How to Save Money on Home Electrical Work

As a homeowner, electrical work can be daunting. Dealing with complicated wiring, the risk of electrocution, and the potential to overload your electrical system means DIY electrical projects should be approached with care. However, hiring a professional electrician can also be very expensive. With some basic knowledge and preparation, you may be able to take on minor electrical projects yourself and save a substantial amount of money in the process.

Learning About Home Electrical Systems

Before doing any electrical work on your home, you need to understand the basics of how home electrical systems work. Some key things to know include:

Electrical Circuits

Your home's electrical system consists of circuits that all connect back to your main electrical panel. Most standard homes have 15-20 individual circuits running to different parts of the house. Understanding which appliances, lights, and outlets are on which circuits is crucial when doing electrical work.

Current and Voltage

Electricity refers to the movement of electrons along a conductor. The rate at which electrons flow is the current, measured in amps. Voltage is the electrical potential, or pressure pushing the electrons. Standard household voltage is 120 volts. Matching voltage and current capacity is vital for electrical safety.

Electrical Panels

The main electrical panel is the central hub that splits power to all the home's circuits. Knowing the capacity of your panel and if you have any open breaker slots is key for any upgrades or additions.

Electrical Codes

All electrical work must follow local building codes and the National Electrical Code (NEC). The NEC specifies things like required wire gauges, connection methods, and safety standards.

Spending time to learn basic electrical principles, terminology, and codes is an investment that will pay off through safer, more successful DIY projects.

Assessing Electrical Project Difficulty

Once you understand the basics, you can better evaluate the difficulty of any electrical project. Safety should be the number one priority.

In general, relatively straightforward tasks like installing a new light fixture, switch, or outlet can be DIY. More complex projects like new circuits, load calculations, and electrical panel upgrades require an electrician.

Consider the following factors when deciding if a project is DIY appropriate:

Get professional help rather than attempting complex electrical work beyond your skill level. The potential risks are simply too great.

Buying Electrical Supplies

Stocking up on basic supplies will allow you to take on minor electrical repairs and improvements. Focus on purchasing quality materials from reputable electrical suppliers.


For most household projects, 12 or 14 gauge NM-B wiring will be suitable. Only buy enough for your specific project needs.


For new circuits, obtain a breaker that matches your panel brand and has adequate amperage capacity for the circuit.

Boxed Kits

For installing fixtures, switches, and outlets, boxed kits with all the necessary components make projects simpler.


At minimum, you'll need a good voltage tester, wire strippers, and multimeter. Insulated tools and a non-contact voltage detector are also recommended for safety. Buy personal protective equipment like safety goggles and electrical gloves as well.

Check local codes before purchasing any materials to ensure compliance. Buying the right electrical equipment is a key part of saving money on projects.

Hiring Electricians for Large Jobs

While a DIY approach can save thousands of dollars on minor electrical work, professionals are required for major upgrades or repairs. Considering the following when hiring an electrician:

Although still expensive, paying market rates for qualified professionals on big jobs is worthwhile for your safety. Focus DIY efforts on smaller projects only.

Following Electrical Safety Precautions

Working with electrical systems can be hazardous, so safety should be your top priority. Some key precautions include:

Rushing electrical work or ignoring safety is extremely dangerous. Take things slow and steady. Patience and caution will allow you to complete projects safely.


With proper knowledge, preparation, and attention to safety, DIY electrical work can save homeowners thousands of dollars compared to hiring electricians. Stick to minor projects like fixtures and switches rather than complicated wiring jobs. Always put safety first by using extreme caution when working with electrical systems. If at any point you feel unsure or overwhelmed, call a professional rather than risking injury or a fire hazard. With prudence and care, you can gain experience and take on basic electrical repairs and upgrades yourself over time. Just be sure to get licensed electricians for major electrical projects in your home.