How to Wire a Doorbell

Whether you're an avid do-it-yourselfer or simply want to change how it sounds when a guest is at your front or rear door, knowing how to wire a doorbell will come in handy. If you're tired of your current chime, want to create a different chime from backdoor to front door, or simply need to fix a burned out bell due, these steps will help you get this chore off the honey-do list.


Deciding Where to Hang Doorbell Receivers and Buttons Inside and Outside the Home 

If you've remodeled your home or if you've noticed your bell isn't entirely noticeable from all areas of the house, you may want to consider wiring the chime box (doorbell receiver) to a different area from the existing box. Likewise, if you're reworking or installing a new chime for the backdoor of your home or office, having the chime sound from a different place than the front door’s chime can be helpful, too. Choose a new home for the doorbell button unless you already have one and feel that the existing spot suits you and your guests. If you happen to be applying the doorbell button for the first time in a new home, follow two simple rules: make it visible, make it easily reachable for any guest of any size.


Learning How to Wire a Doorbell: Mounting Doorbell Receivers and Buttons 

 By and large, you should be able to quickly and easily use the instructions on the doorbell receiver and button packaging, but a few helpful hints never hurt.

  • Just as you want the doorbell button and receiver to be easy to spot visually, you also want them to be well within reach so guests can tap the doorbell and so you can reach the receiver without too much fuss as needed. 
  • Use an electric power drill to make holes where screws will go. For a long lasting installation that won't begin to hang out of the wall in short order, install drywall sleeves (screw anchors)—this will create a snug and long-lasting application.


Best Laid Plans for Wiring a Doorbell: Know Where the Power Source is Before Installation

Because it's common for doorbell power sources to be located up in the ceiling or even the attic or crawlspace, knowing exactly where it is will allow you to wire your doorbell expediently. Additionally, if the receiver needs repairs later, you'll know exactly where to look.

If you don't yet have a transformer (the doorbell power source) set up, choose an area in the attic or elsewhere up high that’s safe to work. If you want two doorbell sounds (one for the front of house and one for the back patio, for example) you'll need two transformers to be safe—you'll probably want to set them up in two different places as discussed earlier. Transformers need to be connected to a source of power that's up and running at 120 volts.

If you've found a transformer and you're unsure of the voltage, buy a voltmeter from your local hardware store and do a reading. Voltmeters are very handy and can help you later to determine if there’s an outage in your transformer, receiver, or elsewhere. Once testing is complete and reveals a satisfactory 120-volt reading, you can move to the next step of learning how to wire a doorbell.


How to Wire a Doorbell: First Electrical Wiring Steps

To ensure your safety, before messing around with the transformer or any other electrical components, TURN THE POWER OFF. This critical step doesn't have to be a big to-do—you can locate the breaker that powers the transformer you're working on and switch it to the "OFF" position—this way, others in the house can still use the kitchen, lights, etc.

You'll know power to the transformer is off when you can connect the wires to the voltmeter and there's no reading. With the plastic cover removed from the transformer and electrical doorbell chime box, connect the green, white, and black wires from the transformer to the corresponding wires on the doorbell chime box. Once these three wires are twisted together, secure the twists with electrical wire nuts before moving on to Second and Third Wiring Steps listed below.


How to Wire a Doorbell: Second and Third Electrical Wiring Steps

Step two of the electrical wiring process involves the two-stranded and three-stranded wires that came in the packaging with any complete doorbell receiver and button kit. If you purchase the different pieces of a doorbell a la carte, be sure to buy a length of two-stranded and three-stranded wire, as your bell will not sound without these. 

Begin with the two-stranded wire: you will wire this so that it goes from the transformer down to the doorbell button on your home's exterior. There should be an area where the current two-strand wire travels, but if not, you can feed it down the wall and pull it out of the correct opening behind the doorbell. Simply attach the (DISCONNECTED) end of two-stranded wire to a draw wire, which makes it easy and safe to pull on from either side.

Next, run the three-stranded wire from the transformer to the chime box. This will be a much shorter distance than the two-stranded wire, and in most cases, it can be done from the same location in the attic or very nearby using a ladder. Again, if you're unable to feed the wires through any walls using just your hands, the draw tape can help you here as well.

Once all two-stranded and three-stranded wires have been run through walls and into the attic (or another reasonable location) you can set them aside for now until the final mounting of both the chime and doorbell casing is complete.


Mounting Chime Box and Doorbell Button BEFORE Linking Wires or Turning Power Back On

Ensuring that everything is reachable and at a good eye-level for all by using a hands-free level, you're ready to mark holes where you'll drill in hardware. Beginning with the doorbell button, with the hands-free level in place, mark your holes with a pencil. Next, use an electric power drill with either the Phillip's head or flat head bit on (depending on your hardware) to drill in the screws that came in your doorbell kit. If you plan on using screw anchors, install these into the wall before applying your screws. Repeat the same process on the chime box and you’re ready to move on!


Final Connections: Back to the Two- and Three-Stranded Wires

You’re now ready for your final electrical wiring steps. Beginning with the three-stranded wire, connect the transformer to chime box. Next, connect transformer to doorbell button with the two-stranded wire. Follow instructions for both steps, which should be completed in this order (transformer to chime box, THEN transformer to doorbell button) using product packaging, as wire colors and color meanings vary from one make and model to the next. All in all, wiring both shouldn’t take more than 20–30 minutes or less. 

Now you know how to wire a doorbell and all the steps in between so you can find problems and fix them using your trusty voltmeter and newfound knowledge!