Angie's LIST Guide to
Hiring an Electrician

Since the days of Thomas Edison, the practical applications of electricity have become exponentially more complex. Becoming an electrician requires extensive training and continuing education to keep up with technology that changes constantly. Read this Homeowner's Guide to Hiring an Electrician to learn more before you hire.
 

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Ryan Electric owner Pat Ryan says he always makes sure clients inspect his work and are satisfied before he leaves a job. (Photo courtesy of Brody Ryan)
Ryan Electric owner Pat Ryan says he always makes sure clients inspect his work and are satisfied before he leaves a job. (Photo courtesy of Brody Ryan)
 
 

The first electricians

Although the study of electrical phenomena goes back to ancient times, it was not until Thomas Edison’s era that electrical currents could be sufficiently controlled to be used in homes.

Edison wasn't the first inventor to build a light bulb, but he developed the first electric-powered bulb that would actually stay lit and not burn itself out after a few minutes of use. He patented his invention in 1880 and soon afterward founded Edison General Electric.

Many other electric companies quickly sprang up across the U.S. and in Europe as the race was on to generate electricity and disseminate it to businesses and homes. Natural gas light fixtures and kerosene lamps were phased out as the electric networks grew.

This rapid growth also created a demand for a new profession — the electrician. Even today, the job of electrician can be dangerous and even deadly. In the early years there were not yet many safety features, so electrocution and fires were not uncommon. 

Today's electricians

Modern-day electricians need continuing training and education. They fall into different classifications:

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An electrician works on this home's circuit breaker panel.

Residential electricians install, maintain and upgrade electrical equipment in apartments and houses. They may also install outdoor landscape lighting.

Commercial electricians work on construction sites, in commercial buildings and on mechanical electrical systems. Most commercial electricians perform some installation work, which may involve water heaters, commercial security systems and electronic key systems.

Journeymen electricians work with mechanical connections, lighting installation, power supplies, security systems and communications in both residences and commercial buildings. A journeyman electrician may also work on overhead lines.

Master electricians are highly skilled electricians who generally work in a supervisory role or own contracting businesses. Many states require seven years of experience as an electrician or a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering for certification as a master electrician.

Hiring electricians

Most homeowners call electricians in an emergency or if they're building or remodeling. It's important to research a contractor and find a skilled electrician before you need one. By building a rapport with an electrician, you can be sure that they will be there to help when you need their services.

As always, homeowners should get multiple bids to ensure they received the best price for the service. To vet the companies, homeowners should ask about the following items:

Up-to-date education: A reputable company will require staff to attend regular training courses and stay current on the National Electrical Code, which is amended every three years.

Pulling permits: A permit is usually required in most counties and from the power company any time you're replacing a home's main electrical equipment or doing a significant amount of rewiring. The cost of the permit is often included in your electrician's bill, but be sure to ask. With the permit comes an inspection to ensure the work meets code.

Legitimate licensing: If your state requires electricians to be licensed, check that the license is current. Poor wire connections, overloaded circuits, improper grounding and broken safety elements on an electrical panel are just a few of the problems that can arise from bad workmanship. To check an electrician's licensing, refer to the Angie’s List License Check tool.

Specialization: Since companies specialize in different areas and scopes of work, it's important for homeowners to hire the right company. If a homeowner only wants to replace outlets and switches, then he or she probably shouldn't waste time calling commercial electricians that wire large buildings.

Projects for an electrician

Electricians can do everything from wiring a new house or rewiring an old house to installing new outlets with USB plugs. As modern living provides more things to plug in, it's important for homes to have up-to-date wiring with enough service to power the devices.

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Reputable electricians can complete an array of tasks in a home. (Photo by Jonathan Scott)

Many homeowners hire electricians to replace their old knob-and-tube wiring or 1960s-era aluminum wiring, which many electricians agree was poorly designed. Highly rated electricians tell Angie's List that replacing the panel ranges from $1,200 to $2,000 on average. Rewiring an entire house can run from $8,000 to $15,000 for a 1,500- to 3,000-square-foot home, depending on your home's quirks.

Whether changing the old wiring or simply trying to make life simpler, homeowners might want to hire an electrician to install an exterior outlet. This allows a homeowner to plug in lawn maintenance equipment and other devices without stretching an extention cord from inside their home. This project usually ranges from $250 to $400.

Smart home controls and automation also fall into some electricians’ areas of expertise. Since smart home technology is relatively new, it's imperative to find a highly rated electrician who has the necessary knowledge and experience. It takes a service provider with special know-how to configure the devices properly, so they maintain network security. But leaders in the electrical field tell Angie's List that smart home technology is the next big wave.

Customer reviews

In cities and towns across the U.S. and Canada, members of Angie's List have posted positive and negative reviews about specific electricians they've hired. Members rate service providers on an A-to-F scale, so you can search the list for electricians in your city who have received the most positive reviews. Join Angie's List to read electrician reviews now.

Comments

I have a mobil home that I rent and a previous renter wired everything to 220 and now the renters in there do not have electic on the west side of the trailer My son tried to fix it but they are still complaining so I need someone to fix this for me I don't care if the wires need to be ran on the inside of the trailer along the ceiling to make this work

had a light blow out in the dinning room and when putting in the light it wouldn't work at that site plus another light sock wouldn't work when a new light was install as will as the outside light to the back door

Hello Karen...My name is Gary. I am an electrician by trade, and have been for over seventeen years. My career indulgences as an electrician have been primarily focused on the education and safety of both myself and consumers like yourself who are by matter of fact completely uneducated and un aware of the potential dangers of electricity. One thing I know for sure is that no matter how urgent the problem is with yours or anyone elses electrical system; it means nothing in comparison to the preservation of safety from a potentially catastrophic, life altering or ending event that can quite possibly occur if your electrical is not properly inspected, and repaired by a professional. No matter what the scenario is, lach of financial means, time constraints, business cost's etc.....GET IT DONE CORRECTLY. There is nothing more sureal than piece of mind. Especially when protecting your assets, and well being. GOOD LUCK!!

I need my electrical box replace and brought up to code?!!

Hey my name us crystal i just bought a house and the frist night in it i use the microwave and it was a crazy sound coming from the breaker box to i had someone to come out and fix it now wen i use my washer machine it cut off all my light so i turn it on about two times and my stove wen out and will not come back on and now my washer michine is tripped in my braker box if and one cn help plz email me or write back asap

I have 2 homes that need to be looked over from previous owners electricians..
I have a stove that is not working not sure why. also have plenty general work as well. Would like to hire a reasonable electrician to do the work that does not mind working on rentals with tenets.

I need a ceiling fan installed

Installone ceiling Fan bed Room

If I have to upgrade/replace my service panel (currently 100 AMPS) and have all electrical work completed to install a 3 or 4 wire hot tub what is a fair price to pay for this service in total? How about if the main service panel does not need to be upgraded/replaced?

I have an outlet in the kitchen when has a tan box plugged into it which is very hot. I'm afraid of a fire. Please have an electrician contact me ASAP.

change the dryer plug from 4 prongs to 3 in the Pocono Mt.

I have a property that need an electrician to come in to take a look. I want to know is there a free estimate?

I NEED AN ELECTRICIAN TO GIVE ME ESTIMATES ON PLACING 8 SMOKE DETECTORS AND ASSISTANCE REVIEWING A PERMIT.

Conditions
This morning I turned on my Trane HVAC unit for heat. I have a unit for the up stairs(smaller one) and one for the down stairs(larger one). 1 minute after I turn on my HVAC I turned on my coffee pot to brew some coffee. Immediately after that I went into the bathroom for a shower and ran the hot water before I got in. These were the only appliances on. About two minutes later my lights in my master bedroom shut off. I checked my breaker and the bedroom break was tripped, so I reset it.
My conclusion; there was an overload with the main Hvac, coffee maker, hot water heater running at the same time that tripped my bedroom breaker.
My Question; could this be a potential Problem with electrical issue such breaker or other?

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