Here are tips and instructions for installing doorbells, buzzers or chimes. Take a few minutes to read the directions thoroughly. Following both these and manufacturers’ instructions can save you time and effort while helping you achieve a satisfying finish. Inside this document you will find information about:

  • Basic Information About Doorbells, Buzzers, or Chimes
  • Information About the Transformer
  • Installing a Single-button Doorbell
  • Wiring for Buttons on Front & Back Doors
  • Wiring for a Backdoor Buzzer & a Front Doorbell
  • Wiring Arrangement for Combination Bell & Buzzer
  • Locating the Transformer in the Basement
  • Wiring Door Chimes
  • Wiring a Four-note Chime
  • Locating Trouble in Bells & Chimes



  • Wireless doorbells, buzzers and chimes consist of two units. The pushbutton unit is battery operated. The sound unit runs on household current provided by a regular outlet.
  • Most of today’s doorbells and buzzers operate on 10 volts. Most modern door chimes operate on 16 volts.
  • Be sure the transformer you purchase with a doorbell, buzzer or chime is designed to provide the correct voltage for the mechanism you plan to install.
  • When you replace an older doorbell or buzzer with a new chime unit, you will probably have to replace the transformer too. The new transformer will provide the required voltage output.
  • If you are installing a battery-operated unit, you will not need to worry about transformers or power sources. These units are attractive enough to be installed on a wall in a room. Follow the instructions for button installation that matches the type of battery-powered unit you have bell, buzzer, chime or combination.



  • On the newer doorbell, buzzer and chime units, the transformer is built into the unit. This eliminates the need for a separate transformer. When working with older systems you will need a separate transformer.
  • The 16-volt transformer needed for chimes is slightly larger than the 10-volt transformer used for bells or buzzers.
  • Both transformers are relatively small and fit into small areas such as outlet boxes.
  • A transformer reduces normal 120-volt power to 10 or 16 volts, thus adapting regular current to low-voltage equipment such as chimes, buzzers and bells.
  • A transformer usually has two permanent wires one white and one black designed to provide power to the unit from the power source.
  • Two attachment screws are mounted on the opposite side of the transformer for attaching low-voltage wires that in turn are connected to the bell, buzzer or chime.
  • Most transformers are designed so they can be mounted directly to an outlet or junction box. The primary power source wires can then be run directly into the box.
  • If the transformer is not mounted directly to the outlet or junction box, the connecting 120-volt wires should always run through safe, insulated connectors and be spliced inside the box.
  • Use No. 18 bell wire to connect to the two terminal screws on the low-voltage side of the transformer. Even though the voltage on these transformers is very low, you must still practice the rules of safety. Turn off the power before you start to work.
  • Use insulated staples to hold the bell wire in place. It is normally run along baseboards or in other exposed areas in a room.



  • The simplest doorbell or buzzer installation is the wiring illustrated in. In this instance, a button is mounted on one door only to operate the buzzer or bell.
  • One wire runs unbroken from the terminal screw on the button of the bell or buzzer to the terminal screw on the transformer. The second wire runs from the button to one of the terminal screws on the bell, then from the second terminal screw back to the other screw on the transformer.
  • The button can be mounted on any door as far away from the bell as you’d like and the bell and transformer can be mounted in any concealed location.



  • When you would like to have doorbell buttons on both the front and back doors, one wire goes directly from the terminal screws on both the front and backdoor buttons to one of the terminal screws on the transformer.
  • The second wire goes directly from the other terminal screw on both buttons to the terminal screws on the bell.
  • Finally, a third wire connects to the left terminal screw on the bell and to the other terminal screw on the transformer.
  • One disadvantage to this system is that the person hearing the bell from inside the house never knows whether to answer the front or back door since both buttons activate the same bell sound.



  • One way to solve this problem is by installing a bell and a buzzer. Try using a buzzer at the back door and a bell at the front door.
  • Use the wiring system shown for wiring a buzzer and a bell at two different locations. The wiring is basically the same, except the buzzer is wired in between the terminal screw on the backdoor button and the terminal screw on the bell.
  • The buzzer, bell and transformer can be concealed in any location. This works well if you already have either a bell or buzzer installed. If you do not, consider a combination bell and buzzer unit to simplify installation and reduce cost.



  • A combination bell and buzzer gives you a buzzer for the back door and a bell for the front door in one unit. You’ll notice that this unit has three terminal screws rather than two.
  • Follow the wiring arrangement shown in the picture for installing the combination bell and buzzer unit so the bell rings when the front door button is pushed and the buzzer is activated at the back door.
  • The bell and buzzer should be placed so that the sound can be heard throughout the house. The sounds from bells and buzzers hidden deep in attics or closets may be muffled and even completely shut out.



  • The best location for the transformer in many homes is the basement. You can see how to connect the transformer to an outlet box in the basement, while the wiring is run to the front and back doors and the bell and buzzer unit. Run low-voltage bell wire along the baseboard and around door frames, and use insulated staples to hold the wire in place. Such bell wire is neither expensive nor unsightly.
  • Always select a transformer with overload protection on the secondary or low-voltage wiring. Built-in protection of this type will cut off the current when trouble occurs in the transformer.



  • Many homeowners enjoy the sound of chimes rather than doorbells or buzzers. Chimes are attractive, and the sound is very pleasant.
  • Most chimes already provide separate tones for your front and back doors. This makes it easy to determine from which door the chime is activated.
  • Chimes of various types are available for you to use. A four-note chime unit may sound single notes for the back door and as many as eight notes for the front door. The wiring diagram shows how to wire a dual-chime unit for one note to sound from the back door and two notes to chime from the front door. You’ll notice the similarity between wiring a chime and a doorbell or buzzer.
  • Chimes are usually much more attractive than bells or buzzers. For this reason, you may want to mount them right on the wall in a room.
  • Again, remember that the chime should be mounted in a location that allows you to hear the chimes throughout your home.

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