Common Electrical Projects and How Much They Cost

Home electrical projects allow you to upgrade and customize your living space to meet your needs. While some electrical work is best left to licensed professionals, many common electrical projects can be safely DIYed by homeowners with basic skills. Learning about frequently performed electrical projects and their typical costs empowers you to budget and plan upgrades and repairs.

Wiring a New Light Fixture

Installing a new light fixture is one of the most straightforward electrical projects for DIYers. The steps include:

  • Turn off power at the circuit breaker and test wires with a voltage tester to ensure electricity is off.
  • Remove the old light fixture, including dismantling it from the ceiling and disconnecting wires.
  • Feed the wires from the new light through the mounting bracket and connect them to the wires protruding from the ceiling using wire nuts. Connect the ground wire to ground, neutral wires to white, and hot wires to black.
  • Mount the new fixture base to the ceiling and install light bulbs.
  • Turn circuit breaker back on and test that the new light works.

Most basic light fixture replacements cost $10-$30 for the new light and $5-$10 for wire nuts and electrical supplies. Factor in $40-$75 per hour if hiring an electrician.

Installing New Switches and Outlets

Replacing old switches and outlets with fresh ones is an easy upgrade. The process includes:

  • Turn off power at the circuit breaker and verify it’s off.
  • Remove cover plate and unscrew the old switch or outlet.
  • Disconnect and label wires, then disconnect them from the old device.
  • Connect wires to the same terminals on the new device. Ground to green, white to silver, black to gold.
  • Secure the new device in the box, install cover plate, and turn power back on.

Light switches cost $2-$8 and basic outlets around $3-$5. Hiring an electrician averages $40-$100 per hour.

Adding Electrical Outlets

Adding new outlets conveniently places power access where you need it. Steps include:

  • Turn off home’s main breaker then verify power is off at the outlet box location using a voltage tester.
  • Cut a hole in the drywall for the outlet box and drill holes to run wires through framing from the power source to the new box.
  • Pull wires through holes and secure the outlet box.
  • Connect wires to outlet device, matching ground, neutral, and hot.
  • Attach outlet to box, install cover plate, turn main breaker back on, and test.

Outlet boxes cost $2-$5, cover plates around $2, and basic outlets $3-$5. Expect to pay an electrician $100-$200 per outlet added.

Rewiring Switched Outlets

Switched outlets are controlled by a wall switch, allowing devices plugged into the outlet to be conveniently turned off. To convert a regular outlet:

  • Turn off home’s main breaker then verify outlet box is not live.
  • Disconnect outlet wires and separate the hot wire, connecting it to one of the new outlet’s brass terminals.
  • Add a short jumper wire between the outlet’s other brass terminal and neutral silver terminal.
  • Connect all ground wires to green terminal and neutral wires to silver.
  • Install outlet in box and connect unaltered hot source wire to the switch loop.
  • Attach switch controlling the outlet, cover plates, test outlet.

Materials like outlet, box, cover plate and wire cost about $10. Electrician hourly rates of $50-$100 are common for this 1-2 hour project.

Installing a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans improve comfort and utility in a room. Key installation steps include:

  • Turn off power at breaker and verify. Remove existing light fixture.
  • Mount and secure fan-rated outlet box between ceiling joists if needed.
  • Hang fan assembly on mounting bracket and wires through base.
  • Connect wires from fan and house using connectors – green to bare copper, white to white, black to black.
  • Install blades and light covers as needed. Turn power on and check fan operation.

Basic ceiling fans cost $50 and up. 10-15 amp dual switched outlets run $15-$25. DIY materials total $100-$200, professional installation $150-$300.

Adding a New Circuit

When areas require more power than the current wiring provides, you can DIY installing a new circuit and breaker. Steps include:

  • Shut main breaker off and verify power is totally off in the new circuit’s path using a tester.
  • Run cable through walls and ceilings from the circuit breaker panel to the new outlets and devices. Staple neatly along the way.
  • Connect wires to outlets and devices, matching ground to green, white to silver screws, black to gold.
  • Connect other end of cable to new 15-20 amp breaker in the panel, matching ground to ground bus bar, neutral to neutral bar, hot to breaker.
  • Ensure good connections, turn main power back on, turn new breaker on, and test circuit.

DIY cost can be $150-$300 depending on circuit length. Hiring an electrician averages $200-$600 per new 20 amp circuit.

Grounding Old 2-prong Outlets

Replacing ungrounded two-prong outlets with safe, grounded 3-prong outlets is straightforward:

  • Shut off power and verify it’s dead outlets are disconnected.
  • Remove old outlet and release wires. Pigtail a new ground wire and connect it terminals on the new outlet.
  • Connect neutral wires to the outlet’s silver terminals, hot wires to brass terminals.
  • Install outlet in box, cover with plate, and turn power back on to test.
  • Sticker GFCI outlets with “No Equipment Ground” warning.

DIY parts like outlets, wire, and plates total $10-$20 per outlet. Electrician rates average $50-$100 per hour.

Installing a New Light Switch

Steps to add a switch that controls an existing light include:

  • Shut off circuit breaker powering the light and verify it’s dead.
  • Run 14/2 cable from light to planned switch location. Staple neatly.
  • Connect one wire from cable to switch’s common terminal, the other to one traveler terminal.
  • Connect opposite traveler terminal to incoming hot wire on light through a pigtail.
  • Connect all ground wires and neutral wires together securely with wire nuts.
  • Mount switch in box, cover with plate, turn breaker back on, and test switch.

DIY cost is $5 for the switch plus $25-$100 for wiring, depending on distance to light. Professional electrician installation averages $125-$325.

Upgrading Main Service Panel

Upgrading an obsolete fuse box or small circuit breaker panel provides safer and higher capacity electrical service. This complex project requires permits and professional electrician installation costing $1,000-$4,000 on average. Steps include:

  • Electrician will calculate required new service panel amperage based on home size and circuits.
  • Utility company will temporarily disconnect outside power lines during the upgrade.
  • Electrician will mount new, larger panel and re-run wiring from utility lines into the new service panel.
  • All circuits will be rewired into new panel and labeled.
  • Utility power will be reconnected and extensive testing done to verify safety.

Installing a New Ceiling Electrical Box

Adding a ceiling electrical box allows installing a new light fixture or ceiling fan where there wasn’t one before.

  • Shut off power to the circuit and verify it’s dead before working.
  • Choose the center point between joists and trace a box outline. Cut hole with drywall saw.
  • Run 14/2 cable from the new box location to the nearest working outlet or switch.
  • Secure electrical box in joists, pull the cable through into box, connecting wires.
  • Attach blank cover plate. Turn power back on and test that box wiring is live.

DIY costs around $50 per box including materials like wire, box, clamps, and cover. Hiring an electrician ranges $125-$250 per box installed.

Troubleshooting Faulty Outlets

Having dead outlets or ones with lighting, melting, or buzzing can indicate a serious wiring hazard. Troubleshooting steps include:

  • Unplug devices from bad outlets and shut off power to the circuit at breaker.
  • Remove outlet cover and unscrew to inspect device. Check for singed wires or cracks in insulation. Warning signs include hot outlet or burnt smell.
  • Check connections to hot and neutral terminal screws, reconnecting any loose wires securely.
  • Consider faulty outlets, switches, appliances, cords, or wiring connections further upstream on circuit. Inspect visually and with a voltage tester.
  • Reset GFCI and AFCI breakers. Press test and reset buttons on outlets.
  • If outlets remain problematic, have a professional assess and repair issues for $125-$300 per hour typical rates.

Light Switch Stopped Working

When a switch no longer operates to turn a light on and off, there are several potential causes to troubleshoot DIY:

  • Inspect switch for damage and test using a voltage tester to confirm power is present. If not, check and reset breaker.
  • Test light bulbs to see if one burned out. Replace bad bulbs.
  • Remove switch plate and ensure wires are securely attached to terminals without loosening. Tighten connections.
  • Test points in circuit including the switch, connections in light electrical box, and wiring between them looking for faults.
  • If the circuit tests out but the switch fails to control light, replace old mechanical switch with a new unit, around $5 DIY.
  • More complex internal wiring issues require professional electrician troubleshooting costing approx. $125 per hour on average.

Installing Low-Voltage Landscape Lighting

Enhance and illuminate your home’s exterior spaces by installing low-voltage (12V or 24V) outdoor landscape lighting along paths, walls, and foliage.

  • Plan lighting layout and purchase matching transformer, lights, wire, and accessories needed for lighting zones.
  • Mount transformer in an outdoor area near an outlet and run direct burial low-voltage cable to light locations underground.
  • Stake or mount lights aimed as desired, stripping and connecting wires to terminals securely.
  • Activate transformer and test lights, adjusting aiming or accessories to refine the lighting effects.

Low-voltage DIY landscape lighting kit costs around $100-500 depending on size. Professional landscaping electricians typically charge $50-$150 per hour for design and installation.

Repairing Electrical Cord on Appliance

Fraying or cut electrical cords can be dangerous but are repairable DIY. For grounded 3-prong cords:

  • Unplug appliance and inspect cord closely for how and where it’s damaged. Cut away any frayed sections.
  • Strip back outer cord insulation evenly, then strip inner wire insulation on hot, neutral, and ground wires.
  • Splice matching wires by twisting tightly together with pliers, then securing with wire nuts. Ensure tight connection.
  • Tape splices with electrical tape for added protection, sliding heat shrink tubing over this. Apply heat to shrink tubing.
  • Wrap connection in electrical tape and consider a cord protector sleeve before testing appliance.

Parts are cheap, around $3-$10, but pay an appliance repair shop $40-$90 per hour for service assurance on critical appliances.

GFCI Tripping Troubleshooting

GFCI outlets self-monitor for safe electricity flow and trip off power if a fault occurs. Troubleshoot DIY by:

  • Press the “Reset” button on the GFCI outlet firmly until an audible click. Try using the circuit again to see if power remains on now.
  • Unplug all devices from the outlet and reset. If it stays on, plug in devices one at a time to isolate the problem electrical device. Replace faulty cords and appliances that trigger tripping.
  • Inspect outlet for loose, burnt, or damaged wiring and reset connections securely. Test again.
  • Test circuit wiring with a voltage tester to isolate faults in lines that may lead to tripping. Address issues.
  • If the GFCI outlet still trips with nothing plugged in and wiring corrected, replace the faulty GFCI outlet. New ones cost around $20 DIY.

For complex underlying electrical issues causing tripping, hire an electrician starting at $90 per hour.


The most frequently DIYed home electrical projects provide an opportunity to add convenience and customization at an affordable cost if you educate yourself, work safely, and know when to call a pro. Lighting improvements, installing switches and outlets, running new wiring, and landscape lighting are popular home upgrades. Diagnosing and repairing faults like tripping GFCIs also falls within reach of an informed homeowner, as do installing ceiling fans and new electrical boxes to mount fixtures. Major undertakings like service panel upgrades and adding new home circuits are best left to the pros but will be more understandable after learning the basics of residential electrical work. Empower yourself by learning about common electrical projects in advance before tackling upgrades and repairs in your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Common Home Electrical Projects

What are some beginner electrical projects I can do myself?

Some good starter electrical projects include installing a new light fixture, replacing switches and outlets, grounding outdated two-prong outlets, repairing damaged appliance cords, and installing low-voltage outdoor landscape lighting.

Is it hard to add new outlets and light switches?

Adding new outlets and light switches is straightforward with some basic skills. The steps involve safe shutoff procedures, running new wiring through walls, connecting wires securely, and testing. Patience and attention to safety are key.

Can I legally do my own electrical work?

Most common electrical projects like installing lights and outlets can legally be DIYed by a homeowner. However, permits and professional licensing are required for major work like upgrades to the home’s main electrical service panel. Check your local regulations.

What tools do I need for electrical projects?

Essential electrical tools include a voltage tester, screwdrivers, wire strippers, needle-nose pliers, electrical tape, wire nuts, and cordless drill. Safety gear like glasses and gloves are vital. Use a ladder when needed.

Is replacing an old fuse box with a circuit breaker panel a DIY job?

Due to the complexity and risks involved, upgrading from a fuse box is not recommended as a DIY project. Hire a licensed electrician to install a new circuit breaker panel to ensure it meets code and provides sufficient power safely. Expect costs around $1,500-$4,000.

Why does my GFCI outlet keep tripping for no reason?

Frequent GFCI outlet tripping can indicate faulty wiring leading to ground faults. Check for loose connections, pinched wires, or short circuits. Outlets, cords, and appliances on the circuit could also be defective and require repairs or replacement. Call an electrician for help if you cannot resolve the issue.

How much does it cost to install a ceiling fan?

A basic DIY ceiling fan installation costs around $100-$200 including the fan, fittings, wiring, and hardware. Professional installation averages $150-$300 for labor, with ceiling fans ranging from simple $50 units to more complex smart fans costing $500+.

Are old two-prong outlets dangerous?

Outlets with just two-prongs lack a grounding pin making them more hazardous. Replacing ungrounded outlets with modern, GFCI-protected three-prong outlets improves safety. Sticker older GFCI outlets as having “No Equipment Ground”.

Can I change electrical wiring in my house myself?

Simple wiring projects like new switches, outlets, and circuits may be DIYed safely. But alterations and additions to main house wiring and service panels require professional electrician skills to ensure safety and code compliance. Check regulations in your region.


Learning basic electrical skills allows DIY-savvy homeowners to take greater control over improving and maintaining their living space. Focus on straightforward projects first like installing new lighting, outlets, switches, and low-voltage landscape lighting to gain experience before attempting more complex circuitry upgrades. Adopt safe practices and call in licensed electricians when needed to ensure your projects meet code and maximize safety for your family. With the right background knowledge guiding your home electrical project planning, you can budget wisely while adding convenience, functionality, and value to your house.