Electrician Tools

Electrician Tools for Professionals

Dear Mr. Electrician:  What are the best electrician tools?

NOTE: links below go to applicable products on Amazon.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Answer:  The best electrician tools are not always what most people think of.  Side-cutting lineman pliers, insulated screwdrivers, and various voltage testers are standard tools for the average electrician.  As you become more proficient in the trade and learn from others, you pick up some unique electrician tools to make the job easier and better.

In addition to the standard electrician tools, many other tools can make electrical work easier though they are not always used daily.

Table of Contents:

Below are tools in my collection that I have found valuable and time-saving as well as helping to contribute to a professional-looking job.

HANDY ELECTRICIAN TOOLS

I bought a Thread Restoration File years ago while working on a job cutting lots of threaded rods (All Thread).  Using the file, I can clean up the cut ends so they threaded quickly into nuts and rod couplings.  I keep it in my electrician tool bag as it comes in handy fixing the threads on bolts, especially after cutting.

Having seen the Fein Multi-Tool on TV many times, I thought I should try this tool at one of my jobs.  I initially purchased a cheap electric imitation Multi-Tool.  Surprisingly, it worked very well, so I eventually bought a better model and loved them both.

The Protractor Level was initially purchased to help me with bending electrical conduit.  It was helpful for that; however, there were other ways it was used on the job site, such as: Determining the angle of a pitched ceiling or a roof.

I got my Burndy Wire Mike as a gift from a sales rep that I did some work for.  It measures all different wire types and sizes.  I have used it a few times and would have used it more if it was non-conductive.

Protractor Level with Magnetic Base for determining angles
Burndy Wire Mike for identifying wire sizes
Thread Restoration Files for repairing damaged threads on screws, bolts, and pipe. Metric bolt; .80, 1.00, 1.25, 1.50, 1.75, 2.00, 2.50, 3.00 mm. Regular bolt; 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24 Threads Per Inch. Extra-fine/extra-coarse bolt; 9, 10, 12, 16, 20, 27, 28, 32 TPI. Regular pipe; 8, 10, 11 1/2, 14, 16, 18, 24, 27 TPI.
Oscillating Multi-Tool for cutting things with ease and control. Can also be used for sanding, scraping, and grout removal.

MUST-HAVE WIRING TOOLS


An electrician uses the Lineman Pliers for cutting, grabbing, twisting, and hammering. This 9.5" pair of pliers is also good for crimping and wire pulling.
When I started working in the electrical trade in the 1960s, my circuit tracer was an ammeter with a pigtail light socket, a flasher button, and a rough service light bulb. The new circuit tracers are much easier and safer.
This six-in-one tapping tool is very handy for cleaning out threads that have gunk in them or were not tapped properly at the factory. It is also good for re-tapping holes to the next size.
BX cable cutters are very handy for cutting and trimming Type AC cable (BX) and also Type MC cable (Metal Clad).

I have used my BX cutting pliers for cutting many things. In addition to BX and MC armored cables, they work great for cutting and trimming flexible metal conduit, and sealtight conduit.  I have also used them for cutting metal ducts and other sheet metal.

ELECTRICAL TESTERS

The first electrical testing tool that I used when I started doing electrical work in the 1960s was a rubber pigtail light bulb socket.  I still use them today.  I know I have a LINE and NEUTRAL if the bulb is bright.  If the bulb is dim, I know it is connected to a LINE and LOAD.

Some electricians connect two pigtail sockets in series for checking 240 volts.  They do this by connecting the two white leads together and using the black leads for testing.  I have seen a few electricians add insulated alligator clips with longer wires to the pigtails.

It is best to use incandescent rough service light bulbs for electrical testing.  They are more durable than standard light bulbs.  Halogen bulbs will work also, but they get very hot and can be hazardous if broken.  Don’t use compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs for this tester.  The electronic components inside could cause false readings.

A Rubber Pigtail Light Bulb Socket available on Amazon that I use as a tool
A Rubber Pigtail Light Bulb Socket available on Amazon that I use as a tool

When choosing an electrical tester or multimeter to be part of your electrician tools, be sure to get one that is at least labeled for Cat IV 600 volts or Cat III 300 volts.  This is indicated on the front of the tester.

Cat II is not suitable for testing electrical circuits unless you are 30 feet (10 meters) from the main electrical panel and 60 feet (20 meters) from the electric meter.  Don’t even think about buying a Cat I Multimeter, even though the price is quite appealing.  Click here for a better understanding of the electrical tester ratings.

I bought a different brand of circuit analyzer many years ago. It worked, but it had some bugs and is no longer manufactured. The above Ideal Analyzer is proven and has many good reviews.
Cat III, 300 volts.
Now that tamper resistant receptacles are prevalent, electricians can no longer use a non-contact voltage tester to check outlets. A plug-in tester is great to check polarity and to test GFCI's.
For professional electricians looking to buy a Multimeter, make sure that the labeling on the front of the meter says Cat IV 600 volts or Cat III 300 volts. Higher voltage rated meters are available.
I have used a few other non-contact voltage testers. I like the Fluke model the best. Less false readings. This one is Cat IV

If you do service, repair, and maintenance work in a manufacturing facility or other industrial complex, you will want to have some electrician tools that are good for working on energized equipment.  In situations like this, you need to follow OSHA rules.

Don’t forget your arc flash wardrobe.

INSULATED AND ELECTRICAL SAFETY TOOLS

Insulated torque screwdriver set. All screws must be torqued to factory specifications.
Insulated torque wrench. All nuts and bolts must be torqued. Always torque bolts, nuts, and screws before energizing.
Insulated socket set.
Insulated electrical gloves.

This glove holder appears to be much stronger than the ones that I used. Mine broke over time.
Any construction site is dusty and dirty. Protect your lungs with a respirator or at least use a dust mask.
Here is a unique style of hard hat and it comes in colors.

Click here to see all of my blog posts about tools.

ELECTRICAL LABELING

Electricians must label many things such as wires, circuit breakers, disconnects, motor controls, and electrical panels.  I bought a Brother P Touch label maker many years ago to assist with that.  It is terrific for labeling all sorts of things using different font sizes and multiple lines on the label.  I have used it often.

The P Touch was beneficial when some clients asked me to label their existing electrical panel.  Having printed labels is much neater and more professional looking.  The Brother TZ tapes are weather and UV resistant and durable.

The one downside to the P Touch is its wide margins at the ends of each label, thereby wasting tape and requiring you to trim the ends with scissors.  I overcome this by entering several titles in succession, with some spaces in-between, on one long label tape and then printing them out as one.  I then cut it into individual labels with scissors.

Wire markers are used to label individual wires inside of electrical panels, motor and industrial controls, junction boxes, and other places.
The EDGE PT-E300 model comes with a hard carry case and rechargeable Li-ion battery. Print laminated labels up to 18mm (and heat shrink tube) on demand with 5 quick application keys, built-in industrial templates and symbols, barcodes, and advanced serialization.
From a user: "Love the label maker. I can make labels in a variety of sizes based on font, text size and the ability to make 2-line labels."
Fine point Sharpies are good for all sorts of labeling where permanent ink is needed. I don't recommend them for outdoor use. In that case use a paint pen.

WIRE PULLING TOOLS

 

Before I purchased my first cable puller, I used a Come Along. It worked well. I also found it very helpful in pulling out old wires.

The service disconnect and emergency disconnect sticker below are required by article 230.85 in the National Electrical Code.  Main electrical disconnects must be labeled.  Click the link for different-size labels.

I designed some three-way and four-way switch wiring diagram STICKERS that are useful tools for electrical construction.

Emergency disconnect, service disconnect sticker label as required by the National Electrical Code
Emergency disconnect, service disconnect sticker label as required by the National Electrical Code

You can read about 3-way switch troubleshooting and installations in my blog post here.

Read my opinion about specific electrician tools; visit my Tool Reviews by clicking here.

For those who enjoy woodworking, read my article about Setting Up A Woodshop.

Klein Tools makes many tools for electrical professionals.

Visit my Link Tree page for more free electrical information and links to my social media sites.