Wired doorbells have a transformer which is always on and always using
electricity. This is yet one more thing in the house which does this like
TV, microwave, remote control things, things with clocks, plug-in phones,
These things add up...
I replaced/rewired my switch so the transformer is only on when the doorbell
button is pressed! Thus the transformer is off most of the time now.
I installed a regular electrical box at my front door, ran 14 ga. romex from
this box to the doorbell transformer, then got a nice brass blank wall
plate, drilled a hole in this plate, then installed a 120V momentary push
switch in the plate. Then wired this to switch on the transformer when the
button is pressed. Then connected the two wires which were going to the old
button so the doorbell would ring as soon as it receives power from the
This whole thread is about chasing the "little yellow hole in the snow."
When the bell is not ringing, the current that is measured is largely
reactive or imaginary current. It is the current determined by the
transformer's magnetizing inductance. The only dissipation is some
small core heating and trivial wire losses. The true dissipation is far
less than what most are calculating by multiplying measured volts and
Worry about something important...like preserving the US Constitution.
Congratulations, you've just saved yourself 25 cents a year in
Not to mention it might not be safe if someone is standing on wet
pavement and they gey shocked by 120V.
You probably spent more in the material than if you let the Xfmr stay
on for 20 years.
Now how are you going to deal with the TV, fridge, phone, alarm clock,
microwave. Wait don't forget VCR/DVD player, cable box, heating
system, computer, sprinkler timer,
$15 at 25c/year means you'll recover your costs in 60 years. But the
batteries cost, oh, $1.00 every ten years, so that's another six bucks which
will take another 12 years to recover. But 12 years means one more set of
batteries, which requires another four years. Let's see, now (mumble,
mumble, carry-the-three), ah, yes.
Your wireless solution will save you money after a mere 73 years of service.
This does not count lost opportunity costs of the original $15.
Doorbells once used carbon-zinc batteries. Their shelf life wasn't
good. That explains the change to transformers.
I've tried battery-powered wireless door chimes. I used AA alkalines,
which have a much longer shelf life than conventional carbon-zinc. The
problem was the current draw of the receivers. A set of batteries would
last only a few months, and a lot of visitors might leave frustrated
before I realized my chime was out of service.
How about a wired chime using a lithium battery? The battery could
outlast a transformer and be cheaper to replace.
Haven't had that problem like that. Just checked to see if it worked,
since I don't get a lot of visitors. It works.
The receiver uses 2 C's, so I was wrong on that. The pushbutton is
unlighted. You can hear the chimes from outside, so you know it's
working. But there's a knocker on the door too, just in case.
Ending my part in doorbells and knockers discussion. That's all I
know. Carry on.
Why use battery-powered chimes (as opposed to transmitters)? My
wireless chimes plug into outlets (upstairs and downstairs chimes).
Being as they make noise, it's not like precise location is critical.
The transmitters use a "N" battery every 3-4 years. You do have to
check occasionally to make sure it's still working.
The operating cost (75 cents per year for batteries, and whatever the
line draw is) is probably more than a transformer-operated bell but
we're way down in the noise range of expense.
I've had one in service for at least a decade. It's outlasted several
of the button/transmitter units. And a second (upstairs) for 3-4 years.
The nameplate current is 50ma (which would be 6W) on one, and about
twice that on the other, but I think that must be when actually making
noise, as I couldn't measure *any* current drain.
You just reminded me of the doorbell at "Neighborhood Bike Works", AKA
"The Bike Church". That outfit uses some space at a church.
There is a sign sying, as best as I remember: "Pull brake lever to ring
They have a handlebar mounted onto something or other close to the
handrail for the stairway for that offbeat entrance into the church
complex. The brake lever is connected to a brake cable, that is routed
through a small diameter hole in the exterior wall. Apparently, the other
end of the brake cable pulls the lever on a bicycle bell that is suitably
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
Or rechargeables. The precharged NiMH ones seem to hold their charge
for a long time.
Ours just emits a strangled sort of buzz; replacing it with a cheap
wireless one would be a definite advantage if it weren't for the fact
that our friends all know to knock -- anybody who rings the "bell" only
wants to convert us to something or sell us something.
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