Basic Information About Doorbells, Buzzers or Chimes

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.


  • Always use a heavy transformer (16 volts to 20 volts) that matches the voltage requirement for a larger chime.
  • Read the manufacturer's instructions and follow them carefully. Many larger transformers require specific wiring arrangements.
  • The image shows a simple wiring plan for a four-note chime.
  • In the illustration, the transformer is located in an outlet box in the basement, and the wire feeds to the four chimes in the central unit located elsewhere within the house.


  • Use a low-voltage circuit tester for testing the wiring arrangements for doorbells, buzzers or chimes. This type of tester is readily available at most hardware stores and home centers for a very reasonable cost.
  • When problems arise, the doorbell button is usually the culprit. Always check the button first if a doorbell or chime fails to function. Metal fatigue in the spring or corrosion from the weather may cause the contact point to fail to function.
  • After checking the bell button, inspect all visible sections of the wiring for breakage or mechanical damage.
  • Use a low-voltage tester on each section of the wiring. You will probably locate a break in the wiring rather than a short.
  • The bell will continuously ring–even when the button is not pushed–if you have a short somewhere in the wire.
  • If the transformer has an overload protection device, a shortage may cause it to cut off the secondary current. So, the transformer should also be checked when problems occur.
  • To check the transformer, disconnect one wire from the transformer's secondary screw. Touch the low-voltage terminal and the disconnected wire with the low-voltage tester.
  • The bulb will light if there is a short in the wire. Be sure that the bulb you use in the low-voltage tester matches the voltage in the transformer. If you are using a lower-voltage bulb, it will burn out during testing. If you are using a bulb with a high-voltage rating, the light will simply be dim.
  • Use a low-voltage tester to test the doorbell button. Connect the button from one transformer terminal through the bulb tester and back to the other terminal. If the button is working, the bulb will light when the button is pushed.
  • If the trouble seems to be in the bell, buzzer or chime, the problem is usually in the connections at the contact point. Remove each connection wire, file it with sandpaper and replace each wire.
  • More expensive chimes have solenoids that may be very difficult to replace. In some cases, these solenoids burn out and the chimes will fail to function. You may need to return the chime to the manufacturer for repair.
  • When first installing a wireless unit, if the unit fails to operate, try plugging in the sound unit closer to the location of the pushbutton. You may just be out of the range of the small transmitter in the pushbutton.
  • With the wireless units a weak battery in the pushbutton may cause the unit not to work. Check the battery with a low-voltage tester set to DC volts. If the battery is weak, replace it.


  • Doorbell
  • Insulated Staples
  • Transformer
  • Hammer
  • Buzzer
  • Pliers
  • Doorbell Button
  • Stapler
  • Chime
  • Side-Cutter Pliers
  • Keyhole Saw
  • Low-Voltage Tester
  • Bell Wire
  • Electricians' Tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws

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Thanks Howard. Heat in my office works great!
I'll make sure to pass along your name to anyone
looking for an electrician with lots to offer at reasonable prices.
Thanks again,


I'm Happy With The Job

I called them, they showed up on time, gave me a price, and did the job the same day. They installed circuits, 200 amp electrical service, lights, and repaired broken switches / dimmers. I would recommend.

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I contacted HO for fan repair, as they are the only authorized ********** repair facility in the area. Even though this isn't the main stream of their business, they treated me very well, even offering to make delivery of the repaired fan - to a relatively remote area of the South Shore - after their business hours.

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Reasonable price with excellent service

I had two outlets that had stopped working- a simple thing but it can be difficult to get someone in, especially for a smaller job. The great thing about HO is that it's a company with a team of people behind it, so you can always get someone on the phone. I had called a few independent electricians and got calls back from them 2 days later.. I called into HO elecrtic and got someone on the phone right away who took all of my information, and booked an appointment right away. The electricians then showed up on time, and walked me through what they were doing. Price was the set price in their book. Within half on hour they were on their way.

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Top Notch Professionals!!!!

I have a Casablanca ceiling fan that wasn't working properly. I called H.O. Electric and was very thankful I did. Will (Mike) was very professional, knowledgeable, pleasant, and customer friendly. For a house call they were very reasonably priced and timely. I highly recommend their service to all. Casablanca is a top notch fan and H.O. Electric is a top notch company! I will definitely use them again.

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Great electrical company

The guys came out to my house this past monday to fix my heating system. They explained the issue and went right to work. I like how they give me the price up front. No surprises. I will definitely be using these guys again.

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I was fully satisfied with my experience with the HQ electrians.

Outstanding job.

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Great job to both your son and company on the flagpole.

Steve Savarese

Any recommendations for reliable and fair pricedelectrician? (I know there is no such thing as aninexpensive electrician.)

I've had a good experience with H.O. Services. They showed up on time anddid a neat and professional job. www.hoelectric.com (844) 435-5646


I second that recommendation. Howard just did a great job on some lightingin my husband's office. He is a really nice guy, takes the time to explain,listen, and offer opinions.

Thank You, Howard
The fan looks and works great.

- GY

Everything up front and explained in detail.

I like that they explain in detail and you know how much everything is going to be. They are very upfront. They also stated that there was a problem with some wiring that was previously done. I appreciate this, as safty is very very important. I like that they are not afraid to tell you this. I asked them also to look at a future job and they did so without any problem. They were not rushed. While they are there on a job, you are their only concern at the time. Very much apprecitated. I would recommend them to family and friends without a second thought.

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Great work!! Exactly what we were looking for.
Thanks for salvaging that old bathroom fan also. Will get the check out ASAP.

- ST, Boston

Howard, thanks for your help.

Juice did a great job.

We have a couple of other electrical jobs in mind, and we'll go to the web site when we have everything ready to go.

All the best.


Howard came the day I called and was very helpful explaining the situation and quick in fixing the problem so we could turn our fuse back on. He was also helpful with questions I had about improvements I would like in the future - pointing out the most cost-effective solutions and recommending some website to look at fixtures. I am planning to ask him to come by again soon to do more work.


Reliable, Creative, and Up-front

They always showed up exactly when they said they would and they came up with creative solutions when the existing wiring made it difficult to implement what we wanted. They charge exactly what they say they will charge, although sometimes you need to pay them to do enough work to figure out how much the total will cost.

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The cable tv works great

When I needed cable tv in my house, I called the cable co. but they said I needed an electrician. I did not know who to call but read great reviews about H.O. Electric. I gave them a try and was glad that I did. My experience was perfect. Nice guys showed up in uniform and charged me exactly what they quoted.

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Just a quick and long overdue thanks and note of appreciation for a job well done.

Your crew installed a 220v line extension from the service panel over to a new washing machine installation a few months back. Everything went smoothly, without a hitch, and on schedule. I appreciate how easy it was doing business with you. And the online PDF billing was a piece of cake, too.

Pleasure doing business. We'll certainly be back again.

Andy, Arlington

Outstanding, first-rate company.

I first started using H.O. Electric several years ago when I had to have some electrical work done. I saw their large ad in the Yellow Pages and noticed that they were a family business in the Cambridge area. Given their longevity, I thought that they must be a good company, and they were.

I have used them 3 or 4 times now for everything from installing TV's to sub pumps. They are a nice group of guys to work with and they will immediately correct any glitch without charge or dispute.

I also have recommended H.O. Electric to many other people. They are an outstanding, first-rate company.

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Very responsive, neat, and friendly

I had H.O. Electric out to my house on a saterday evening because I had lost power to part of my house. I called around to other electricians, but did not get through to any one. I found H.O. and called, and to my surprise a REAL person answered.

I explained my issue and the woman explained how they operated. She an electrician would be sent out immediatly. He arrived at my house about 45 minutes later. I was amazed at how fast he got there on a saterday night. He was very friendly, and put on some booties when he came into my house. He listened to my problem and ask me to show him around. After looking at what was not working, he showed me his price book and explained what he planned on doing to resolve my issues. I had him go ahead and do it. He was very focused and worked very quickly until he had got my power back on. I was very impressed. He walked me through what he had done and what the problem was,and I was very surprised to see what actually went into what I thought would be basically turning my lights back on. He cleaned up and took a credit card payment. From the time I called on a saterday night until the time he left was only about 2 1/2 hours. I'm very impressed, as I'm used to waiting days or even a week just to hear back from an electrician. I would definately recommend them to my neighbors.

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Great service once again!

I had some small electrical projects for the guys and once again what wonderful service. The guys came out and agian were very professional. They explained everything to me once again so I could remember how they work. I agreed once again and in the end another great job by H.O. Electric! I will continue to call H.O. Electric for all my electrical needs.

from customerlobby.com

They were very responsive in taking care of my request.

Pricing is something that yet has to be determined due to the circumstances on the first call, but there was only a $59.00 service call charge which was more than fair for the trip.

But overall, S.O.S maintenance will use them again.

Thank you

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Excellent work, but they really push the service plans.

I recently used H.O. Electric for the first time. They replaced the exhaust fan in my attic, as well as installed a screen, which is something they normally don't do. The workers did very well addressing my concerns, and were helpful. It went quickly, too. The work itself was totally fine.

There were a few negatives in the peripherals, however. All the promotional stuff--get these savings if you sign up for this plan--took away from the experience. They try to sell you on certain plans and tell you what the work will cost with each, and I thought if should be just one price for the thing. Though the work was great, I have to detract points for this part of the experience.

Jerry Brown

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H.O. does electrical,plumbing and heating.Would recommend to everybody

H.O. came out tuned up my generator,they did a great job. H.O. does Electrical, plumbing and heating. They are the company to service all your needs.

from customerlobby.com

Fantastic company!

We were very impressed with the presentation H.O. Electric gave. They were extremely professional and efficient. Everything went great with them and I'd definitely use them again.

from customerlobby.com

H.O. replaced my panel and upgraded it to a 200 amp service. Since we live in a 213 year old house he also did some wiring of old nob a tube in the attic.

I had heard about H O from my next door neighbor had Howard do his electrical panel and was happy with his work. Howard was very professional and took the time to explain what he was doing. After taking the time to do a house inspection he showed me the old knob and tube in the attic, and recommended that it be replaced.

Howard cleaned up after the job and reviewed all the work with me that they had completed. I was quite impressed with Howard and his staff. I have recommended him to others.



We wanted to thank you for the great job you and your crew did on our living room lighting project. You responded quickly, gave us excellent design advice, provided an estimate the same day, and then worked with us to make the timing fit our needs. We could not believe how you were able to fit us so promptly into your busy schedule. The quality of the work was great and your crew, led by Juice, was professional, courteous, and highly skilled. We would happily recommend you to anyone.

Many thanks,

David and Miriam

Thanks Howard -

You guys were impressive. That was like a swat team - in / out / job finished.

As I told you, it was a little more of a job than I was initially prepared for; I appreciate your patience with my situation - and thanks for not wasting my resources on a band aid, but instead bringing us a step forward toward our kitchen rehab.

Impressive billing system too!


Comments: They are excellent. Very thorough. Howard does a great job explaining everything from start to finish. He's prompt as well. I was thrilled with the experience.

- Ed

Based on list recommendations, I called Howard Oven and he was here in 2 days, fixed one overhead light, replaced a wall fixture with a much more appropriate light (and beautiful to boot!), plus fixed the basement overhead and a wall outlet. All in about four hours! They were careful with our indoor cat, very clean and very easy to have around while they were working. Plus, when Howard went out for a part and the store did not have it like they said they did when he called ahead, he called me to let me know what the delay was and when I could expect him back.

We will definitely be using H.O.Electric for our electrical needs in future. Their web site is http://hoelectric.com


Awesome Job!

I needed help with my kitchen lights. These guys came out and provided me with options. They provide great service so I understand if they are a little more expensive than others. Its worth the time and money. I highly recommend them and I will be using them again!

from customerlobby.com

Excellent services, details of job explained clearly up front. Would recommend using this companny.

Lighting problem was quickly resolved, All of my questions were answered and options were presented to me. A very professional company. Highly recommend to others.

from customerlobby.com

Very knowledgeable and professional.

I was very pleased with the work done at my house. I would deffinetly call them again for electrical or plumbing work.

from customerlobby.com

Got their number off their trucks. Wow. Lightning bolts. neat, professional, and courteous people. Arrived inside scheduled window. Answered all my questions and offered info about problem and solutions. got a choice of level of service and they did the work right then. Paid with a cc and they swiped it and emailed my receipt right there. Going to get more info from them soon.

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