Additional Door Chime
DEAR TIM: When my wife and I sit on our back patio, we can't hear the door chime. I was thinking of adding a second door chime adjacent to the patio door. This way both door chimes would work when the front door button is pushed. Is it possible to do this? If so, what do I have to do? I am not an electric wizard. In case the wiring process is too difficult, is there an alternative solution? Dale M., Arlington, TX
DEAR DALE: You bet you can hook up an additional door chime. In fact, it is possible to install up to 3 standard door chimes that are activated by front, back, or side door buttons. This is handy for people who find themselves working in a basement or up on a second floor area away from the primary door chime.
The electrical wiring process is not too difficult. You will probably have to install a new transformer. Single door chimes work best with 16 volt, 10 watt transformers. To power your additional chime, you will need to install a 16 volt, 30 watt transformer. The voltage and wattage of transformers is stamped or printed on the body of the transformer. When you install the 30 watt transformer, it can go in the same location as your existing transformer.
Before you begin to install the new transformer or modify any of the low voltage wiring from the transformer, you need to disconnect the high voltage power to the transformer. If you don't do this, you can easily cause an electrical short that will harm the transformer, the door chimes, and/or yourself.
The wiring of the second chime is not too difficult. You need to make sure that you use the proper wire. Purchase 18 or 20 gauge wire that is UL approved. Make sure the wire is the solid type, not stranded. Purchase a large spool containing several hundred feet. You will be surprised at how much wire you will use. The existing wires in your walls do not require upgrading.
Next, remove the covers from your door chimes. You will probably see four screws. Three of these screws are used to connect to the door buttons. They are usually clearly marked: Front, Rear, and Side. The other screw is marked Transformer. Your challenge will be to run 4 separate wires between the two door chimes. All you have to do is hook each individual wire to the same screw on each chime. For example, the first wire you run should attach to the screw marked Transformer on each chime. Be sure to leave the existing wires in place on the original door chime.
Once you have made all of the connections, re-energize the new transformer. As long as you installed a standard 2 note chime (Ding - Dong) to match your existing chime, both chimes should activate when someone pushes the front door button. Don't make the mistake of trying to install a fancy four or eight note chime if you have a traditional two note door chime. These fancy door chimes require a fifth wire to be run between the door chime and the door buttons. That can get complicated.
If you wish to avoid all of the wiring hassles, you can solve your problem by installing a new separate wireless door chime. These are very clever devices. They require no wires at all. The door chimes themselves are very attractive. Many have up to a 100 foot operating range. You can even get one that has a fancy eight note chime. Because the wireless models come with over 50 different codes, your TV remote and garage door operators will not cause the door chime to activate. You can also buy a wireless door chime that uses your existing door buttons and wall chime. The new slave chime installs in just minutes using your existing household electric current and the low voltage system already in place.
The only problem, I can see with this, is the additional door button you will have at each door. In order to activate your old door chime and the new one, a visitor will have to push both buttons. You may want to make a little sign that tells visitors to push both buttons. However, beware! This additional chime will cause you to gain weight from all of those small cookie and candy sales