Installing Doorbells and Door Chimes

A doorbell.

Doorbell installation, whether in new construction or to replace an old doorbell, is a fairly simple process. Before beginning, decide which type of doorbell or chime is best for your home.

How it Works

Traditional doorbells can be installed on one or more doors. The signal is sent to the same bell from either button. The drawback to a traditional doorbell system installed on more than one door (such as a front and back entry) is that the signal sounds the same regardless of which button is pushed, and it is difficult to tell where the guest is ringing from.

Single Doorbells

Single doorbells are quite simple to install. A wire is strung from the doorbell button to a terminal on the transformer. A second line runs from another terminal to the bell itself (the sounding mechanism). The transformer is plugged or wired into a power source.

Two Different Door Buttons

Doorbell systems running from two different door buttons to the same chime are just a little more complex. Starting at the transformer terminal, run a wire from the terminal to the front doorbell button. From the front button, run the same wire to the bell (signal device). Wiring continues from the bell to the second doorbell, and from the second doorbell back to the same terminal on the transformer as is used for the first doorbell button, making a complete circuit from front to back button using one terminal. A separate wire runs from the other transformer terminal to the bell.

Wireless System

Alternatively, a wireless doorbell system can be installed. The most difficult part of installing a wireless system is installing the button. Remove the old button and mark the wires. Replace the button with the new wireless doorbell button. The signaling bell is either battery operated or will plug into a household outlet. It can be placed anywhere inside the home within range of the wireless bell.

Door Chimes

Door chimes are often favored because one system can be used for two or more doors, and a different tone or number of chimes can be set to differentiate between locations. Many prefer the pleasant sound of door chimes, and the box/chime is more attractive to look at.

Door chimes are installed in much the same way as doorbells. Depending on the number of doors and chime options, the wiring will differ between manufacturers. Generally speaking, one wire is run from the doorbell to a designated terminal on the chime itself. Another wire runs from the doorbell button to the transformer, then to the chime. Separate terminals are used for each doorbell button.


The transformer is an important part of doorbell and chime systems. Doorbells run off much less power than household currents, and the transformer converts the charge. While it used to be that transformers were purchased separately from the doorbell unit, that is no longer the norm. Most systems are sold complete with the appropriate size transformer. If an existing doorbell system is being replaced and the transformer will not be changed, it is very important to consult the manufacturer's requirements and store personnel or an electrician to be sure the transformer in the home is appropriate.

Doorbells make a nice addition to the home. Easily installed, doorbells make it much easier to know when a guest has arrived, and ensure that visitors won't be missed when residents are out of range of hard-to-hear knocking. Follow the overview provided here, and consult the manufacturer's installation instructions particular to your chosen doorbell system.