The doorbell serves the important function of informing everyone at home about the guest standing at the door. The mechanical doorbell is a tiny device hidden somewhere on the exterior walls of the home, but the almighty sound it lets out can engulf the whole home and the garden.
Most of the time, however, we never think to investigate the inner workings of this essential device. That’s probably because we use the doorbell every day and it’s mostly out of our sight. Or it has something to do with the fact that a doorbell is one of those necessities of the household that we never think about until they break down.
If you have never stopped to ask yourself whether a doorbell has speakers then you’ve probably bumped into a similar question in a web forum. I saw a member in a forum asking whether doorbells have speakers and I went like: “oh you’re right…where are the speakers?” I had never thought about it before. After turning rocks upside down, my research yielded some interesting findings:
Where are the speakers for doorbells?
First off, the assumption you might make when asked about the “speaker” of a doorbell would be about the source of the sound produced when a person presses the push button. These sounds are referred to as chimes.
The name, therefore, gives you a tip about what we are dealing with – a chiming electronic, not a loudspeaker. Pioneer doorbells were never sophisticated, a simple chime is all was needed to alert the home about the visitor.
The technology that made the loudspeaker was nonexistent back then. So, it was standard for doorbells to be equipped with a bell-like disk, a mechanical setup that responds to a magnetic assembly and electric signal to produce a prolonged ringing sound very much like a bell.
In fact, some early doorbells simply utilized the traditional bell linked to a switch by a string.
Therefore, there are no loudspeakers in doorbells. The sound you hear is produced by a tiny transmitter that uses an electromagnetic field to trigger the area of your brain that’s sensitive to sound.
Is that why the chimes are so powerful that they cover the whole home? or so you may ask. Yes, that’s why. And if you took your time to investigate the outdoor walls of the home, somewhere in the garage perhaps, you might have spotted a box installed high up on the wall.
All the sound you hear comes from that little box. Inside are two steel bars or “gongs” and a bell-like disc that works together with a solenoid to produce the familiar “ding dong” sound we associate with doorbells.
How a doorbell is able to work without a speaker
Just so you understand the inner workings of the doorbell, and why it lacks loudspeakers, we will break the device apart to reveal the components before explaining the working mechanism:
Components of a mechanical doorbell
1) Push-button: often located beside the main entry door, it’s what sets off the doorbell
2) Chime: it’s the part that rings when the pushbutton is pressed
3) Terminals: they are located at the central hub of the chime
4) Resonators: two metal bars below and above the terminals of the doorbell. These bars are tuned to the doorbell’s ring notes and will produce those notes when struck
5) Solenoids: a type of electromagnetic assembly in the form of coiled wire and a copper coil. It creates a magnetic field when an electric current is passed in it
6) Transformer: it connects the doorbell to your home’s electrical grid. Because doorbells require a tiny amount of electricity to operate, the job of the transformer here is what it’s known for – to reduce the amount of electricity entering the device
7) Terminals: are located at the central hub of the doorbell’s chime. The wires of the transformer and the push-button connect to the chime at the terminals
How a mechanical doorbell works
Much of the action that results in that “ding dong” sound happens in and around the solenoid. When you press the push button at the door or gate, the circuit is completed and an electrical current flows into the solenoid.
The electromagnetic assembly (which constitutes the solenoid) is connected to a hammer-like metal bar at one end.
When the electrical current reaches the electromagnetic assembly, a magnetic field is created and causes the hammer-like bar to hit the bell to produce the “ding dong” sound. The gong (hammer) will keep hitting the bell to produce a prolonged chime
if you keep the touch button pressed. Withdrawing your finger from the push button breaks the circuits, deactivates the magnetic field, and turns off the bell.
Many homes come equipped with electronic doorbells. These doorbells are very different from their mechanical counterparts. Firstly, they lack the electromagnetic assembly that forms the backbone of the mechanical doorbell. They also lack the tone bars and the hammer.
They are a bit sophisticated with IoT (internet of things) features, ability to play several different tunes, automatic sensors, and other smart features.
The Skybell and Nest Labs products, for example, can say “Hello” to the guest on pressing the button and may keep you engaged until the homeowner comes to open the door. Some of them come with security cameras – this 2-in-1 design eliminates the need for additional security installations.
Electronic doorbells come without speakers just like their mechanical counterparts. Each unit is equipped with a circuit board and pre recorded tunes that can be changed as per your preferences.
How to boost the sound of a mechanical doorbell
Mechanical doorbells are still the most popular choice among homeowners probably because of their simplicity and antique value. The chimes of a mechanical doorbell are often loud enough to be heard by a person as far off as in the garden. However, there are times when the powerful chimes begin to lose the intensity, that’s when you should think of magnifying the sound by attempting these simple corrective updates:
Replace the transformer
An older transformer may fail to step down the power sometimes resulting in total device failure. That could mean you are missing some important alerts.
Add a wireless extender
Traditional doorbells often come with long wires that are installed to connect the push button at the gate or door and the main unit located in the garage or anywhere on the exterior walls. After many years of services, however, these wires tend to develop problems at the connection points.
If you did some major repair on your home and then realized your doorbell had become faint or lost the sound entirely, there is a likelihood you damaged the wiring.
The best way of avoiding wiring-related malfunctions and failure is to install a wireless extender.
This device lets you keep the original doorbell minus the wires. Basically, it creates a wireless connection between the touch button at the door and the main unit wherever it is located in your home.
The best part is that some extenders, depending on the manufacturer, may play melodies in some parts of your home as per your preferences which is a major upgrade from boring “ding dong.” Extenders can increase the listening range of the doorbell. They also tend to be just as durable as the main unit.
Replace the entire unit with a wireless option
You can decide to remove the whole unit if it has aged and doesn’t bring out the best as it used to at the beginning.
There are a lot of wireless doorbell options in the market today that you might have trouble choosing the right option for your needs. Ring® Video Wireless Doorbell allows you to adjust the volume and goes a long way to keep thieves at bay with its HD camera that can be linked to your smartphone or computer.
The AVANTEK® Wireless Doorbell gives you over 50 ring options and comes with an adjustable volume ranging between 0 and 115 dB.
Virtually all wireless doorbells on the market today permit volume adjustment which is their biggest advantage to the traditional hammer-and-bell doorbell.
While wireless alternatives are versatile and don’t require the homeowner to make changes (such as drilling a wall) on the home, they aren’t as long-lasting as their mechanical counterparts.
They are also battery-powered, meaning you have to keep worrying about battery replacement once and then.
When it comes to sound, however, wireless doorbells produce superb sound in a long range of decibels. They even allow the user to set an array of tunes some of them specifically dedicated to the backdoor and backdoor.
It is easy to wonder whether doorbells come with speakers, but that’s only because we hear them every day but have never tried to investigate the whole unit more closely. Mechanical doorbells are equipped with a chime unit consisting of a bell-like metal disk and a hammer linked to an electromagnetic unit. When an electric current is passed through the electromagnetic unit, the solenoid pulls the hammer-like metal bar and causes it to hit the metal disk hence the “ding dong” sound.