Dear Mr. Electrician: What are the best electrician tools?
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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:
- Handy Electrical Tools
- Must-Have Wiring Tools
- Electrical Testers
- Insulated and Safety Tools
- Electrical Labeling
- Wire Pulling Tools
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.
MUST-HAVE WIRING TOOLS
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.
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 to check 240 volts. They do this by connecting the two white leads 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.
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.
Suppose you work service, repair, and maintenance in a manufacturing facility or industrial complex. In that case, you will want some electrician tools 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
Click here to see all of my blog posts about tools.
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.
|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 Emergency Disconnect, Service Disconnect sticker below is required by article 230.85 in the National Electrical Code. Main electrical disconnects must be labeled. Click the link for different-size labels.
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, please 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.