Choosing a doorbell
When choosing your doorbell, there are many things to consider, various sounds, different sizes and styles. What follows is a discussion of the important decisions you need to make.
Choosing a doorbell for a period property can be a challenge. Most period homeowners want to retain many of the original features or recreate the authentic look of their cottage or Victorian home. One of the first decisions to make involves the type of installation you want - do you want a solution involving an electric bell or a purely mechanical solution?
Traditional mechanical bells that you need to pull to activate are a great choice for a decorative and authentic look. They are designed for use with butlers bells. Some pulls can be used in both mechanical or electrical installations, such as one of our favourites the Kirkpatrick Black Iron Bell Pull.
To complete your mechanical doorbell installation you will also need a crank such as the Kirkpatrick Fleur-de-Lys Crank and a Butlers Bell which includes the pulleys and cord that you need for a complete installation.
Another option for a completely mechanical solution would be to use a wind up door bell. These come in a variety of finishes and the supplied push button can be swapped out for a more characterful bell push - click here to see our selection of wind up bells and compatible bell pushes.
2. ELECTRIC - WIRED OR WIRE FREE
If you decide on an electric bell system, there are still a number of decisions you need to make. There are two types of electric doorbells – wired where there is a physical bell wire from the button to the bell/chime and wire free where the signal is transmitted wirelessly to the bell or chime so the bell or chime can be placed anywhere (within a defined range). With wired or wire free systems there may be a choice of mains power or battery for the bell itself. Ease of installation is a big factor here.
2.1 Wired Door Bells
The advantage of a hard wired doorbell system is that you can choose from a vast range of characterful bell pushes that come in all shapes and sizes and a multitude of finishes. The bell or chime may be powered either from the mains electricity supply or by using batteries.
a) Mains operated
A mains operated wired doorbell installation will require a push button, a transformer and a chime.
Transformers are available in 1 Amp and 2 Amp, if your doorbell is connected to only one door, a 1 Amp transformer will be sufficient, but for two-door installations, you would require a 2 Amp transformer.
Unless there is already an electrical installation in your property, a mains wired doorbell should always be installed by a qualified electrician.
b) Battery operated
An alternative that doesn’t require mains is to use a battery operated chime and the only wire required is from the bell push button to the chime itself. This type of installation is relatively straightforward and can be carried out by anyone competent at DIY. If you choose this option then we would recommend that you do not use an illuminated button otherwise it drains the batteries very quickly. Note you simply discard the plastic push button that comes as standard with this type of chime and replace with a more suitable one.
2.2 Wire free doorbells
Wire free doorbells are the easiest to install and are normally battery-operated. Instead of wires, radio waves are used to connect transmitter to the chime. In wire free doorbells, the transmitter is built into the switch button mechanism. Most wire free doorbells can be fixed to the wall using double-sided tape, or will screw simply into a wall and use batteries that are commonly available.
Wire free doorbell chimes come with a supplied plastic push button. An example of a wire free door chime kit is here.
An important factor to consider when choosing a wireless doorbell is the size of your property. The average doorbell can be heard within 45 meters of the chime, but the exact range is normally indicated on the product instructions or packaging. To extend the reach, you can purchase sound extenders that can be installed in further parts of your home, annexe or even garage.
Both wired and wire free doorbells are available in a variety of sounds. It’s important to choose a pleasant sound you like, something attention grabbing, yet peacefully enjoyable. If you like simple sounds, go for a buzzing sound, ringing bell or a “ding-dong” classic chime. More sophisticated doorbells come with complex melodies and sound effects.
Some chimes come with different sounds for multiple doors - for example our White Door Chime has a "ding-dong" for the front door and if required, just a "ding" for the back or side door. You will therefore know which door you will need to open for your guest.
Doorbells are an important part of the overall look of your door surrounding. All types of doorbells come in various colours, materials and styles. Our great selection of doorbell pushes is available in various finishes such as antique satin brass, polished brass, renovated brass look, polished nickel, antique grey, solid country bronze, satin chrome and cast iron for a traditional look.
The style should complement the overall look of you door and match other door furniture: door handle, knocker, letterbox, hinges and number plaque. Aged iron furniture would suit a cottage style property, whilst brass or chrome is recommended for Victorian properties. Edwardian door furniture could be black or brass.
The size of your doorbell will depend on whether it will be placed within the doorframe or on the wall. Typically doorframe bells should be narrow so they can easily fit within the frame. If you’re planning to place the doorbell on the wall, there is a lot more room to play with and you can choose practically any style and size that you want to. Some bell pushes can be mounted on wooden pattresses which makes installation a little easier as it gives a bit of space behind the bell push.