Licensed electrical contractor vs. qualified electrician – do you know the difference?

You’ve made the decision to have electrical work done in your home. Now it’s time to hire the right person for the job.

Perhaps you talk to a few friends for referrals, or you search ads for qualified electricians. But it’s not actually a qualified electrician you want to search for.

In Ontario, if you’re hiring someone to do electrical work in your home, by law it must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor. What’s the difference?  Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) are the only businesses in Ontario legally authorized to do electrical work in your home. Qualified electricians are employed by Licensed Electrical Contractors.

Here are three things to help ensure you’re hiring an LEC:

  1. LECs will be able to provide you with an ECRA/ESA licence number that proves they are licensed in Ontario. This licence number should appear on their vehicles, business cards and estimates.
  2. LECs will be able to provide you with a Certificate of Inspection from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) once the work is complete, for your records.
  3. If you’re using a general contractor, interior designer or other trade professional who subcontracts the electrical work, confirm they’ve hired an LEC for the electrical work. Also confirm the LEC will be arranging the required electrical permit and inspections. General handymen, other service providers or freelance electricians not working for a Licensed Electrical Contractor can’t do electrical work in your home unless their business holds an electrical contractor’s licence.

Hiring an LEC is the Safest Decision to Make

There are many electrical dangers in your home that can put you and your loved ones at risk.

Electrical work is dangerous and always best left to an LEC with the expertise, equipment and training to do the job safely. Hiring the wrong person for the job can result in major property damage, or even loss of life. You may know someone who can do the work cheap, but consider the real cost if something went wrong.  And, if an insurance claim can be traced back to work that was performed by an unlicensed electrician, your claim may be denied. All LECs::

  • Are fully insured
  • Will arrange permits
  • Are qualified to perform the type of electrical work you require
  • Can offer a Certificate of Inspection
  • Can provide references

All of this helps protect you and ensure safe electrical work.

Remember: you can always verify or find a Licensed Electrical Contractor in your area using ESA’s easy look-up tool:

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Note: These electrical licensing requirements are specific to Ontario. Regulations and requirements vary for each province.

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