MUST HAVE ELECTRICAL BOOKS
The following are a curated list of electrical books that are essential in reading if you hope to understand electricity, and how it pertains to the electrical trade. No-matter where you’re at in your career, these are books that will give you great value whether it be for studying for an exam, understanding electrical theory, figuring out how motors work, understanding transformers, wiring diagrams, or just basic electrical theory.
PRACTICE TEST FOR THE RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICIAN
If you’re studying for your state licensing exam, this is a great book to start with. It is 100 practice questions that will help you navigate the National Electrical Code, along with all of the answers and direct citations to find the answers in the code book. When studying to take an exam you need to take as many practice exams as you can, and take them over and over so you get faster at finding information in the NEC. There’s even a section in the beginning that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the code book, to help you understand how the book is laid out and how to better understand it in it’s entirety.
For beginners really trying to wrap their heads around how electricity works, this visual guide is a killer book to have in your collection. Even if you’ve read 2 or 3 other books and you think you have a firm grasp on this stuff, this book will fill the gaps that you may have in your understanding because it does so visually. It is an old book yes, but an outstanding book nonetheless. It’s a great foundation to building an understanding from, and I highly recommend buying it no-matter how far along you are in this trade.
ELECTRICAL COURSES FOR APPRENTICES & JOURNEYMEN
This was the first book I read on electricity, many years ago. It’s a modern, fresh look at electricity that helps field electricians wrap their heads around how electricity works, in terms an electrician understands. There are a ton of helpful graphics in the book, and ample explanations to step up your knowledge-base on topics like single-phase vs three-phase, different types of motor windings, transforming AC electricity, capacitive reactance, inductive reactance, electrical theory, AC vs DC, and SO much more.
INDUSTRIAL MOTOR CONTROLS
Once you’ve wrapped your head around the basic concepts of electricity, and have gotten your hands dirty out in the field applying your knowledge - it’s time to step your game up a notch. This book is a great advanced book for a Journeyman level understanding of how to control motors, relays, plcs, and industrial machinery. It covers schematics, diagrams, motor controls, control circuits, ladder-logic, ladder diagrams, and MUCH more. This will take things to a new level for you my friend.
TRANSFORMER PRINCIPLES AND APPLICATIONS
This book is a must have in your collection of Electrical Nerd-Out books. It covers pretty much anything and everything you could want to know about transformers. It talks about every type of transformer that exists, the fields around them, ways to cool them, how they can be damaged, how to size them, and a lot more.
NFPA 70 NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE - HANDBOOK
This may seem like a silly recommendation, as it is a minimum standard to know the National Electrical Code. But this recommendation is more specific to the Handbook edition of the NFPA 70. This is a more expensive version of the book that has images, notes, and extra text that go deeper into the code and help to explain the “intent” of the code within the code itself. This is just an interpretation of the code, just like anyone else’s, however it is written by the NFPA - the people who write the NEC. It’s a little steep in cost, but worth having a copy of for the extra explanations for sure.
NFPA 70E - STANDARD FOR ELECTRICAL SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE
I personally think that everybody needs to have a copy of this book. Unfortunately most companies and electricians focus on reading the NEC (NFPA 70) and not the NFPA 70E - which is all about working safely with electricity. It doesn’t cover electrical code, rather it focuses on electrical safety. I firmly believe that every electrician should have the understandings housed in this book firmly planted in their minds. It’s a tool that helps each of us get home to our families at the end of the day.
UNDERSTANDING THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE VOL 1
Understanding the NEC can be a difficult thing to do because of how it is written. If you’re studying for a test or simply trying to digest the content so that you have a better grasp about what codes mean, then you should check out Understanding The National Electrical Code - Volume 1 by Mike Holt. This is a visual guide to understanding the NEC, and it is laid out beautifully. Not only does it cover the first half of the NEC in depth with explanations and examples, it gives you diagrams and illustrations so you can visually see what is being talked about. This will help you really dig in to code mastery.
UNDERSTANDING THE NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE VOL 2
This is Part 2 to Understanding The Electrical Code - This volume covers Chapters 5 - 7 of the National Electrical Code, and gives explanations, examples, and outstanding visual graphics that help you to really understand what the NEC is saying. If you’re stumped by code, get this book and get Volume 1 while you’re at it. They’re both a must have in your electrical knowledge library.
UGLY’S ELECTRICAL REFERENCES
A great tool for every electrician, whether Apprentice, Journeyman, or Master is an up-to-date Ugly’s book. Ugly’s takes a wealth of knowledge from the National Electrical Code, to safety, pipe-bending, motor windings, transformers, tying knots, basic mechanics and mathematics, CPR, and basically everything you may need to know out in the field as an electrician - and wraps it all into a spiral-bound reference book that fits in your back pocket. Dope as hell!
DELMAR’S STANDARD TEXTBOOK OF ELECTRICITY
This is really a well put together textbook that covers all of the essentials of understanding electricity in how it relates to an electrician. It goes over safety practices, static electricity, magnetism, ohm’s law, conduction of liquids and gases, AC inductors, resistance, and SO much more. Get this book if you want something that covers everything in a well-presented complete package.
AMERICAN ELECTRICIANS’ HANDBOOK
This is a pretty awesome little pocket guide to troubleshooting electrical systems. For most Journeyman and Master Electricians a lot of this information is common sense, but there are some things that deal with Thermal troubleshooting, as well as dealing with Triplen Harmonics and heating of grounded conductors caused by Non-Linear Load distribution that I think are worth the read.
ELECTRICIAN’S TROUBLESHOOTING AND TESTING POCKET GUIDE
This book is a great reference tool to have in your possession. It covers a wide range of topics, but from the perspective of troubleshooting and testing. Rather than just covering theory, this book talks about practical ways to test circuits and troubleshoot things like “transformers” for instance. Its a hell of a thing to have on your side, especially if you’re on the service side of the electrical industry.
FUNDAMENTALS OF MOTOR CONTROL
Fundamentals of motor control is a great textbook to start with if you’re trying to wrap your mind around controlling motors - simply put. There are a lot of ways motors can be controlled, through switches, motor controllers, variable speed drives, relays, contactors, programmable logic controllers, etc. This book covers many of the methods and hardware that is used in modern motor-control circuits.
ELECTRIC POWER GENERATION - A NON-TECHNICAL GUIDE
This book is a lot of fun because, as it states, it is a non-technical guide. It doesn’t aim to bore you with too many details and calculations, rather it explains things in a very easy-to-understand way so you grasp the concepts of power generation without getting “lost in the sauce” so to speak, with mathematical/engineering jargon.
NAVY CONSTRUCTION ELECTRICIAN (BASIC)
This is a cool book to get your hands on. It contains a lot of the fundamentals of modern electrical understanding and practice, however it has the added perspective of how the military teaches the subject. This is not as practical for residential and commercial electricians to read, however if you’re a dork like I am this is an extremely useful bank of knowledge that helps you further understand our trade in a new light. Ever wonder how ships, bases, and aircraft hangers are wired? Ya, check this one out.
ELECTRICAL STUDIES FOR TRADES
Electrical Studies for Trades is yet another fantastic book written by Stephen L. Herman, who writes a lot of books on electrical theory. This book is great because it is directed specifically at the trades, so it is meant for an electrician-level understanding. It doesn’t dive off too deep into engineering topics, but rather stays appropriately in the realm of being an electrician in the construction or service trades.