20 Top Tools You May Need for Electrical Projects

Taking on electrical projects around the house can be extremely rewarding. However, having the right tools for the job is essential to ensure safety and success. Here are 20 of the top tools you may need when tackling electrical projects.


A multimeter is arguably the most important tool for any electrical project. It allows you to measure voltage, current, resistance, and continuity, giving you vital information about the circuit you are working on. When selecting a multimeter, look for one with a manual ranging function, a display with large numbers, and safety features like fused leads. Fluke, Klein Tools, and Flir make excellent multimeters for home electrical work.

Wire Strippers

Wire strippers are used to cleanly and safely remove insulation from electrical wires. For basic home wiring, a simple pair of manual wire strippers with adjustable holes for different gauge wires will suffice. Make sure to get insulated grips so you don’t risk shocks. Brands like Klein Tools and Channellock make great wire strippers for DIYers.

Linesman Pliers

Also known as electrician’s pliers, linesman pliers feature both flat and serrated jaws for gripping, twisting, cutting, and bending wire. The serrated jaws give extra grip and prevent slipping on smooth wires. Knipex and Klein are two of the best linesman pliers manufacturers. Look for pliers with insulated grips for safety.

Needle Nose Pliers

Needle nose pliers have slender, tapered jaws that allow you to reach into tight spaces and make precise bends and loops in wire. They are ideal for intricate electrical work. Look for needle nose pliers with serrated jaws for extra grip. Brands like Craftsman and Irwin make excellent needle nose pliers for electrical projects.

Wire Cutters

Dedicated wire cutters will make clean cuts through thick copper wire with minimal effort. This helps ensure solid electrical connections. Look for compound leverage designs that maximize cutting power. Wiha, Knipex, and Klein make professional-grade wire cutters suitable for heavy-duty electrical work.

Cable Ripper

A cable ripper tool allows you to safely split the outer jacket on Romex and other bundled electrical cables to access the individual wires inside. They eliminate the risky practice of using a utility knife. Klein Tools makes an excellent and affordable cable ripper that electrical pros rely on.

Long Nose Pliers

Long nose pliers have jaws about 6 inches long for reaching into confined spaces. The tapered jaws also allow you to bend, shape, and cut wire in tight areas. Crescent, Channellock, and Irwin all make good long nose pliers for electrical applications.

Linesman’s Pliers

Linesman’s pliers, sometimes called electrician’s pliers, combine the versatility of diagonal pliers with the strength and grip of lineman’s pliers. The gripping jaws are great for twisting and bending wire, while the cutting jaws slice cleanly through thick copper wire. Knipex and Klein are two of the top linesman’s plier brands.

Side Cutting Pliers

Side cutting pliers, also known as diagonal pliers, have angled jaws designed to make flush cuts in wire. The edge of the jaws can also be used to bend and shape wires. Look for induction hardened cutting edges and a comfortable grip. Brands like Knipex and Irwin offer excellent side cutting pliers.

Crimping Tool

A ratcheting crimp tool securely attaches connectors and terminals to wire ends with a compressed metal sleeve. This creates gas-tight connections for solid electrical flow. A good crimping tool has interchangeable dies for different connector sizes. Brands like Klein Tools and Greenlee offer pro-grade crimping tools.

Cable Strippers

Quickly removing the protective jacket on Romex and other electrical cables is easy with quality cable strippers. They have notched jaws that slice through the outer sheath while leaving the inner conductors untouched. Look for a compound action design for maximum leverage and sharp blades. Klein makes some of the best cable strippers out there.


A good hammer is invaluable for driving staples to secure electrical cables, as well as nailing up new work boxes and hanging fixtures. A 16 oz. curved claw hammer provides the best balance of power and control. Estwing and Stanley are two of the top hammer brands on the market.

Fish Tape

A fish tape allows you to easily route new wiring through walls, floors, and ceilings. It is a long, flexible steel tape that “fishes” through cavities. Look for small diameters under 1⁄4” for pulling through tight spaces. Glow rods have LED lights to illuminate the area. Brands like Klein Tools make superior fish tapes.


A headlamp is a must for keeping your hands free and your work area illuminated while completing electrical projects. LED lamps provide bright light without generating much heat. Look for adjustable beams, wide-range dimming, and long battery life. Black Diamond and Coast make excellent headlamps.

Tone and Probe Kit

Tracing existing electrical wires in finished walls is easy with a tone and probe kit. It transmits an electrical signal through a wire that generates a tone you can detect with the amplifier probe. Ideal for finding wires to fish new cables. Fluke and Klein make professional-grade tone and probe kits.

Electrician’s Scissors

Electrician’s scissors have insulated handles to protect against shocks and sharp, beveled tips for easily cutting wire. They are ideal for clipping wire ends and trimming electrical tape wraps. Look for scissors designed specifically for electrical applications. Brands like Greenlee offer high-quality options.

Insulated Screwdrivers

Any screwdrivers you use for electrical work must have insulated shafts to prevent shocks. Look for individual screwdrivers or multi-bit sets with insulated shafts and Assured Ground shafts for maximum safety. Wera, Milwaukee, and Klein all make excellent insulated screwdriver sets.

Wire Brush

A sturdy wire brush is useful for cleaning corrosion from electrical connections to ensure solid contacts. It can also prep wires for termination by stripping oxidation. Opt for a brush with durable stainless steel bristles. Popular brands like Stanley and Greenlee make great wire brushes.


A good cordless drill/driver is invaluable on electrical projects for drilling holes to mount boxes, driving fasteners for cable staples, and sinking screws on receptacles and switches. Look for at least 18V with variable speed triggers. Milwaukee, Makita, and DeWalt make pro-grade cordless drills.

Clamp Meter

Unlike standard multimeters, clamp meters measure current by clamping around a live wire instead of breaking the circuit. This allows you to safely monitor load current. Look for a large clamp jaw opening and both AC and DC modes. Brands like Fluke, Klein Tools, and Extech make quality clamp meters.


A headlamp frees up both hands for electrical work by lighting up your workspace for you. Look for adjustable beams, brightness settings, and long battery life. Water resistance is also nice. Fenix and Petzl offer excellent headlamps that electricians rely on. The Black Diamond Storm is another top choice.

Tape Measure

A basic 25-foot tape measure is essential for electrical work to measure wire runs, locate fixtures, size junction boxes, and much more. Look for a 1″ wide retractable tape with a strong magnetic hook for hands-free use. Stanley, Milwaukee, and Klein all make durable tape measures.

Safety Equipment

Safety should always be the top priority when tackling electrical projects. Here are some key safety items every DIYer should have:

  • Electrical gloves provide insulation when handling live wires. Look for rubber gloves rated for the voltages you will be working with. Popular options from Klein Tools and Mechanix Wear have ASTM ratings up to 1,000V.
  • Safety glasses/goggles protect your eyes from sparks, wire clippings, and other debris. Look for ANSI Z87.1 certification. 3M and Pyramex offer excellent safety eyewear for electrical work.
  • Dust mask protects against harmful particulates when drilling and cutting into surfaces that may contain lead paint or asbestos. Disposable N95 masks from 3M offer ample protection.
  • Ear plugs/muffs prevent hearing damage from loud power tools like hammer drills and angle grinders. Look for an NRR rating of at least 20 dB. Brands like 3M and Howard Leight make great hearing protection.
  • Knee pads provide cushioning and support when kneeling on hard surfaces while performing low electrical work. Look for breathable and adjustable options. NoCry makes excellent and affordable knee pads.
  • Arc flash clothing such as jackets, pants, and hoods are designed to self-extinguish if contacted by an electrical arc. Heavy-duty arc flash suits with arc ratings provide maximum protection when working on high voltage systems.

Frequently Asked Questions About Electrical Project Tools

What are the most essential tools for basic home electrical projects?

The core tools every DIYer should have are a multimeter, wire strippers, linesman pliers, side cutters, a hammer, insulated screwdrivers, a drill/driver, tape measure, and safety equipment including gloves and eyewear. With these basic tools, you can tackle a wide range of electrical fixes and installations around the house.

Is it necessary to use insulated tools for electrical work?

Absolutely. Any time you are working with live electrical systems, it is critical to use tools with insulated grips and shafts to prevent shocks, shorts, and electrocution hazards. Never attempt to use metal tools without insulation on live circuits.

Should I buy individual electrical tools or a pre-packaged kit?

For DIYers just getting started, an electrical tool kit provides all the essentials in one fell swoop. For those with some experience who want to curate their collection, buying individual tools allows you to get exactly what you need. High-quality kits from Klein Tools, Greenlee, and Commercial Electric can provide great value.

What size wire strippers should I get?

Look for wire strippers with adjustable holes and notches for stripping everything from small alarm wire up to thick 6 AWG Romex cable. Klein Tools and Irwin make excellent strippers with this range of adjustability. Auto-adjusting strippers are also convenient.

How do I safely turn off power to a circuit before starting work?

Always turn off the breaker supplying the circuit and verify power is off with a non-contact voltage tester. For extra safety, locking circuit breaker locks physically prevent accidental reactivation of a hot circuit. Only work on verified cold, deenergized circuits.

What type of screwdriver do I need for electrical boxes and fixtures?

Standard #1 and #2 Phillips and slotted screwdrivers will handle most electrical terminal screws. Look for insulated shafts andAssured Ground tips for safety. Ratcheting drivers speed repetitive screw driving. Wera, Milwaukee, and Klein make great electrician’s screwdrivers.

When should I use cable strippers vs. cutting the sheath with a utility knife?

Use dedicated cable strippers whenever possible to avoid damaging conductors. A knife should only be used in a pinch for small cables like 14/2 Romex, and extreme care is required. Cable strippers provide a safer, cleaner cut.

What size hammer is best for electrical work?

A 16 or 20 oz. curved claw hammer provides the optimum balance of control and striking power, making it ideal for driving staples to hang cables and nailing up electrical boxes. Estwing and Vaughan are two of the best hammer brands for electrical work.


Having the proper tools makes all the difference when tackling electrical projects around the house. Investing in essentials like a multimeter, quality pliers, insulated drivers, a drill, and safety gear gives you the equipment needed to work safely and efficiently. Cable strippers, fish tapes, clamp meters, and other specialty tools also make certain tasks much easier. Assembling a comprehensive electrical toolbox prepares you to handle installations, repairs, and upgrades with confidence. Just be sure to use extreme caution and turn off power to circuits before beginning work.