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Doorbells have evolved from a button that when pressed rings or buzzes to announce an arrival. Security-conscious homeowners are installing video doorbells that link to their smartphones. Whether you’re installing home surveillance or just trying to get the chimes to work again, the first step is to find and test the doorbell’s power source.
This guide will answer the “Where is my doorbell transformer?” question that arises when it is time for a DIY fix or an upgrade.
What is a Doorbell Transformer?
Doorbells get their power from the home’s electrical system. The doorbell switch has two terminals that are wired to the doorbell transformer located in the house.
The transformer is a metal box with two terminals connected to the doorbell wires. It takes the standard electrical voltage in your home, in most cases 110 to 120 volts, and lowers it to about 10 to 24 volts. This keeps doorbells powered at the right voltage for optimal operation.
You may have to upgrade your doorbell transformer if you plan to install a camera doorbell or smart doorbell, which can require a power supply of 16 to 30 volts.
Where is the Doorbell Transformer?
Many builders will install the doorbell transformer near the main electrical panel or inside the doorbell’s chime or bell enclosure for easy access. Read further on how to find a doorbell transformer in your house.
- Check the garage: The doorbell transformer can be found near outlet boxes where cable TV lines and telephone cables are installed. They are commonly placed there because communications and cable TV lines are also low voltage and are often grouped together.
- Check around the security alarm system: Some builders tie the doorbell wiring directly into the security system. The doorbell transformer may be located on the wall near your security alarm keypad or control station.
- Look in the utility room: A lot of doorbell transformers are installed in the utility rooms of your home’s HVAC unit or furnace. It may be tucked away at the bottom of the HVAC junction box or mounted on the ceiling of the room. One reason for the transformer to be installed here is it could be surface mounted to the wiring of the existing HVAC or furnace junction box.
- Try the attic: Doorbell transformers are sometimes installed on an existing junction box in the attic of a ranch or a house with an attached garage near the front door.
- It may be in the closet: The doorbell transformer may be attached to the wall opposite the closet door. Move a few coats around and it might be there.
- Check under the stairwell: If you live in a two-story house and there is a storage closet beneath the stairs, the doorbell transformer may be wired there. Try looking on a wall under the stairs leading to the basement.
How to Check the Doorbell Transformer Wiring
Knowing how to test a doorbell transformer means you can pinpoint why your doorbell is not ringing or chiming and make the repairs to get it working again.
Test the wiring to determine if it is the source of your doorbell’s failure. Make sure it’s properly connected before you run any voltage test. The following steps show you how to check for problems in the wiring.
- Cut the power by switching off the main breaker in your home.
- Doorbell wire is usually 18-gauge and should be free of splices, tears and corrosion.
- If the wire in your transformer appears worn or damaged, you’ll need to replace it.
How to Test the Doorbell Transformer
Your doorbell transformer may not be producing enough voltage for your doorbell to work or to meet the power supply requirements of a smart doorbell or video doorbell. The following takes you through the steps of testing the voltage.
- Using a voltage tester or voltage meter, test the doorbell transformer by setting the meter to 25VAC (volts alternating current).
- Measure the voltage on the transformer to see if it’s producing enough electricity. Touch each probe to each screw head. The voltage should be at or around 16.
- If the voltage is too low, replace the transformer to repair your doorbell unit.
If you are looking to fix the doorbell or upgrade it for video surveillance, make a note of the location of the doorbell transformer. Test the transformer before you begin installation or repairs to ensure it provides sufficient power supply.
Download The Home Depot Mobile App for the testing supplies you need to check your home’s doorbell transformer.