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Door Bells and Chimes

Door bells and chimes are a good way for visitors to alert you that they are at your door. They consist of two parts: a button to be placed outside the door and the chime mechanism, which is to be placed in a central area of the inside of the home where it can be heard.

Begin by decide whether you want a wired or unwired system. Wired units can be difficult to install if the wiring is not already in place. Unwired units are easier to install, but they usually run on batteries, which eventually will need to be replaced. Unwired units are also typically limited to a range of 100 to 150 feet between the button and the chime mechanism. If you will not be able to hear the ring in remote areas of your house, garage or business, chime extenders can be added to these units. Next, choose an appropriate mechanism and button unit.


The bell or chime mechanism is in a small box, usually made from wood or plastic. The least expensive units will have a simple ring, usually sounding twice for the front door and once for the rear entrance. More costly units will allow you to choose more complex sets of tones, some up to 64 different choices, including special holiday tunes.

  • The appearance of the box is only a factor if it will be visible, so pick according to where you are going to place it. Generally, the less expensive bell mechanisms should be heard but not seen.
  • Choose from a real bell or chime or an electronic sound generator. The electronic versions offer the variety of tunes, but the real chimes are considered more luxurious.
  • Make sure the mechanism can accommodate (both in wiring and in sound differentiation) as many buttons as you need.


The door button can be lighted or not, depending on how visible you want it to be. The button can also be mounted in a small escutcheon plate that dresses it up. These plates are usually made from solid brass but can be finished to look like pewter, nickel, copper or an antique finish. Porcelain is another popular choice.

  • Get one button per door
  • If the visitor will not be able to hear the chime, look for a button that gives some form of feedback (such as the light goes out) when pushed. Otherwise, they may "over ring" the button thinking it is not working.
  • Additional features to look for is an entrance alert which will activate the bell system if doors, windows or gates are left open, and an built in intercom, so that you can verify the identity of anyone ringing your bell.

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