Have you ever wondered how a doorbell works? The electric doorbell is one of the most common doorbells used in homes today. It is a simple device that makes a sound when a button is pressed.  

The fundamental idea is that sound is produced when an electric hammer strikes a bell. Other contemporary doorbells, however, could use a system of mechanics that is far more complicated.

This article will explain how an electric doorbell works as well as take a deeper look at the electromagnetic mechanism that is responsible for the sound. 

How Does An Electric Doorbell Work

What Are 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 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.

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?

Maintenance and Troubleshooting of Electric Doorbells?

Like all electronic devices, they can sometimes experience issues and require maintenance or troubleshooting. Below are some common issues that can arise with electric doorbells and suggestions for how to fix them.

One common issue with electric doorbells is that they may not ring when the button is pressed. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including a broken or loose wire, or a malfunctioning doorbell transformer.

You can start by checking the wiring and connections to ensure everything is secure and in good condition. If the wiring appears to be fine, you can try replacing the doorbell button or the transformer.

Another issue that can occur with electric doorbells is a weak or intermittent ringing sound. This can be caused by a low battery in the doorbell, a damaged speaker, or a problem with the wiring.

To fix this issue, you can start by replacing the battery and checking the speaker for any visible damage. If the problem persists, you may need to check the wiring for any issues or consider replacing the doorbell unit itself.

To prevent issues with your electric doorbell, it is important to regularly maintain and clean it. This includes cleaning the doorbell button and speaker, checking the wiring for any damage, and replacing the battery or transformer as needed.

It is also a good idea to test the doorbell regularly to ensure it is working properly.


The electric doorbell is a simple yet effective device that has been used in homes for many years. It consists of several components which work together to produce a sound when a button is pressed.

It is powered by either a battery or an electrical outlet and is relatively easy to install. This article has explained how an electric doorbell works and its components to help you understand the basics.

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