Frequently asked questions about electricians
An electrician repairs, designs, installs, and maintains electrical systems. There are different types of electricians to choose from, like those who specialize in residential electrical or those who work outdoors. Residential electricians work inside the home to solve wiring problems or do installs. Electricians who work outdoors focus more on the construction of buildings and the systems needed for those projects. Quality electricians tend to be critical thinkers.
Electrical contractors are responsible for planning electrical systems in new buildings, including outlets, lighting fixtures, and ventilation. They install wiring, lighting, and electrical systems according to the municipal code. This also includes installing hangers and brackets to support electrical systems. They read and interpret blueprints and circuit diagrams. They perform maintenance and inspections of these systems. Electricians also repair or upgrade faulty systems, including removing the faults.
Electricians need to go through a trades program specializing in the field. It takes over 2,000 hours, or four years, of hands-on experience in most states before an electrician is licensed and able to work independently. This number can increase for journeymen electricians or if the electrician wants to work on commercial projects. Some states require these tradesmen to pass an exam or receive certification. Beyond acquiring a license, electricians also need to have insurance. This protects the electrician’s equipment, tools and vehicles, and also insures them if something goes wrong.
When you think, “I don’t know any electricians near me,” don’t worry — Porch has you covered. All you need to provide is your ZIP code, contact details, and a description of the project involved, and Porch will match you with a qualified professional. They vet the contractors for you, so you can spend your time where it’s needed most.When you search for an electrician, it’s important to know what the job costs on average before contacting someone. From there, a simple Google search will give you the necessary information, but be sure to read reviews on the contractor before hiring anyone. You can sort reviews by the most recent first and see what people have been saying. A great contractor will have a high number of reviews, and maintain an average of 4.5 stars. Always ask the electrician about their licenses, how they bill, their estimated turnaround time, and whether they specialize in a specific type of job.Before you bring on a profession, check your appliances on other outlets to rule out faulty machines, and double-check that the breakers are on. The most common reasons to hire electricians are flickering lighting or faulty light switches (or if either of the two buzzes when activated). The circuit breaker could have an arc fault or trip whenever a specific appliance runs. Some circuit breakers are outdated, or the wires weren’t designed for the amount of power running through them. Hiring an electrical contractor is a great idea if you have an abnormally high electric bill or want more outlets in the home. A contractor will help you plan the best places for new outlets in the most efficient way possible.
An electrician generally costs between $60 to $100 per hour. The cost of an electrician will depend greatly upon the job, where you live, and what type of professional you hire. Higher costs of living and greater licensing fees also drive the price up. All that said, electrical work can be dangerous. A professional knows how to do the job safely, and they’re up to date on rules and regulations. There are several instances where an electrician may be needed. Common jobs are creating new outlets or light switches, installing phone lines and basic light fixtures, upgrading breakers and electrical circuits, fixing the wiring, installing a home generator, or even automating the home.
On average, a new light switch costs $125, and basic light fixtures cost between $80 to $200. Outlet installations can range from $200 to $750, while breakers and electrical panel installations range from $100 to $1,500. Adding a new phone line costs roughly $700, and recessed lighting costs roughly $800. Upgrading your electrical circuit can cost between $1,300 to $3,000, and installing new wiring can be anywhere from $1,200 to $18,000. Automating your home could cost between $5,000 to $9,000 while installing a generator costs around $2,000 to $10,000.
Some of these prices vary so wildly because no two homes are alike. An outlet that requires running wires through various rooms will cost more than a house where the wiring is simple and accessible. Old homes are harder to work with, and their electrical systems can be outdated. When you get a quote from a professional, be sure to ask him the reasons for the pricing. Materials cost more depending on where you live, which affects prices.
A switched outlet is a power outlet turned on or off via a switch. A variation of this is a half-hot outlet, or a duplex outlet, where the top plug is always ready to provide electricity, whereas the bottom plug doesn’t provide electricity unless you flip a switch. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet can’t accomplish half-hot — it must be fully active or only run via a switch.
Before you do anything, turn the power off. If you’re modifying an existing outlet that’s more than a few years old, you might want to replace the outlet. Your outlet needs to match the amperage of your breaker. If your breaker puts out 20 amps, your outlet needs to be capable of handling exactly that. To prep the switch outlet, you’ll need to take the faceplate off and break the tab connecting the two brass screw-plates. Don’t break the one connecting the two silver screws.
In a nutshell, your hot and neutral wires (black and white, respectively) will both go to the switch. You’ll run a 14-3 wire from the box to the switch. You’ll need to pigtail the hotline and cap them with a marrette. Connect the pigtail and the remaining black wire to the outlet. Connect the neutral wire to the silver terminal on the other side. Each line has a copper line, which needs to be grounded to the grounding screw. Electrical work needs to be done correctly to work safely. If you’re uncertain about what you are doing, we highly recommend hiring an electrician. Electricity can cause a lot of damage if done incorrectly, and what seems like a simple task is often best left to professionals.
Outlet installations can cost, on average, $300. This price can be lower or significantly higher, depending on the job, location, and special features you need. Most of this cost goes to labor and ensures the job is done safely. A GFCI outlet will cost more to install, as materials are more expensive and more labor is involved.
Most outlets are generally cheap in terms of materials. A standard 120V outlet can be purchased for $4.00 on average. 2-Prong, 3-Prong, and higher voltage outlets (220V, 240V, 250V) range between $5.00 to $20.00 on the high end. A GFCI outlet, on average, is close to $20. Floor and smart outlets are more versatile, costing an average of $40.
If you want your electrician to replace the outlets, you expect a charge of around $55 per hour — but a skilled local electrician could replace as many as twelve outlets in a single hour. Installing new outlets takes up to two hours, depending on the location. Remember that you’ll also pay for the materials and wiring for new outlets, so these jobs cost roughly $150 to $225 per installation.
Many factors alter your costs. If your existing wiring is up to code and already in place, this will lower your costs. On the flip side, your costs will increase if your outlet is in a difficult location or needs more wiring, your costs will increase. If you need outlets to run large appliances, such as a dryer, or installing GFCI outlets, you’ll have a higher cost due to the expensive materials and the job’s complexity. Electricity is hazardous, and a professional is licensed and insured for the job. Beyond simply switching plate covers, it’s a good idea to hire an electrician.
The easy answer is yes, you can do some basic residential electrical work without a license. This answer varies state by state, so double-check regulations where you live. You can replace outlets, light switches, and even light fixtures. Regular switches are easy to replace with dimmer switches, and light fixtures are simple enough to replace with a ceiling fan. Other simple repairs include replacing a fuse or breaker inside an electrical panel. You can replace bathroom fans, hardwired smoke detectors, and appliances or install low-voltage outdoor lighting on your own.
Remember to cut the power before doing any electrical work. Most of these jobs require basic tools. For simple replacements, you can wire the new outlets or switches just as the old ones were. If you’re upgrading them, be certain to read and follow the directions. Replacing fuses and smoke detectors are quick and easy jobs, but replacing a breaker in your electrical panel is more complicated. Be cautious if you need to do this, as it’s often a sign of something wrong in the electrical system. It may be more efficient and effective in the long run to bring in a professional if there are underlying problems.
Not all residential electrical jobs can be done unlicensed. You’ll need a license if you want to upgrade or relocate your panel or upgrade to a 200 amp service. This is also true if you’re adding a new breaker or circuit or running new wiring for an outlet or switch. If you need to add a subpanel, you’ll also need to be licensed. For most electrical work, it’s imperative to stick with a professional if you’re uncomfortable or don’t understand the work. Electricity is dangerous, and you want to prioritize your health, your family’s health, and your home’s safety. Your local electricians will ensure the job is done correctly, which is worth every penny for the peace of mind.