looks like this is a really bad idea – stripping the ground while the hot is touching – these are brand new wires that aren’t attached to anything on either side.
In order to make the connection, the protective insulation must be stripped off to expose bare wire. There are a few tools that electricians use to do this – a knife or stripping function on some Lineman’s pliers, for example – but the dedicated tool is the wire stripper. It’s quick and easy. Of course, we know you used the NCVT to make sure that line is dead!
No, it’s not what you use to make sure the fish are long enough and it’s not an old VHS of the one that got away. It’s a non-conductive tool used to push and pull wire through a conduit using a leader. Electricians also use Fish Sticks or Glow Sticks, which are flexible, segmented rods that hook together for a similar purpose. Fish Tape is on a reel that can be deployed and retracted as needed.
Most electricians carry some sort of blade for general purposes and for stripping wire in a pinch, but they can also a choose pocket knives specifically tailored to the trade. Some are insulated and some are not. It’s not necessary since you know the line you’re cutting into isn’t live, right? Right.
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The screwdriver and nut driver may not seem like a trade-specific tool, and in many ways, it isn’t. But that hasn’t stopped manufacturers of electrical tools from innovating in ways that tailor it to the trade. From multi-bit screwdrivers and ratcheting stubbies to wrench assist nut drivers, there’s a driver for every electrical job.
11) Toolbag or Toolbox (Okay, I couldn’t keep it to 10)
What good are tools if they can’t be transported and organized? About as useful as…well, as writers’ block, when you could write something witty. In any event, the tool carrier might also seem like a general tool, but again tool makers have made them suited for electricians with waterproof, non-conductive bottoms, hardshell cases for multimeter storage and protection, and tons of storage for all the tools mentioned above and much more.
Gotta Have ‘Em
This is a long list of tools every electrician needs but it surely isn’t exhaustive. If you’re a Pro and you have electrical tool suggestions for aspiring tradesmen, add them in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!