How To Add A Master Switch To Your Doorbell Transformer
Why Would I Want To Do This?
The answer is simple really, my wife and I just had a newborn baby, and with all the new foot traffic in and out of the house, I didn't want everyone ringing my doorbell all the time. I'm sure I don't have to tell you but, a sleeping baby is a precious thing and that also means its time for Mom and Dad to catch a few Z's.. My mother in law suggested that I put a sign up asking people to knock instead of ringing the bell. While this will certainly work well, I didn't want to announce to strangers or passers by that we preferred them to knock. I just didn't think it was in good taste, so I began brain storming ways to disable my doorbell. People can usually hear that a doorbell isn't working and then they knock anyway. I don't want to permanently disable my bell mind you, just on a temporary basis.
There Are So Many Ways To Accomplish My Goal!
I sorta feel like a kid in a candy store, because there are so many ways I can actually disable my door bell! I want it to work sometimes, so a permanent solution is not right for our family. The first idea I had was to simply unscrew the button itself and disconnect one of the wires.. This would work but would be a bit of a pain in the neck to keep "breaking" then "fixing" all the time. Usually a doorbell isn't on it's own circuit breaker so it's not like I could just switch it off at the panel. Doorbells operate on approximately 16 Volts AC. I have no clue why, as this seems like such an odd number, but since it's very low voltage, the wires are similar to telephone cable. You may have noticed somewhere in your home, you have a small transformer sticking out of your wall that has a slight hum to it. Odds are it's your doorbell transformer. I have seen them hidden in master closets, hallway closets, and in my case the garage. It just depends on what your builder was up to the day of the installation. You could simply just remove one of the wires from the transformer, or even just remove one of the wires at the actual door bell itself, but this just didn't seem right for me. So I did the next best thing: Add a switch to the transformer!
I'll Just Add A Switch!
The process was actually really simple. I just unscrewed the faceplate screws above and below the transformer and exposed the electrical wiring box behind it. If you do this, be sure to turn off the breaker to the circuit. Have a flashlight handy because it often is on the same circuits as overhead lighting. I then removed the wire nuts, from the "Hot" (Black), "Neutral" (White), and the "Ground" (Green/Bare Wires). At my local auto parts store, I purchased a pre wired 10 Amp switch for less than $5.00. This means there are no terminals on it, but instead the switch has two wires dangling from the top or bottom. I was able to drill a hole in the face plate just below the transformer just big enough for the switch to fit through. So far so good. I then took one of the black wires coming from the transformer and put it on one of the switch wires. Now it's just a matter of putting everything back where it belongs. I successfully put the other transformer wire to neutral, the green wire to the bare ground, and then the other wire coming from the switch to the black "hot" wire coming out of the wall. I'm told if possible, you should always switch the "hot" side to prevent any safety issues. Once I remounted the switch pate, I was all done!
Man Project Accomplished!
Ok, so this man project was very easy, but you would be surprised just how many people wouldn't dare tackle it. It's not that bad if you turn off the breaker leading to the transformer, and when you select a switch, make sure it can handle at least 10 amps at 120 volts.. But I thought you said it was only a 16 volt A/C transformer? That's right, it is, but remember, the transformer is powered by 120 Volts AC. You can place a switch after the transformer, but I wanted a smooth look and didn't want any more wires hanging around than I needed so I opted for the small switch with the wiring inside the box. Now I have the choice of turning on the doorbell or turning it off all together. I think I'll leave it off for now, but once the little guy is on a more regular sleep pattern, I'll switch it back on. Now if only I could add an on/off switch to my dogs!