You’ll save big by doing your own home-improvement work and repairs. But most of us are justifiably uneasy about fooling around with 110 volts and 15 or 20 amps of electricity. Electrical work is a dangerous task—and not only because of the shock hazards you can create while doing the job. If you do it poorly, you can also create potential fire or health hazards.

If you need to hire a pro for electrical work, choose your contractor carefully. In our surveys of area consumers who have used electricians, too many comments include the words “incompetent,” “messy,” “no-show,” “overcharged,” and “unresponsive.” Unlike some home-improvement services, lousy electrical work can give you more than a service headache: Sloppy work can put you in a dangerous—and potentially life-threatening—situation. Our Ratings Tables list the area electricians for which we received 10 or more ratings in our surveys of consumers. Although the ratings reveal outfits to avoid, they also identify several you can count on.

We found dramatic price differences among companies for the same work. The key to getting a good price is to get several bids. Fortunately, we’ve found you don’t have to pay more to get good service. Companies that receive positive ratings from their customers are just as likely to charge low prices as companies that receive lower ratings.

Before using any contractor, ask for proof that it is licensed and carries both liability and workers’ compensation insurance.