How to Install a Doorbell

Door chimes are easy to install and require little or no maintenance. At the touch of a button, your guests can announce themselves with the sound of pleasant chimes or even recorded music. Some are even lighted and come in may shapes and styles. Although they may vary in style, all door chimes operate under the same basic principle. When the button is pressed, a low-voltage electrical current is transmitted over wires to activate the chime. A transformer converts 120-volt house current to 20 volts or less. Depending on the circuit pattern, you can have more than one button or chime, enabling you to place buttons at front and back doors that will ring at different locations in the house.

There is also the convenience of wireless doorbells available now. All you need for these are 4 screws for the doorbell relay and a couple of screws for the bell controls. You can place these wireless chimes anywhere you’d like, usually up to 50 feet apart. Some even come with programmable features where you can have certain songs played.

For your wired chime, the basement is the best place to install the transformer, near an electrical junction box if possible. If your house has no basement, you can mount the transformer in a closet with an electrical source or in some other place where it will be hidden from view.

When installing a door chime, locate it where it will be heard throughout the house. An entrance hall near the door or a stairwell may be the best place, although kitchens and foyers are often suitable as well.

Wiring the new chime from the basement transformer involves drilling holes in three locations-in the exterior wall at the door for running wire to the button; in the wall where the chime will be located; and in the basement floor directly beneath the wall so that the button and chime wires can be concealed inside the wall.

With new construction or an addition to a house, it is easier to install a door chime at the same time as other electrical wiring is put in-after the walls are framed but before any drywall is hung.

Check all local electrical and building codes before beginning work, and disconnect power to the electrical junction box where the transformer will be mounted.

Once the door chime is installed, it should give you trouble-free operation for years to come.

What you will need:

Electric drill and bits

Fish tape



Wire stripper

Doorbell, chime or buzzer

Bell wire


Door button

Electrician’s tape

Wire nuts

Things to plan:

Plan to position the chime where you can hear it throughout the house.

Locate the transformer near an electrical junction box.

Turn off electrical power before beginning work

Plan to have a helper to fish wire through walls or floors.

Step by step:

Drill holes

Feed wire through walls

Wire the electrical components

Fasten chime, door button and transformer in place

Turn on power and test system

Patch walls if necessary

Always buy more wire than you think you will need. Do not cut the length until you are sure it reaches all components.

Before threading electrical wires between the walls, label the ends of wires to ensure correct connections at the door button, transformer and bell.

In this and subsequent steps, use caution when boring holes. Drill slowly and stop immediately if you encounter any unusual resistance or hear a metallic sound! When drilling from the first floor to the basement or crawl space, have a helper check your progress and warn you of any impending problem.

Installing your own doorbell can be a simple, yet satisfying task.

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