Regardless of how simple Electric doorbells may seem to the naked eye, there is a wonderful mechanism within them. So, how does an electric doorbell work?

The basic mechanism of a doorbell is the electromagnetic solenoid within itself. The basic principle is that the electricity makes a metal hammer hit the bell which creates the sound. But there are other modern doorbells that may employ a significantly complex set of mechanics.

In this article, I will go deeper into the working mechanism of an electric doorbell. I will also talk about how modern doorbells and wireless doorbells work.

How Does An Electric Doorbell Work

What Is an Electromagnet and a Solenoid?

An electromagnet consists of a magnetic core encircled by a wire coil through which an electric current is sent to magnetize the core. The solenoid refers to the wire coil. These are the two main components of an electric doorbell.

Fig 1- An Electromagnet Within a Solenoid
Fig 1- An Electromagnet Within a Solenoid

In the above diagram (Fig 1), a solid piece of metal is inserted below the solenoid. Through the wire, electricity is run. Which creates an electromagnetic field within and outside the solenoid. This in turn magnetizes the metal within it.

Hence, they are called electromagnets. Because they rely on electricity for their magnetism. Without electricity, it becomes a regular piece of metal rod again. You may check out single phase vs three phase electricity as well.

Atoms make up all matter, including the rod in an electromagnet. The atoms in the metal core are placed randomly before the solenoid is electrified, not pointing in any specific direction.

The magnetic field penetrates the rod and realigns the atoms when the current is applied. The magnetic field expands as these atoms move together in the same direction.

The alignment of the atoms, tiny patches of magnetized atoms called domains, changes with the level of current, thus you can regulate the magnet’s strength by manipulating the flow of electricity.

When all of the domains are aligned, there is a point of saturation where adding more current will not result in more magnetism.

How Does the Electric Doorbell Work?

An electric doorbell employs an electromagnetic hammer and a bell to generate the sound of the doorbell. I will discuss in detail the entire mechanism below.

Fig 2- Electric Doorbell Mechanism
Fig 2- Electric Doorbell Mechanism

So how does an electric doorbell work? Take a look at the above diagram (Fig 2). There is a metal bell on the left side of the diagram.

There is an electromagnet attached to the power source on the top right side. It is placed directly above a metal hammer.

When the switch is pressed, electricity flows through the solenoid which turns the electromagnet on. This pulls the electric hammer close to the magnet. This makes the hammer hit the bell. This makes the doorbell ring.

Now, if you notice below the electromagnet, at the base of the hammer, you can see that it is lightly connected to the circuit to keep it complete.

However, when the electromagnet is turned on, the hammer is pulled closer to the magnet, and the circuit is broken.

This in turn again turns the electromagnet off. Thus, the hammer falls below the electromagnet, again completing the circuit.

And making the electromagnet functional again. This cycle will repeatedly keep running over and over as long as the switch is pressed and the power is being supplied to the doorbell.

Once the circuit is broken, there will no longer be any electromagnetism involved, hence silencing the doorbell. This is the basic principle through which regular doorbells function.

However, there are other modern doorbells that may not have a bell and a hammer to ring and make the noise. Instead, they may have pre-recorded tunes on their circuit board. Which is a bit more complex mechanism than an average doorbell.

And an even more amazing fit is the smart doorbell. Where not only does the bell ring, but it also shows a live video feed of the front of the door to the residents on their phones or a console.

I will briefly discuss the mechanism of a wireless chime doorbell in the next segment.

How Do Modern Wireless Doorbells Work?

Wireless doorbells do not depend on the electromagnetic rod that normal doorbells rely on. Instead, they have a receiver, which when receiving the signal, plays a pre-recorded tune. In even newer revisions, they may have several recorded tunes on them.

Fig 3- Wireless Doorbell Working Diagram
Fig 3- Wireless Doorbell Working Diagram

A wireless electric doorbell has two different parts (Fig 3). A remote and the actual doorbell itself. If you want to troubleshoot Hunter fan remote, there are a few steps. The remote contains a transmitter.

And the doorbell has a receiver. When the remote is pressed, the transmitter then sends a radio wave to the doorbell. The receiver of the doorbell receives the signal through the receiver.

There are pre-recorded audio tunes on the circuit boards of the doorbell. Once the signal is received through the receiver, the doorbell plays this tune through the speakers. This is how wireless doorbells work.

There are no hammers or electromagnets involved except for the speaker component. So, does doorbell work without power? No, they don’t. They need electricity to function.

Also Read: How To Wire A Doorbell Transformer?


Throughout this article, I have gone through the details of the working mechanism of an electric doorbell. So, if you were wondering how does an electric doorbell work, this article should have properly answered that question.

Whether you want a wireless doorbell or a traditional one, is totally up to you. Choose whichever one is more convenient for you and is more suitable for your household.