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Every Yellow Pages in the country contains pages and pages of electricians and electrical contractors. So, when you need one for either an emergency or some improvements you’re planning, how do you choose?

It’s hard to tell merely from an advert whether a company is reputable, whether it has been around long, whether it will charge you what it has quoted and whether the electricians they send you are properly qualified to do the job.

At the very least, you need a registered electrician. This is someone who has spent four years working and studying full-time in the electrical industry. They will have passed written and practical tests, achieved nationally recognised unit standards, and successfully sat a final exam on theory and the extremely complex electrical regulations.

On top of this, registered electricians must each year renew their practising licence, issued by the Electricity Registration Board, so that they are up to speed on any changes in the industry. When an electrician comes to your house or place of work, always ask to see this practising licence.

Using a registered electrician will guarantees that all electrical work is carried out safely and competently. And, if the electrical contracting company you use is a Master Electrician, a member of the Electrical Contractors Association, the threshold for quality workmanship is even higher.

As a member, a Master Electrician electrical contractor undertakes to conduct business in a safe, competent and professional manner. Under the Association’s rules, a member’s workmanship is backed by a $10,000 guarantee.

One question we are often asked is how much electrical work can someone do who is not a registered electrician, but who is perhaps a pretty good home handyman? The answer is not very much. Non-registered electricians are not allowed, by law, to make anything live, nor can they hook up anything to a switchboard.

Registered electricians, on the other hand, carry test equipment to check that every aspect of the work they do is safe whereas unqualified electricians simply may not know whether their work is safe or not. And given that the people most likely to be using electrical equipment in your house are your friends and loved ones, why would you want to play Russian roulette with their safety and their lives? Always, always use a registered or Master electrician when doing electrical work around your home.