Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ring My Bell

Almost exactly 4.5 years after moving in, we finally have a functional doorbell.  The previous one may have been original to the house (which is original to the late 1800's).  We generally like to preserve whatever we can, but in this case the wiring was mostly ripped out inside the house, the sensor was rusted, and the wires from the doorbell were dead-ends.  We opted to go wireless.

In the doorbell section at the hardware store, there were a handful of "wireless" systems but all the buttons were ugly or boring.  Not what I wanted for one of the first things visitors see.  The wired selection was much bigger and generally prettier, but we weren't up to re-wiring the whole set-up or paying someone else to do it.

There's a nice work-around, but the only place I've seen it is Home Depot.

Basically you buy whatever wired doorbell you like from this brand as long as it has a round button.  The wired button mechanism pushes right out of the plate (pushing back to front).

The converter is a clear plastic tube about the size of a pack of Smarties and inside has a battery, a small electronics board, and an 8-pin code (8 tiny switches like a fuse box).  The top of it has another round doorbell button.  The tube feeds through the front of the previously "wired" doorbell cover so that the push button is now where the wired one had been and the whole contraption is now wireless.

Once you remove the old doorbell, there's already a hole in the doorpost where the wires went.  You remove or tape off the wires (in our case they were already cut and just pulled out to be about 2 feet long) and install new doorbell so that the tube is recessed into the doorpost.  Easy peasy.

There was also a selection of 8-10 door chime boxes in different styles which could be hooked up with wires or used wirelessly using three D batteries.  There are 10 chime sounds to choose from: a basic ding-dong, a few long versions of the "Westminster" variety, and ones that sing Happy Birthday, Star Spangled Banner, Jingle Bells (I think?) and other seasonal options.  These are set by just pressing the button on the back so we'll be trying out the Happy Birthday door chime at Jorge's birthday in a few weeks.

There's an 8-switch code in the chime, too, and you have to set the code of the doorbell to match the chime.  So if your neighbors have the same set-up, you can set yours to be, say, (123) instead of (567) and avoid having both houses ringing when someone hits the doorbell.  A very simple matter of choosing 3 switches in each.  Done.  So far we haven't heard any mystery rings or seen neighbors peeking out their doors when we ring ours, so our code seems to be unique enough.

This was much more expensive than it had to be (about $100 where a basic flat white-with-a-white-button wireless would be about $15; but probably still cheaper than having a professional come wire a new wired bell) but we wanted something that fit in with the house and looked as nice or nicer than the previous (non-functional) doorbell.  Once we scrape off that rectangle of sticky foam that held our previous low-end (and quickly broken) doorbell and then repaint the door frame, it's done.  Mark one off the honey-do list.  Yay for small easy projects!

1 comment:

  1. Good work! I switched out our doorbell too (and shorted one of the wires in the process). Your new doorbell is beautiful. I need to come and try it out in person sometime. :)