A doorbell is a signaling device commonly found near a door. It commonly emits a ringing sound to alert the occupant of the building to a visitor's presence. It was invented by
Joseph Henry in 1831
How doorbells work
In most wired systems, a button, located around the height of the doorknob, activates a signaling device (usually a chime
, or buzzer
) inside the building. This single-pole, single-throw (SPST) switch
momentarily closes the doorbell circuit. One terminal
of this button is wired to a terminal on a transformer
. A doorbell transformer steps down the 120–240-volt AC
electrical power to a lower voltage
, typically 10–20 volts. The transformer's other terminal connects to one of three terminals on the signaling device. Another terminal is connected to a wire that travels to the other terminal on the button. If there is another button (typically near a back door), it is connected between the transformer and the third terminal on the signaling device. Unfortunately, the transformer, being energized constantly, consumes a small amount (about 1 to 2 W) of standby power
Most signaling devices consist of two solenoids and two flat bars. The flat bars are tuned to two pleasing notes. The flat bars are mounted loosely above and below the solenoids. When the doorbell button is pressed, the first solenoid's plunger strikes the bottom bar. When the button is released, a spring on the plunger pushes the plunger up, causing it to strike the other bar. If the other bell is used, it will activate the other solenoid, which will strike only one bar — typically the bottom bar.
More elaborate signaling devices play a short musical tune, such as Westminster Quarters.
The deaf use visual signaling devices — typically light bulbs — rather than audible signaling devices.
A button near the door activates a built-in transmitter
. The transmitter sends a radio
signal to the doorbell radio receiver inside the building. When the radio signal is detected by the receiver
, it activates a buzzer, speaker, lights, bells or horn.