How to Install a Doorbell (Wireless or Wired)

changing-doorbell-batteries

There are many reasons to replace a doorbell button. First, if it’s broken, replacing it is usually easier than fixing a doorbell button. Other times, though, you might just think it’s time for a more decorative doorbell button. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want a kitschy cool pineapple doorbell button? – It’s all too beautiful!

On the other hand, if you’re considering a wireless doorbell for your home or business location, you’ll be happy to know that learning how to install a doorbell is very simple…especially wireless doorbell installation. In fact, compared to setting up a hard-wired system, installing a wireless doorbell is a breeze. With a wireless doorbell system, you won’t need any electrical knowledge or wires (of course) nor will you need a transformer. However, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you speed through the job and make sure your wireless doorbell operates just the way you want it to.

Wireless Doorbell Instructions for Installation

Learning how to install a wireless door chime unit is fairly easy, but it is important to first do some planning: choose the location for the receiver. The receiver is the indoor part of the wireless system, sort of like a speaker, that will chime to alert you that someone is pressing the doorbell at your front door, back door or any door on your property. You want to make sure of 3 things:

  1. That the receiver is within range of the transmitter(s), which is/are the doorbell button(s). You may have multiple doorbell transmitters, one at each of your home’s various entrances, and you need to make sure a receiver (wherever you’re planning to put it inside) is well within the stated range of your particular wireless doorbell model.
  2. That the receiver is within hearing distance: Make sure you can hear the doorbell from wherever you are in the home or even outside in the back yard (or in the stock room or storeroom is you’re setting up in your business.) Estimate if this fits the system you’re thinking about. You may want to purchase extenders to ensure you can hear from anywhere in the house.
  3. Get extenders if necessary to increase doorbell signal range: If you have a big home (or office or factory), you may want to get a doorbell extender: to give your wireless doorbell a longer signal range. An extra transmitter will “forward” the signal from a spot near the door to a receiver further way. This way you can cover your whole premises and/or you can even purchase a wireless doorbell with portable receiver to take with you when you work in the back yard garden or garage.

changing-doorbell-batteriesHow to Install Wireless Doorbell Buttons

  • Insert battery: Wireless doorbell buttons from 1800Doorbell.com usually come with long-life batteries already installed. Doorbell buttons typically require small round lithium batteries.
  • Look for any location markings, in either numbers or words for the “Front” door and the “Rear” or “Back” entrance door on the buttons.
  • Choose a spot for installation where the doorbell button is visible and within easy reach, typically at about 4 feet above the floor. This is the maximum practical button height for wheelchair access, so you could opt to go a bit lower.
  • Adapt to your surface: Wood, vinyl, aluminum doors and doorsills are all acceptable surfaces to attach a doorbell button. For metal doors or doorframes, however, you may need to place a wooden shim behind the doorbell button to prevent signal interference from the metal. For masonry or brick installation, you may need a plastic shield before under the button, between it and the masonry, for a secure hold when screwing in.
  • Attach with adhesive strip or screws: Wireless doorbell buttons are often mounted using the adhesive strip on the back of the button assembly. You can usually also mount the wireless doorbell button with two screws.

Installing Wireless Doorbell Receivers

The receiver is the part of the wireless doorbell system that will receive the radio waves emitted by the transmitter (button) when a visitor presses it. Then it will play the appropriate doorbell chime or sound so that you’re alerted. As you read through the installation instructions for your wireless doorbell, remember to follow the manufacturer instructions if they differ. In general, most wireless doorbell receivers are installed in this manner:

  • First insert any batteries required by your wireless doorbell receiver. BATTERIES: Often 3 AA batteries are needed for the doorbell receiver unit and may only need to be replaced every year or two.
  • Sync with transmitter button. Press the chime control button and select chime module. Go to push button/transmitter outdoors and press the button. This action synchronizes both the outdoor doorbell push button and the indoor chime unit. You can pair multiple push buttons to the same door chime receiver unit.
  • Select your sound choice for the front door and one for the back door, if applicable. This lets you know which door to answer. The receiver inside the home often also often has a small visual icon that lights up to tell you which door is being activated.  This varies by product and manufacturer.  We have an entire article about this topic you can see here: “Changing to Tune on Your Wireless Door Chime”
  • Set volume.
  • Plug receiver into an electrical wall outlet, if necessary, although some run on battery power. Plug in doorbell receivers are extremely convenient to install.
    OR
    Insert batteries:
    Battery powered units have more options for installation placement and can be placed higher on the wall than your typical plug in model, for example. Some come with a mounting bracket or holder that your screw into the wall. Then you can take your receiver unit out when you want to change the chime sounds/volume or to replace batteries (which should only be needed every year or two).
  • Test to be sure the signal reaches from the front (and back) doorbell buttons to the receiver. Take the receiver to the spot where you plan to plug it in or mount it to the wall inside your house for an accurate test. If the sound does not come through when the button is pressed, you need to move the receiver to an outlet closer to the door. Or you might instead try removing any large furniture or other item that may be interfering with the signal. You may want to use a second receiver to extend the doorbell sound and signal further into the home.
  • If the doorbell is mistakenly activated by a nearby remote control, change the doorbell to another channel or frequency. Most doorbells offer several channels for this purpose.

Wireless Doorbell Advanced Features

Now that you have an idea of how to install a wireless doorbell, you can browse the different types available and make a selection. To choose the best wireless doorbell for your home or business, think about what advanced features you might want, including:

  • Multiple tunes or melodies so you can change at will.
  • Decorative wireless doorbell receivers and stylish doorbell buttons so that your doorbell can compliment your decor.
  • Long range transmission of up to 1000 feet.
  • Visual alarm can alert you to the doorbell in a loud environment or provide a visual doorbell alert for hearing impaired persons.
  • Additional security and convenience features like:
    • Extra push buttons (also called switches or transmitters) – one for each entrance.
    • Extenders, extra doorbell receivers to forward the signal further into and throughout the home.
    • Portable receiver: that you take with you when you’re going to the back yard or elsewhere.
    • Event log that tells you when the doorbell rang, and where, if you missed anything. It would also record the time and location if a motion detector went off, if your system is so equipped.
    • Cameras
    • Intercom(s) for voice communication, such as a wireless portable intercom with video
    • Motion sensor to sense someone before they push (or so that they have no need to push) the doorbell button. BATTERIES: Motion sensors often use a rectangular 9 volt battery.
    • Window sensors to notify you of a window break in.
  • And more options.

A man in his backyard enjoying the benefits of an wireless doorbell chimeWays to Use Versatile Wireless Doorbells

Wireless systems are flexible and portable, meaning you could use your wireless doorbell system in other places and for other purposes, including:

  • Portable system: Take the button, motion sensors and receivers out of your home and use in your business or even take with you to a vacation rental.
  • Call system: You could even use your “doorbell” as a call system, giving the button unit to, for instance, a sick child or elderly relative to use when they need to call for assistance when you’re in another part of the house.
  • Pets or Kids: Use a motion detector to sense when someone enters or leaves a room.
  • Garage: You could also use the motion detector to alert you if someone enters your garage, for instance, if you leave the door open after driving your car into the garage.
  • Driveway: You might also place a motion detector at the end of a long driveway, to let you know that someone is driving up to the house. There are also purpose-built driveway alarms that use a hose or a ground probe to trigger the alarm/chime when cars drive over it or pass by it.

The good news is that most of the time replacing a button is an easy thing to do.

How to Install a Doorbell Button: Wired Doorbells

An ornate metal doorbell button

First, choose a replacement wired doorbell button. If you want a different style of doorbell button, make sure the replacement is going to fit. Be prepared, for example, to at least add a little paint around a new rectangular doorbell button if you’re replacing a round doorbell button. Other times, the space might have been specifically designed for the doorbell and it might require more of an intervention than you want to make a replacement.

Note: if you have an older unit, test the voltage across the button before selecting a replacement. All doorbells have a transformer that reduces the voltage from the house line voltage (120 volts (V) and normally 15 amps) to something much less, which makes it safe to touch the wires that lead to the doorbell button, but not other wires in the house or the doorbell. However, current doorbells use a smaller voltage (16 V or 12 V) than earlier doorbells, which used a higher voltage (36 V or 24 V). When a doorbell button rated for a lower voltage is installed in a doorbell that uses a higher voltage, the doorbell can get hot, especially if the doorbell button has a light in it.

Next, remove the old doorbell from the wall by unscrewing it. If you haven’t previously removed it for testing, you might have to cut away caulk or paint. Now, unscrew the wires. As we mentioned above, you don’t have to turn the power off for this because the voltage is very low, but if it makes you feel safer, there’s no harm in turning the power off. If the wires feel like they want to slip back into the house, a clothespin or other large clip can be used to hold them outside the wall so they don’t go in – fishing them back out can be nearly impossible.

Now screw the wires onto the new doorbell. It doesn’t matter which wire goes where. So long as both have good connections the bell should work fine. Twist the wire around the screw in a clockwise arc so that the wire has more connection and the action of the screw pulls the wire in, rather than pushes it out.

If the doorbell has a light on it, this should be lit up when you connect the wires. Test the button before you put it back on the wall. If it doesn’t work, check the connections on the wires. If these seem fine, disconnect one and touch it to the other to make sure you get a tone. If you don’t, it’s likely you forgot to turn the power back on before trying your test.

If the doorbell is working, put caulk around the back of the doorbell before securing it in place. This will keep air and bugs from using your doorbell as an entry and exit. Once the caulk is dried, you can touch up the paint around the doorbell as necessary.

How to Install a Doorbell Button: Wireless Doorbell

A surface-mounted doorbell button

Once you have selected your new wireless doorbell button, you must make sure it is coded properly before it will work for your receiver.

Open up the button and look for a series of metal pins in two rows. Normally, they will have some black plastic blocks on them, but sometimes these aren’t in place on a new wireless doorbell button. Now open up the compartment on your receiver. You should see a similar arrangement of pins with black plastic blocks on them. Place the blocks on your new doorbell button so they match the blocks on your receiver. Then replace the receiver in the socket (if necessary) and push the button. If the button doesn’t work, it’s possible you had the two units misaligned when trying to match them up – it can be hard to tell which way to hold them – so try a mirror image on the new button. If it still doesn’t work, maybe the factory-installed battery isn’t working. Try a new battery. If it still isn’t working, the wireless doorbell button may be defective.

For Carlon door chimes, we have a complete article devoted to “changing the door chime privacy codes.”

Attaching a Wireless Doorbell Button

If you are setting up a new wireless doorbell, attaching the wireless doorbell button to the wall can be a bit of a challenge. For many surfaces, such as wood, you can just put screws through the holes provided in the backing of the doorbell button. If you’re lucky, the screw holes on the back of the wireless doorbell button might even match those from an old wired doorbell button. Other times, you may have to put a block of wood in to allow you to screw the new doorbell where the old one was.

For many smooth surfaces, such as wood, aluminum, or vinyl siding, two-sided tape works well. Often this comes with the wireless doorbell button, but other times you may have to buy it separately.

Other surfaces can be a bit more challenging to attach the button to, such as stucco or brick. If the brick is relatively smooth (especially if it’s painted) you should try two-sided tape, but if it’s rough or has grooves in it, it’s probably not worth the effort.

One good solution in this case is poster putty, such as you might have used in your college dorm room or a rental property where you weren’t allowed to put holes in the wall. Some brands are better than others, but if you try a few, you’ll find one that really grips the rough surface and can hold your wireless doorbell button up quite well.

If you want a really secure hold for your wireless doorbell on these surfaces or if you don’t want to bother with the trial-and-error of poster putty, you can secure the doorbell with screws. Masonry screws are normally too large for the holes on the back of a wireless doorbell button, so you have to drill holes and place anchors. This is a bit more work, but on the plus side you won’t have to worry about your doorbell falling down every once in a while as tends to happen with double-sided tape or poster putty.

A Doorbell for All Seasons

Once you figure out how easy it can be to replace your doorbell button, you might decide that just one doorbell button is not enough. You could have different doorbells for different seasons, or maybe just one that you pull out for that special holiday party.

Okay, so most people aren’t that obsessed with their doorbells, but we’re just saying – if you are, it’s not that hard of a thing to do. Certainly easier than a new haircut – and if you decide you really don’t like it, you don’t have to wait for it grow back!

If you’d like assistance in choosing the best doorbell for your needs, call on 1800Doorbell. If you need wireless doorbell installation support, contact us at 1800Doorbell.com. The doorbell experts on our customer service line are happy to help.

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