What's in My Electrician's Van?

by Team eLocal
The hands of a male electrician packs up a tool bag resting on the inside of his contractor van

Prompt electrical repairs can be essential to the safety of families and businesses, so electricians must be ready to handle a wide variety of tasks on any service call. To accommodate their daily work, an electrician's truck must become a warehouse on wheels, with an inventory that includes most standard tools and the materials necessary to get almost any job done.

If you’ve ever wondered how your electrician manages to be so prepared, here's a glimpse behind the doors of an electrical service truck.

What Does an Electrician Typically Keep in Their Truck?

Depending on the types of clients they service, an electrician may try to stock the materials they'll likely need to complete most jobs on the first visit. Although personal preferences, specialty and experience level may influence what’s inside the vehicle, electrical service vans and trucks typically include:

Tools of the Trade

Electricians may carry several types of tools:

  • Insulated tools. Although electricians often carry standard construction tools such as hammers, screwdrivers and pliers, these items often feature insulated handles so they're suited for electrical work.
  • Power tools. Most wiring runs behind the walls of homes and businesses. Handheld power tools, including saws, drills and drivers, help electricians access critical components. Extra batteries or extension cords to keep these items running should also be part of the truck’s inventory.
  • Cutting tools. In addition to power tools, electricians typically stock basic cutting tools, such as box cutters and hacksaws.
  • Electrical tools. Specialty tools such as voltage testers and circuit finders help electricians quickly identify live wires and match outlets with the correlating circuit. Electricians also carry conduit benders, reaming bits, fish tape and wire strippers to simplify their work with wires and conduits.
  • Precision tools. Useful items such as a level and measuring tape provide precision measurements so electricians can complete installations accurately.

Essential Materials

Many of the materials needed for electrical work are small and easily stocked, so an electrician’s van likely contains the items needed to repair or run wiring and install or repair most electrical fixtures. As part of an electrical service van’s inventory, you’ll probably find the following items, sometimes in an assortment of colors and sizes:

  • Wire
  • Anchors
  • Ballasts
  • Bushings
  • Caulk
  • Clamps
  • Connectors and couplings
  • Cables, cords and cord sets
  • Duct and electrical tape
  • Ducts
  • Fuses
  • Electrical conduit and conduit hangers
  • Nuts, bolts, nails, washers and other hardware

Miscellaneous Items

In addition to the tools and materials needed to get the job done, electricians often carry other practical items such as:

  • A first-aid kit
  • A tablet or small computer
  • Invoices, service agreements and other paperwork
  • Cleaning supplies such as paper towels, wet wipes and spray-on cleaners
  • Insulated work gloves and other protective equipment

What Common Parts Does an Electrician Typically Have on Hand?

Electrical work often involves more than just wiring, so your electrician’s van probably contains many of the additional parts and components needed for repairs and installation. These may include:

  • Breaker boxes and their associated parts
  • Electrical receptacles, including switch/outlet combination devices
  • Electrical hubs
  • Grounding bars
  • Outlet and receptacle cover plates
  • Switches
  • Thermostats
  • Lamp-holder sockets and bulbs of varying wattages
  • Photocells
  • Terminals
  • Doorbells
  • Smoke detectors and smoke detector batteries
  • Weatherhead

What Parts Does an Electrician Typically Have to Order?

Depending on the job, an electrician may need to order parts and materials before completing the necessary work. Although electricians typically stock the items needed for most jobs, they may need to order parts that can’t easily be stocked on a truck or van, such as larger or more costly materials. An electrician may also order parts at a customer's request, such as specific types of thermostats or lighting fixtures.

What Kinds of Services Should You Expect an Electrician to Be Able to Do?

General electricians perform a variety of services for households and businesses. Common tasks they may be expected to perform include:

  • Inspecting electrical components
  • Identifying electrical problems
  • Repairing and replacing wiring, fixtures and other electrical components
  • Installing lighting fixtures, smoke detectors, alarm systems and other hardwired items

An electrician should also be well-versed in state and local building regulations so any repair work they do meets safety codes.