How to Hire The Right Electrical Contractor

All Star Electric
Lighting installation by San Antonio electrical contractor All Star Electric

Considering what is at stake when you do electrical work in your home, selecting a reliable electrical contractor matters a lot. Not only should your electrical installation be perfectly safe and up to code, but it should also help you save on your electricity usage.

Licensed local electricians are most often competent. But do they have all the knowledge necessary to plan out an energy-efficient installation? You can’t expect all electricians to check all the right boxes. But you ought to select the local electrical contractor that checks most of them.  

In this article, we share professional insights on selecting a reliable electrical contractor for the job you have, based on the criteria of certifications, knowledge, experience, insurance coverage, reputation, process, cost and warranties. Follow this list, and rest assured your work will be done correctly the first time.

Is this local electrician qualified for the job?

Your first selection factor should be qualifications. Is the person (electrician) or company (electrical contractor) qualified for the job? There is only one way to be sure: check for their certifications and licenses.

A local electrician must have the proper qualifications from a reliable certifying body that proves they are suitable for the job. In San Antonio, an electrician will at a minimum have his electrical contractor’s license, known as the Texas Electrical Contractor’s License (TECL). You can check with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). This site shows the license number of the electrician.

Also, you need a copy of the electrician’s insurance, usually provided as a Certificate of Insurance. No insurance? No hire.

Check the size of the coverage too. A small coverage indicates poor financial stability. Insurance companies give more coverage to businesses that have good financial stability and a good track record. Now, there are coverage minimums too, so ask the contractor. 

Check these items first: you will know if you are dealing with a properly certified electrical contractor.

Is this local electrician experienced enough?

There is no substitute for experience. All certified electricians have thousands of hours of experience, so the right question is not “is this local electrician experienced?“, but “is this electrician experienced enough for the type of job I plan to get done?“.

You probably don’t have yourself the knowledge necessary to perform the job. So how can you know upfront if the contractor bidding for it has the right level of experience? A simple way to check is to ask to see a portfolio of work, and then check client references.

Their portfolio should show a good diversity of electrical installations similar to yours. While you review the portfolio, ask questions: What do I see on this photo? Do you repair the hole you had to make in the drywall to route this cable? Why did you use this type of wiring rather than another type? How much did it cost to do this entire job? The way the contractor answers your questions will give you some idea of whether this is real or… not.

Check their references. An electrical contractor with plenty of experience will have plenty of client references to give you. Not all clients agree to be a reference, for sure. But the right contractor has accumulated hundreds of clients over the years and is definitely able to give you some references that match your own job. Call the people. Ask them how good their experience was. If the contractor finished their job in time and on budget. If there were any issues afterwards and how the contractor fixed them.

Check for relevant experience

We mentioned this earlier: the job portfolio should show work similar to yours. This is a critical point. You need to be certain of the electrical contractor’s experience in the type of work you want done. Do you see residential jobs only? Business jobs only? A mixture of home and business? A purely residential electrician is not necessarily specifically qualified to work in a business: there are different wiring methods for different types of electrical work.

How good is this local electrician’s reputation?

Client references are great. But all contractors will give you their very best ones. Not the horrible references where they really botched up the job. You need to read reviews.

Review sites: choices

Which review sites should you consult? Funny enough, different websites attract different types of reviews. Here is our 2 cents:

  • Google: Google offers a well-diversified mix of reviews. Peole have to have an account to drop a review, so this tends to filter out the fakes. Not 100%, of course: Google also has fake reviews. But in general, the mix is good, and the ratings are realistic. Check out our own reviews on Google here.
  • Facebook: Facebook’s recommendations give good insights in what people appreciate most with the contractor. Read our Facebook reviews here.
  • Yelp: To maintain a great rating in Yelp is really hard. Yelpers tend to vent out. So the reviews on Yelp are usually more negative than elsewhere. We have a 4.6 rating on Yelp, and that’s something we are pretty proud of.
  • Angi (formerly Angie’s List): Reviews on Angi tend to be either very long or very short. But they are verified reviews, so Angi has few fake reviews, if any. You can read our reviews on Angi here.
  • BBB: The Better Business Bureau has a Reviews section on their site but few people go to the BBB to leave a review. However, the BBB offers a previous view into the history of complaints of a business. This is important. An electrical contractor with an A+ rating on the BBB has a clean track record. Even if there were (a few) complaints, the contractor resolved them to the satisfaction of the client, or the BBB decided that the client was wrong and the contractor was right. The BBB does not maintain an A+ rating when a contractor has too many complaints. So check the BBB to see the “Customer Complaints” and the rating of the contractor. Our listing at the BBB is here.

Reading reviews: the good, the bad, and the ugly

When you read reviews, check the details of what people say they liked (the strengths of the electrician). When people are unhappy with a job, how did the contractor respond? Did they make an offer to come back to the client’s home or place of business to fix the mess? Did they try to make it right in earnest? No one has a perfect track record, there will always be some bad reviews. But if the electrical contractor tried in earnest to make it right, it shows fortitude of character. This is an important selection factor.

How many reviews?

The number of reviews will vary widely depending on the city, the industry, and the size of the business. In a big city, the more competition and the bigger the business, the more reviews they will get. So you could have a smaller contractor with 1/5th of the reviews of a big contractor, but with a much better rating. It is difficult to compare businesses strictly by the number of reviews. But as a customer, you should be able to read enough reviews to make up your mind. According to research studies, people say that they feel comfortable assessing the reputation of a local business when they can view at least 30 reviews. Does this number match your own expectations?

What’s a good rating?

In our experience, reputable businesses in the trades (electricians, HVAC, painters, roofers, cleaners, etc.) tend to have ratings comprised between 4.5 and 4.9. We think a 4.6 rating and above shows excellent reliability when when the number of reviews exceeds 30.

After this, it’s a matter of comparing between ratings.

Process, cost, and warranty

Explaining the process

As far as process goes, a reliable contractor will always be willing to answer directly any questions you have in regards to the plan they propose, and explain each step in detail so that everyone is at the same page.

The process of an electrical installation is like a “choreography”: one thing come after another, and when 2 tasks run concurrently, their completion timings coincide. When a task requires another contractor to finish their job, the electrical installation plan will take this into account with notes such as “Dependent upon plumbing – estimated date: ____”. 

Good planning and coordination with other trades are the hallmarks of an experienced electrical contractor. Your life should not be disrupted more than it is necessary.     

Estimates and quotes

To select a bid among those received from the electrical contractors you consulted, look at the details of the estimates. A job bid should show details. What will they do? What can you expect? Can you cross off a list of deliverables? How long will the job take? All this should show on the estimate.

The electrician’s estimate should include materials, labor, and any additional costs such as permits or inspections. Estimates for residential electrical work are usually free. For very large homes and businesses, they may be subject to a small fee, but will often be deductible from the price of the job if the contractor is hired.

There is a major difference between an estimate and a quote. The first is a good approximation of the final cost of the job. The second is a firm commitment on a price. That’s entirely different. Make sure you understand what you are looking at. We don’t mean that estimates are bad. Sometimes, it is impossible to figure out the final cost before you open the box. But if you need a firm quote, then the electrician is likely to spend a lot of time looking at the bowels of your home to find out the “skeletons in the cupboard”, if there are any. Just discuss what you need with the electrical contractor, so that everyone is at the same page.


Ask the electrical contractors bidding for your job about their warranty policy. Any electrician worth their salt will offer a strong warranty to back up their work. A good warranty is at least 6-month long. A great warranty is valid for 1 year and more. All Star Electric offers a 2-year warranty.

“Lifetime warranties” are rarely enforceable: they are usually no more than a marketing ploy, for at least 2 reasons: (1) On average, homeowners only stay 5 years in a home. (2) No business can guarantee they will stay in business for your whole lifetime. Some businesses insure their warranties, but insurance policies are usually not transferable. So if a business is bought out by another or goes bankrupt, a “lifetime warranty” is worth no more than the paper on which it is written.  

Don’t forget to ask the electrical contractor if the materials/supplies they provide also come with manufacturer’s warranties. These warranties add value to any electrical installation because warrantied material is typically of better quality.

Decision timing and readiness

There are two aspects of the electrical work planning that are under your control. And these are very important factors.

How long will it take you to decide?

Before the electrical contractors give you their bids, be upfront with your timing. Tell them if you want the job to start next week, next month, 6 months from now, or… you don’t even know for sure. This makes a huge difference in the bidding process, and it affects the cost of the job too.

During the 2020 pandemic, the prices of electrical supplies increased by 3x, sometimes as much as 5x or 6x. Electricians had a hard time getting their hands on the materials needed. The cost of transportation had become a real concern. People had received a quote several weeks before the lockdowns, but did not act on it until after the lockdown orders. The contractors had to eat the cost difference. Some went bankrupt on this factor alone.

This is an extreme situation, but with the wars going on, there is a lot of uncertainty on the stability of the supply chain. When the contractor puts a bid based on the timing you gave, if you move this timing and delay the starting date, their planning goes up in smoke and you may wind up waiting a long time for the job to be complete.


Big electrical jobs typically create a lot of disturbance in your routine. You will likely have to move stuff out of the way., and disconnect some of your electrical devices to put them elsewhere in your home. You may have to contact other contractors to do jobs that must precede the electrical installation or modifications.

Your own readiness matters very much to your electrical contractor.

So while “readiness” is not a factor in your selection criteria, it is a vital component of your overall experience with the work of your contractor. If you are not ready when you said you will, this will delay the process planned out by your electrician, and impact the whole project. 

If you need to move a set date by which this or that should be ready on your side but won’t be ready for some unforeseen event, give your contractor enough advance notice to allow them to rearrange scheduling. Be aware that a small delay could result in a much longer one, especially if several contractors work at the same time on your home or business place.

A savvy and experienced electrical contractor will discuss this aspect with you before you sign the contract. When you are both looking at the proposed planning, the contractor will give you dates and tell you what he expects from you at these dates. Be ready when it is time to be.

How can All Star Electric become your electrical contractor of choice?

Electrical contractor All Star Electric has been operating in San Antonio and the area for almost 30 years. We have seen many, many different situations, in thousands of homes and businesses in which we changed and upgraded electrical installations.

We can provide you with all the documents you need to make a well-informed decision. All Star Electric practices reasonable prices, and looks after the best interest of its clients. When we upgrade an electrical installation for instance, we always seek ways to minimize your power usage and decrease your electricity bill.

As you have probably seen on our website, we do all types of electrical work: from service panels, to outdoor lighting, from kitchen electrical remodeling to electrical safety inspections. For our team of certified electricians, there is no job too big or too small. We invite you to call us at (210) 391-0274 and discuss any project you have in mind for your home or business.

FAQ: How to hire the right electrical contractor

What are the right criteria to assess before hiring an electrical contractor?

Certifications, knowledge, experience, insurance coverage, reputation, process, cost, and warranties.

What to look at to hire a qualified electrical contractor?

Certifications, certificate of insurance, experience of jobs similar to the one you are planning.

Which review sites to look at to assess the reputation of an electrical contractor?

Google, Facebook, Angi, Yelp, and the BBB

Are bad reviews a sign I should not hire this electrical contractor?

It’s up to you, but the fact is no one has a perfect record. Everyone gets a bad review from time to time. What matters is the total rating, and how the electrician replied to bad reviews.

What’s a good warranty for electrical work?

6 month is a good base. 1 year and more is way better. Lifetime warranties are questionable. Warranties should also cover at least some of the electrical supplies provided by the electrical contractor.

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