Beyond changing a light bulb, any electrical job you tackle around the home is going to require at least one tool. But as your tasks become more complex, so does your toolbox. We thought it would be a good idea to list all the items you should have in your electrical toolkit. From the humble screwdriver to vital tools that could save your life, here’s our essential tool guide that’ll see you through 99% of the items on your electrical to-do list.

1. Voltage testers

You’re always going to need to make sure any wiring you’re working on is not live. It’s not unheard-of for consumer unit RCDs to be mislabelled, so you might start working on a live circuit, assuming it’s isolated. 

A simple plug-in tester is one way to make sure the voltage to a socket is off. But more versatile hand-held voltage testers and multimeters let you test individual wires by touching them with the contacts, perfectly safely. A voltage detector for finding wiring buried under plaster and panelling can also be a life-saver.

2. Screwdrivers

A good set of insulated screwdrivers is essential. Make sure you have a selection of sizes and types (flat, Phillips, Torx, hex and Pozidriv) so any loosening and fixing can be done safely. A socket set can be useful, but sometimes you’ll need to get in very narrow gaps where only a standard screwdriver will fit. Some of your screwdrivers should have a long reach, to get into those inevitable nooks and crannies. Always use screwdrivers with insulated handles – it’s an extra layer of safety.

3. Wire strippers

Wire strippers are designed to remove the plastic insulation from the end of a wire without damaging the wire inside. They’re pretty simple to use – just grip the wire and pull towards the end, and the insulation will come off. Strippers come with a range of gauges to make sure you’re taking off just the insulation and leaving the copper wire intact.

4. Pliers

You’ll be using pliers all the time, for simple gripping, holding things in place while you work with other tools, and folding wires back on themselves to get a neat end. Again, you’ll need a set, which includes standard, long-nose and vice grip pliers. Most pliers have other tools built in, such as wire strippers, which can be used if you don’t have your specialised tool. Again, make sure they’re insulated for extra safety.

5. Cable cutters

These look a bit like pliers, but they have a sharp, tough cutting edge rather than a gripping edge. They’re perfect for safely cutting through all grades of wiring and leaving a clean finish.

6. Spanners

A good set of insulated spanners will come in handy for opening boxes and loosening or tightening nuts and bolts. You can opt for a set of open-ended spanners, but a decent adjustable spanner is probably all you need.

7. Knife

It’s always handy to have a knife, which can be used for cutting and stripping wires, accessing painted-over switches and sockets, and all manner of challenges you’ll come across in your electrical projects. Choose a Stanley knife type, which has a tough, changeable blade which can be retracted when not in use to protect the blade – and anyone who’s scrabbling around in the toolbox.

8. Torch

You’ll always be poking around in badly lit fuse box cabinets, under stairs, under floorboards and wherever else the sun doesn’t shine. A small LED torch will give you years of service and help you illuminate what you’re working on. A head lamp is also useful as it keeps both your hands (and  your mouth) free to work.

9. Chisels

If you’re likely to be mounting sockets in skirting boards or light switches in door frames, a set of chisels is vital. You might also need masonry chisels to go into plaster and brickwork, which is likely if you’re replacing surface-mounted pattress boxes with concealed back boxes.

10. Claw hammer

While the hammer is essential for the chisel, you’ll need the claw side whenever you’re working under floorboards. Some of those ancient floor nails simply won’t budge with a pair of pliers, but a claw hammer lets you use leverage to make sure they come out.

11. Allen keys

A set of Allen keys (hex keys) will come in handy for certain boxes and mounts that need dismantling for access. You might not need them often, but you’ll be glad you’ve got them when you do.

12. Hacksaws

A full-size and junior hacksaw are necessary for all sorts of miscellaneous metalwork and woodwork tasks you might find yourself having to do around electrical sockets, switches and wiring. Again, you might not use it very often for regular domestic fixes, but you’ll never regret having them in your toolbox.

13. Cable ties

Keep bunches of wires tidy and organised by wrapping them in cable ties. The next person doing the job might be grateful if you use releasable cable ties, but regular one-way ties are fine too.

14. Crimpers

These are used to grip lugs around wires, particularly in phone sockets and other such applications. Most wire strippers have crimpers built in, but if yours don’t, a dedicated tool is useful. A single-purpose crimper is usually smaller, which means you can get it in tighter gaps. 

15. Spirit level

Make sure your switches, sockets and conduits are perfectly horizontal by packing a spirit level. It’s one of those tools that probably isn’t essential, but it’s just what you need if you want to take pride in your work.

Now you’ve got your toolbox ready, you’re going to need all the supplies for the job, from switches and sockets to wiring and conduits. Check out our extensive collection of quality electrical components, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice.