What makes a doorbell ring?

“Curiosity” is a term that is mostly found in kids, but as we grow up, we just become less curious. Why? Because we are just told to not ask questions by our elders. Kids have so many questions, especially the ‘how’ questions.

How does something work? It could be anything, so in this article, we’ll get to know how a doorbell ringing on its own. A doorbell that we all came across when we were a kid, and somehow, the mechanism always fascinated us.

We’re sure many of us must have intentionally rang the doorbell just for fun, haven’t we? It was such magic to know that if we press a switch, it’ll make a sound, “ding dong.”

So, are you ready to know its mechanism? Let’s get started! 

Doorbell rings on its own. 

How Does a Doorbell Ring? 

Before knowing its mechanism, let’s get to know its purpose. A doorbell is a common household device that alerts occupants to visitors at the door. So, if you visit someone’s house, you press the doorbell to let them know that you’re waiting outside their door. There are many types of doorbells, traditional as well as modern, but the mechanism remains the same.

  • Button or Switch: When someone presses the doorbell button or switch, it completes an electrical circuit, triggering the doorbell to ring. The circuit includes an electromagnet, and when the circuit is closed, the electromagnet becomes energized, creating a magnetic field. 
  • Transformer: A transformer plays a crucial role in regulating voltage. It reduces the standard household voltage, which is usually 120 volts, to a lower, safer voltage, typically 16 to 24 volts. This lower voltage is used to power the doorbell’s components like chime, button, and sometimes a camera or intercom system. A transformer is also used for safety purposes as it ensures that the electrical components of the doorbell work at a required voltage. This prevents the risk to users or the damage to the doorbell. 
  • Electromagnet: Another important element in a doorbell is the electromagnet. As mentioned earlier, if you press the bell, it completes an electric circuit, which means an electric current passes through the coiled wire of the electromagnet. This creates a magnetic field around the electromagnet, and it temporarily magnetizes a piece of iron or steel within the electromagnet. In response to the magnetic field, a striker is attracted towards the electromagnet, leading the striker to move towards the electromagnet. When the striker moves, it strikes a metal bell or chime, producing a ringing sound, which is the sound of the doorbell. So, whenever you hit the bell, this process repeats itself. 

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  • Bell or Chime Mechanism: Another crucial part of a doorbell is the bell. When a wired or wireless doorbell button is pressed, it receives a signal which triggers the bell or chime mechanism. This mechanism produces a distinct ringing or chiming sound, which is designed to be heard throughout the house. Which then serves as a notification to the people staying in the house that someone is at the door. There are many types of sounds, like the traditional ‘ding-dong’ sound, or you can give it a customization of yourself. 
  • Resonator: The role of a resonator is as crucial as the above four elements in a doorbell. It is designed to vibrate at a specific frequency when struck, and this vibration generates sound waves in the air, creating the audible ringing or chime sound that is associated with the doorbell. The resonator has a very unique shape, so the material amplifies the sound produced by the striker’s impact, making it louder and more audible. Lastly, the shape and material is the main reason behind the specific tone and quality of the doorbell sound. 
  • Buzzer (Modern Doorbells): Whenever someone presses a doorbell, an electric signal is sent to the buzzer. This buzzer contains electromechanical or solid-state components that vibrate when powered. This vibration generates sound waves, so the buzzer’s sound serves as an audible alert for the people inside the house. The modern doorbell systems also include advanced technological features like integration with smartphones or smart home systems, which makes the doorbell controllable via a smartphone. 
  • Power Source: The last important element that is responsible for the function of all the parts above is the power source, which is electricity. When the whole process takes place, a transformer connected to the home’s electrical system provides the necessary voltage to the circuit. It also energizes the electromagnet, causing it to create a magnetic field. There are even some doorbells that run via a battery or power management systems to ensure that the doorbell works even when there is a power outage. 


It’s shocking how growing up has narrowed our curiosity to a single problem or field, and our curiosity has almost died. Never ever kill that child in your head who likes to ask questions about each and everything around him.

You might ask yourself how a tube light works, how a fan works, what exactly a sound is, and how it generates. Etc.

In this article, we satisfy our curiosity by learning how a doorbell at our homes works and the mechanism behind it.

Steve Jobs famously said, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish,” and we just want to add another line to it, which is,” Stay Curious.”