What are the Best Electrician Tools and Gear for 2021?
Ready to start your career with the best equipment? Having the right tool for the job at hand will save you time. Buying the right tool first time will save you money. Here’s a list of tools and gear you’re going to need day to day, with full reviews of the best buys available.
A good tool belt is an essential item for any electrician’s arsenal of tools. Electrician tool belts are specifically tailored to your needs in the field and contain pockets for all the tools you need on the job, such as wire-strippers, needle-nose pliers and screwdrivers. Because it fits around your waist, carrying a tool belt allows you to have many of the tools you need on a given job right at hand, even when working in tight spaces where a toolbox or bag might not fit. When choosing a tool belt, look for the proper fit on your body and enough slots to fit your tools. See the guide to the Best Electrician Tool Belt.
Although your most vital and frequently used tools will probably be in your tool belt, a tool bag is also an essential accessory for an electrician. As with the tool belt, a tool bag saves you time by allowing you to have your gear close by while you work. In addition, a tool bag is a great way to keep your tools organized and, when used properly, ensure your tools don’t get lost when moving from job to job. Look for a durable bag with pockets of various sizes for different tools, including power tools, large wrenches, pliers and wire strippers. See the guide to the Best Electrician Tool Bag.
Although they may not look much different from any other type of scissors, electrician scissors are capable of doing more than cutting wire. This multifunctional tool is also used to strip insulation safely, cut copper sheets and crimp terminals. As a professional electrician, you will often use scissors, and it is advisable to invest in a quality pair. Proper care of this tool includes regularly wiping and sheathing them, along with occasional oiling of the hinge mechanism. See the guide to the Best Electrician Scissors.
Electricians always need to consider safety, and investing in a solid pair of work boots is essential to keeping you safe on the job. Work boots protect your toes from injuries due to impact, compression and puncture. For electricians, investing in Electrical Hazard (EH) footwear will also safeguard you from electrical burns and shocks. Composite plates replace the traditional steel toes in EH footwear, which also has shock-resistant soles and heels. When investing in boots, consider the climates in which you expect to work. For instance, you will likely want insulated boots for winter and waterproof boots for wet weather. See the guide to the Best Electrical Work Boots.
Although your hard hat might not be the most loved part of your equipment, it will significantly reduce the risk of a worksite-acquired traumatic brain injury or death. The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates hard hats for anyone who works in areas where there is a risk of injury from falling or flying objects, electrical shock or burns. Along with American National Standards Institute (ANSI), OSHA regulates the minimum standards for hard hats worn on the job. Be sure you are familiar with the requirements for hard hats before purchasing one. See the guide to the Best Hard Hats.
A multimeter, also known as a volt/ohm meter (VOM), is vital to any electrician’s tool kit. A standard multimeter will measure voltage, current and resistance, although newer multimeters can perform many more tests. When choosing a multimeter, you will want to consider its range and measurement abilities. Avoid buying a cheaper unit with less range than you will need when on the job. Another critical feature for a professional electrician is the ability to measure both AC and DC, and a backlit reading pane for working in small dark spaces. You should expect to spend between $50-$100 for a quality multimeter. See the guide to the Best Multimeter.
Although you can measure voltage with a multimeter, a voltage tester is another handy tool to keep close by on the job. Voltage testers work by inserting metal probes into an outlet to test for voltage. Probes are typically wrapped in plastic or rubber for safety and are often referred to as non-contact voltage testers. Using a voltage tester is a quick and easy way to verify voltage in an outlet and will save you time when you don’t need the more advanced features of the multimeter. See the guide to the Best Voltage Tester.
Wire strippers are a well-known tool used by both professionals and DIYers to strip the insulation from wires. Professional electricians will want to look for a higher quality version, known as a combination tool, which can also be used to slice thicker cables, crimp terminals and cut screws. Wire stripping needs to be done cleanly because damage to the wire is a safety hazard that can create hotspots or arcing. You should look for one with circular holes for different gauges of wire, that can create a clean cut without the need for twisting or torquing the wire. See the guide to the Best Wire Strippers.
Circuit Breaker Finder
Circuit breaker finders are used to map an electrical current and identify which circuit breaker is connected to an outlet or light fixture. These units are used primarily outside of industrial settings, where metal-encased circuits make them ineffective. When purchasing a circuit breaker finder, you will want to avoid those that adjust automatically. Look for a manual circuit breaker finder, which will allow you to fine-tune the sensor to improve accuracy. This ability to adjust is especially critical in dense residential areas where signals can easily become crossed. You will also want to ensure the unit you buy is UL certified and GCFI compatible. See the guide to the Best Circuit Breaker Finder.
Pliers are a relatively common tool in many trades, and there is a multitude of pliers with various purposes including cutting, gripping and multifunctional. For electricians, side-cutting pliers, needle-nose pliers and lineman’s pliers will be essential parts of your toolkit and are an excellent place to start when buying your tools. Lineman’s pliers are multifunctional and should be able to cut, grip and crimp wire. Electricians will want to choose pliers with insulated handles for safety. It may take some time to get a feel for your favorite features, so start with the essentials and add to your toolkit as needed. See the guide to the Best Pliers for Electricians.
No electrician can be without fish tape. Fish tape helps you route and guide wires through walls and conduits that can’t be accessed in any other way. These rigid and flexible tapes serve as guidewires for electrical wiring and come in a variety of materials such as steel, stainless steel and fiberglass. When buying fish tape, you will want to consider length and tensile strength, as well as what type of wire you plan to work with the most. If you are beginning your career and are unsure of what to buy, steel is an excellent choice for fish tape as it is durable and low-cost. See the guide to the Best Fish Tape.
An electrician’s hammer is more than just a hammer; it has several features that are specific to an electrician’s work. Conductivity is always a factor for electrical work, so the electrician hammer has a fiberglass handle coated with rubber to protect from accidental electric shock. In addition, the nose of the striker is longer, as are the hammer’s claws for reaching into tight locations. Look for an ergonomic design that is well-balanced and has sufficient weight for striking. See the guide to the Best Hammers for Electricians.
A good utility knife is a must for your electrician’s toolkit. Electricians use it often on the job to cut and strip wires and cables. Knives are also handy for cutting electrical tape and opening boxes of equipment and supplies. The blade of an electrician’s knife is specifically designed to cut through the wire’s insulation without harming the core wire. When buying, it is essential to ensure that the blade you purchase is specific to electrical work and not a general utility knife. See the guide to the Best Utility Knife for Electricians.
An impact driver is designed to drive screws, tighten nuts and bore large holes quickly. These compact tools are easier to carry and use in small spaces, making them a good fit for electricians. In spite of its smaller size, an impact drill produces more torque and is more powerful than a drill, allowing it to complete its job rapidly and saving you time. When buying an impact driver, you will want to consider volts versus weight and ease of use. A higher voltage impact driver will be heavier but provide more power. See the guide to the Best Impact Driver.
There are many types of electrician gloves, including rubber insulated, leather protective and lineman’s gloves. Rubber insulated gloves will protect you from electrical shocks, while leather gloves will protect you from cuts and burns. Typically, the leather gloves are worn over the rubber insulated gloves for an extra layer of protection. What you choose will depend on the type of work you will be doing and the OSHA regulations for the industry. In general, you should look for gloves that are rated for the voltage you will be working with. Most electricians have at least two pairs of gloves in their toolbox. See our reviews of the Best Work Gloves for Electricians.
Being an electrician means working in challenging spaces. On any given day, you might be in a musty basement, sliding into a crawlspace or working in an environment where you will likely get dirty. You may also be exposed to extreme weather conditions and need pants to keep you warm or cool during your work shift. Considering these factors, you will want to choose pants that are durable, stain-resistant and comfortable. In addition, many electricians look for pants with multiple pockets for storing tools and equipment. See the guide to the Best Work Pants for an Electrician.
Denim is an excellent choice for those whose work requires durability and comfort. However, you won’t want to wear whatever jeans you have lying around. As a professional electrician, you will probably want to search for jeans that are specifically made for the rugged work you will be doing. Look for quality pants from a company with a strong reputation in the field. In addition, you should consider fit, comfort and fabric. Cotton jeans are among the most durable work pants you can buy, although most work jeans are blended with polyester and nylon at varying percentages for fit and comfort. See the guide to the Best Work Jeans for Electricians.