As an electrician in Cos Cob, CT, I depend on my electrical tools for my livelihood. Having good quality tools and having the right one for the task at hand is of the most important parts of what I do. I carry a large number of tools and materials with me, but there are a few that every homeowner should have in their toolbox.
One of my favorite tools is a non-contact voltage detector. Basically, it can detect live current through the insulation on a wire. The one I use is made by Klein Tools, which has been making linesman tools for about 150 years. I use this electrical tool everyday. Many manufacturers make similar products and they usually cost between $10 and $20. Let’s say that you turn the switch on a lamp and it does not work. The problem could be the bulb, the switch, or the outlet. With this tester, I put it on the cord and determine if the cord going to the fixture is live. If so, I unscrew the bulb and put my tester in the socket to determine if the bulb has power. If it does, I go replace the bulb. If there is no power going to the socket, I replace the switch.
Another tool I use all the time is a three-prong plug in tester. The basic version costs about $5 at hardware stores. The better version has a built-in GFI tester and costs around $8. I have much more expensive testers that can tell me more information with greater accuracy, but these cheap testers have very limited functions, but do them extremely well. These plug-in testers can tell me if the outlet is live and if it is wired correctly. When I jiggle the tester around a little, I can tell if the jaws are making good contact on the blades of the tester, and if the outlet needs to be replaced. The GFI tester tells me if the GFI or GFCI trips when it is supposed to, or if it should be replaced.
The next tool I use frequently is a Klein Tools 10 in 1 screwdriver. Many combination screwdrivers are inferior quality and do not last long. This Klein screwdriver is my default screwdriver on most tasks. The quality is great and stands up to the abuse that I put it through. This one screwdriver allows me to carry fewer tools in my tool pouch, save weight, and complete jobs faster because I spend less time looking for a tool. This one screwdriver cost between $15 and $20 but it is absolutely worth it. As long as you do not use it as a chisel or pry bar, it will last a long time.
I recommend these tools to every homeowner because having these tools and knowing how to use them can save them money in the long run. In some cases, it can prevent you having to call an electrician.