Tools Electricians Need for Electrical Service and Maintenance
After the building has been handed over to its owners and users, the electrical and maintenance work comes into play. these tasks must be formed for the life of the structure. The tools that the electrician needs for this work are very different from those that are used for the initial electrical installation. It is a finished and occupied space. While some of the equipment is easily accessible, some of the things you need to work on are behind the walls and in the ceilings. We asked Milwaukee Tool what tools they recommend to electricians doing this type of job, added our own perspectives, and made this (hopefully) handy list.
To get your work done as efficiently as possible, nothing replaces years of experience in this field. However, there are tools that electricians need to be more productive, whether it’s your first day at work or you’re 40.
We worked with the Milwaukee team to identify several common areas that electricians see need for improvement and to find tools to make things easier. Their extensive experience in developing electrical and MRO solutions together with professionals in the field gives them an excellent perspective on electrical service and maintenance.
Sometimes your electric go-bag will have every tool needed to troubleshoot and resolve your upcoming electric service problem. More often than not, you’ll need to bring a lot of gear with you to cover all of the “what-ifs”. It also means that you are lugging around a lot more electrician tools than you really need.
The other way is the minimalist approach: take a few things to diagnose the problem and then go back to the tools you need.
Either way, you’ll make multiple trips to the van or storage room to grab a variety of tool boxes.
One way to make your life easier is through modular storage systems like the Milwaukee Packout System. While you might not consider these electrician tools, they are especially helpful in serving this craft. You can buy the individual pieces you need to customize each set so that you have exactly what you need. Then arrange them sensibly. You can even get foam trays to take your customization to the next level.
A good place to start is with a roll box to serve as a foundation. Most of these devices stow bulkier gear with a trolley that lets you roll your entire set to where you need it in one trip. Building on that, you can add boxes to organize your diagnostic tools, hand tools, power tools, accessories, and anything else you might need. Some systems also have a dolly option for the base if you don’t need the larger storage capacity of a roll box.
There are several systems to choose from, so take a look at the quality of their constructions and adjust them on-site to meet your expectations.
Lighting for electricians
Once you start electrical maintenance and servicing of a building, you typically move away from the temporary lighting. However, you still need personal and task-related lighting that suits the job at hand. Therefore, our pick list of tools electricians need includes several lighting recommendations.
When we talk about personal lighting, we are talking about tools that electricians use on a daily basis. These include flashlights, headlights and small area lights. These are compact lights that you use very close to the work of your hands.
Although there are many great lights in this category, they often use alkaline batteries. It’s less expensive on the front end, but you can chew them through quickly, especially with lamps that you use every day.
Rechargeable lamps have a lower cost of ownership over the life of the batteries. The problem we run into with them is long loading times. They’re not like power tool batteries that you can charge during lunch, and they often force you to have spare parts on hand to help you get through the day.
Keep your eyes peeled for more modern tools and solutions. Some brands make their own personal lighting using the same lithium-ion cells that are found in their power tool batteries. Instead of grouping these cells in sets of 3 or 5, they only use one to keep the weight down, but can still go through 90% of a full charge cycle in less than an hour.
Since these are tools that electricians need for service and maintenance, you should pay attention to the color temperature of your lights. Make sure you have a neutral color temperature that allows you to see real colors and an accurate picture of the wiring you are working on. We especially like the Milwaukee low-profile headlamp.
With increasing size and lumen output, the work lighting brightens a much larger area. Halogen lights were the traditional workhorse here, but you’ll need to find an outlet and run an extension cord. They also run pretty hot and struggle to illuminate as large an area as newer technology can.
When you get your hands on battery powered work lights, it’s quite common for the battery pack to either be completely enclosed in the light or not work with your power tools.
Newer wireless LED options like the Milwaukee M18 Tower Light solve all of these problems with higher performance for their size, cooler operation, and much more durable designs. Electricians can get these tools from the same company that makes your power tools. This gives you more versatility with the same batteries, and makes them much easier to set up and use because you don’t need a cord.
However, if you have a job that needs light longer than a battery can last, some of these lights are hybrid – they can run on battery power or AC power with an extension cord.
With 1/4 hex shank accessories, impact wrenches are now able to do more jobs than ever before. Almost every pro takes at least one with them wherever they go.
They’re incredibly quick tools for electricians, but they suffer from noise levels well above the OSHA 85 decibel limit for hearing protection. In addition, the vibrations on impact can increase hand fatigue. Although they are compact compared to power drills, sometimes they don’t fit in tight spaces.
To make your impact wrench quieter, consider switching to a hydraulic impact wrench like the Milwaukee M18 FUEL Surge. These use hydraulic drive trains, which are much less noisy and reduce vibrations. Not only does it make your job easier, it also makes your life easier for the rest of the people who have yet to teach or work while you deal with electrical service and maintenance.
Some 18v hydraulic drivers are smaller than others. The M12 FUEL Surge is an example that reduces the size even further. Take a look at our review of this M18 FUEL hydraulic actuator or learn more about the decibel scale. We also have a test report that compares a hydraulic and a standard impact wrench directly.
When it comes to the needs of electricians, hand tools are the kings of multipurpose design advances. Pliers are a good example as many of them only do one job. However, there are many designs that combine multiple operations into one tool, often to walk you through a series of tasks. With a tool like 7-in-1 high-lever pliers, you can cut, strip and crimp with one tool and, in addition to standard pliers jaws, also have everything you need for shearing and rubbing.
Another great place to save space in your tool bag is with screwdrivers. You don’t have to carry a whole set with you when a multibit screwdriver can pack all of them into one tool and often costs less.
As an electrician, at some point you will encounter the need for insulated screwdrivers. The designs out there are excellent, but many lack a way to let you know if the insulation is compromised. There are now insulated screwdrivers that have a visual wear indicator so you can easily see when to take them out of service.
Torpedo levels do a lot of work for electricians, both in the installation and electrical service and maintenance phases of a building. If you look at what’s in your tool bag right now, you can spot some common weak spots: poor vial visibility, worn measuring marks, and weak magnets.
Look for an upgrade that will give you a larger field of view with easy-to-read vials, laser-etched measurements that won’t drain, and rare-earth magnets that hold up much better than standard magnets.
What tips, tricks, and tools do you use to speed up electrical maintenance and servicing? Tell us about it in the comments below!