Since 1800doorbell.com started back in 1998, we continue to get a common question, "How Can I Make my Old Doorbell Louder?" This is a great question
How Wired Doorbells Work
Most wired doorbells create sound when an internal hammer strikes a small metal plate inside the wired doorbell chime mechanics. When the outside wired push button is pressed, it caused the hammer to strike the metal plate. Most wired doorbells have two hammers and two metal plates. When the doorbell is triggered, the first hammer strikes a plate creating the "ding" sound and a second hammer strikes a second plate to create the "dong" sound. Together, this creates the standard "ding-dong" sound when a typically wired doorbell is activated. If you have a second push button connected (usually on a back or side door), only one of the hammers strikes a plate to create the one-tone, "ding" sound.
Wired Doorbells Aren't Very Loud
Noting the paragraph above (make and old doorbell louder), the sound is created from a very simple process; a small hammer striking a metal plate inside the doorbell mechanism. It's not hard to understand why the common wired doorbell isn't very loud. Most wired doorbells will create a sound in the range of 75-85 dBA. It's usually loud enough to hear in the basic areas of your home, but if you're down in the basement or your bedroom watching television, they just aren't loud enough to hear.
Because of the way wired doorbells are made, there's not a lot you can do to increase the sound from the wired doorbell itself. Some manufacturers can play with the style of the doorbell in an attempt to create resonance chambers that "echo" the sound a little more, but that might only increase the sound by a few decibels. We go back to the original question posed in this article, how to make a wired doorbell in my home louder.
There is an easy solution and that's called a "doorbell extender." These are easy-to-install wireless products that allow you to hear your wired doorbell throughout your home or office. These products offer the benefit of getting to keep the pretty push-button outside to great visitors and the attractive doorbell in your foyer while making the system easier to hear throughout your home.
What is a Wired Doorbell Extender
"Wired doorbell extenders" work alongside your traditional wired doorbell. When the wired doorbell in your home is triggered, the doorbell extender will transmit a radio signal to a compatible receiver. This compatible receiver is either a plugin or battery-operated wireless door chime receiver that will play a melody or tune when triggered by the transmitter. Virtually all wired doorbell extenders consist of two components, the transmitter, and the receiver.
There are two different flavors of transmitters. One version of the transmitter features a small microphone that essentially listens for a doorbell sound. When this sound is detected, it triggers the unit to send the radio signal to the receiver, which then plays the chime sound. The transmitter is typically mounted near the wired doorbell (usually in the foyer of your home) with the small microphone being close enough to hear the doorbell sound.
The major drawback of this type of system is the occasional false alarm produced when the unit "thinks" it hears a doorbell sound. A doorbell sound on the television, music, or even a random noise it interprets as a doorbell sound could trigger the unit to send the radio signal.
The second type, and the type we carry here at 1800doorbell.com, wires into the existing wired doorbell in your home. The same electrical signal the triggers the wired doorbell hammer to strike the metal plate also triggers the transmitter to send a radio signal. This system tends to be much reliable as it only triggers when the doorbell itself it triggered.
How Basic Wired Doorbells Are Wired In Your Home
To understand the wiring on these products, let's break down a few wired doorbell terms. First is the wired doorbell push button. This is the button people will see mounted next to the front door of your home. They may be lighted or non-lighted, and all the doorbell extenders we feature on 1800doorbell.com work with 2-wired doorbell push buttons (one for front door and one for second door, for example.)
Next is the wired doorbell. This is the unit that produces the actual chime sound and are typically handing in the foyer of your home or in a hallway. A standard wired doorbell that plays the ding-dong sound work well with the doorbell extenders we feature on this site. Intercom based doorbell systems and most video doorbells tend not to work well with a wired doorbell extender.
The third, and final major piece, is the wired doorbell transformer. This is a small device that wires into the 120 voltage of your home, and converts the power into a lower voltage the wired doorbell can handle, usually between 12V-16V. The electrician who installed the doorbell system in your home may have installed the doorbell transformer in garage, in the attic, or even in the wall behind the wired doorbell.
Wired doorbell systems in your home work in a loop and when the power supply is interrupted, the disruption causes the hammer in the doorbell to trigger. When lifting the cover off your wired doorbell you will see three terminal screws. These screws are typically labeled something like "front," "second" and "terminal" (they may be labeled differently.) One of the screws is for the front doorbell push button wire, another is for a second door push button wire, and the third is from the wired doorbell transformer. The front doorbell push button will have two wires; one wires into the "front" screw on the wired doorbell, and the other connects to a wire from the wired doorbell transformer. On the doorbell transformer, one wire will connect to the "terminal" screw on the wired doorbell and the other wire will connect to the "font" wire coming off the second wired doorbell push button.
How to Wire a Doorbell Extender
As mentioned earlier in this article, a doorbell extender kit consists of two main components; a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is a small device with three wires coming out of it. One of the wires connects to the "font" screw on the wired doorbell, another connects to the "back," or "second" screw on the wired doorbell, and the third connects to the "terminal" screw on the wired doorbell.
The transmitter comes with a high-powered lithium battery that should last 2-4 years before replacement. This battery is used to power the transmitter to send a radio signal to the compatible receiver when triggered. Once wired into the wired doorbell, the transmitter is may be mounted on top of the doorbell cabinet, besides it, or if there's enough room, hidden inside the cabinet.
When a visitor pushed the doorbell button outside, the increase in amperage running through the circuit will cause your wired doorbell to chime as usual, and at the same time, trigger the transmitter to send a wireless signal to the receiver.
Ways to Increase the Sound of a Doorbell Extender
The benefit of using wireless systems in your home is that the receivers tend to have more features than the old doorbell that might be installed in your home. For example, models on 1800doorbell feature volume control, strobe light, and the choice of different sound options. In addition to this, the two models we carry have a range of 1,000 ft. (LRA-EXTX) and 4,000 ft. (ERA-EXTX) to guarantee the product has the power needed to traverse long distances and through the building materials found in your home. Another benefit is that you can add additional receivers throughout your home.
For example, you could place a plugin receiver in the kitchen, the garage, the basement, and the upstairs bedroom to ensure you don't miss a visitor to your home. As long as the receiver is within range, the unit will trigger when a visitor pushes the push button outside your home.
Another important aspect is the fact that you can mix and match receiver types, along with different transmitters and sensors to augment your system as long as they are in the same model line. For example, if you were to purchase the ERA-EXKIT, you can add desktop receivers, motion sensors, wireless push buttons and, driveway monitors, as well as more plugin receivers to grow your system.
Choosing the Right Doorbell Extender System
There are two different model lines, or series of doorbell extenders featured on 1800doorbell. For the most part, the systems are very similar and comes down to the wireless range of the system.
LRA-EX1000S and LRA-EX1000 Wireless Doorbell Extenders
The wireless range of both of these kits (from the transmitter to the receiver) is up to 1,000 ft. Keep in mind, that whenever we mention a wireless range, this is always the distance measured in a laboratory. This line of sight is measured with zero interference and although all real world usage of the product will have interference, this product is ideal for smaller and mid-sized homes. Since the extender is located inside the home, the 1,000 ft. range should work for most homes of this size. The difference between the ERA-EX1000S and the ERA-EX1000 is the receiver type, plugin and desktop respectively.
If you have a larger home or office or want to put a receiver in a basement or detached garage, you may want to use the ERA series of products.
ERA-EXKIT Wireless Door Chime Extender
The ERA series of products by Safeguard Supply was created to cater to the commercial industry. Commercial locations tend to have larger distances to traverse and thicker building materials such as brick, concrete, and even steel rebar, and the 4,000 ft. wireless range of this series makes it ideal. If you are every thinking of adding additional sensor types, like an outdoor driveway monitor, and you have a larger yard, you may also want to go with this product line.