If you are installing outlets yourself, you should already have a good amount of knowledge about running wires through the walls, electrical code, and no code requirements prohibiting your from doing so. You may be doing a DIY remodel and have the knowledge/ meet code requirements, and it can be a great way to save money.
If you don’t have the knowledge or experience, it can be difficult to get the job done safely and in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. If you don’t have the knowledge to do it safely, and a permit is required by your city/county, don’t do it! Call an electrician. If you can do it safely and in-line with code requirements, here are a few tools and materials that may help.
8 Outlet Installation Tools and Materials
Drywall cutout locator:
If you haven’t seen these, they are a dream for cutting outlet holes into drywall when boxes have already been installed. Simply stick the magnetic panel in the ground holes of the outlet, cover it with drywall, and slide the magnet locator over the target. Very strong, rare Earth magnets will pull the locator right into place. Then, you can simply trace the edge of the locator, and you’ll have the location of your hole.
This is a very inexpensive tool (less than $20 on Amazon), and it makes short work of cutting holes for outlets in a professional fashion. It prevents your project from looking like a DIY project with some incorrectly measured holes being too big to cover without an extra-large outlet cover or some drywall patching.
Whether you are cutting holes for pre-installed outlets or doing a remodel and cutting holes for new outlets, a multi-tool will definitely be your friend. It is an oscillating tool that can make short work of cutting just about anything. Use a grout removal blade, and you’ll easily cut through lath and plaster walls. There are many options for drywall. The point of using this multi-tool is not speed. It is accuracy. Using a tool like this allows for precision cutting with very little effort.
If you are installing a new outlet on a pre-existing wall (such as for elevating the outlet for your hanging television), you probably don’t want to cut a big hole in the wall to fasten an electrical box to the stud. The good news is that you don’t have to with remodeling boxes that clasp onto the drywall.
If you don’t know what knob-and-tube wiring is, be thankful. Hopefully you never have to find out. The updated versions of those, aluminum wire and armored cable, are also outdated but may be okay as long as the insulation is intact. If you’re doing a complete remodel, it is incomplete without updating wiring in any of these cases. Romex is the most commonly known non-metallic wiring, meaning its sheath is non-metallic. This is much safer than older alternatives. In most cases, wiring should be handled by a licensed professional. If you are DIYing and running wires to your electrical panel, this is probably the time to call a professional.
OBC AFCI outlets:
Outlet branch circuit arc fault current interrupter (OBC AFCI) outlets are one way to prevent your home from having an electrical fire, and they are included in the electrical code of many municipalities. Arc faults can create a lot of heat, which can result in fire. What causes arc faults? Damaged cords or a nail that makes its way into a wire can cause arc faults to your home electrical system. This is why these outlets are recommended in all areas of the come. Having the interruption occur at the outlet ensures that problems are handled at the place of the problem. This prevents overlooking fire hazards by simply flipping your circuit breaker.
Any place where there is water should have outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These outlets prevent electrical shock or at least eliminate harmful electrical shock by shutting off when detecting a ground fault.
Outlet covers seem like a no-brainer, but there are many options. You should do your research before picking just one. Install outlet covers with lights in the bottom of them to make nice hallway or kitchen cabinet lighting. They come in many different colors and should match your outlets. If you are going for cheap, simple white covers are fine. However, you can really spruce up the appearance and utility of outlet covers by spending a little bit more.
Consider your options when it comes to outlets. Make sure you have three-prong outlets. Consider whether or not you want USB outlets. You may want a smart plug to allow remote or voice control. Motion sensors can trigger outlets to turn on. Modern technology enables futuristic options to be here now. It is a shame to stunt a remodel by not considering applicable technology.