I have this antique doorbell. It has a light switch on the unit itself that operates 2 mini bulbs (one at the top, one bulb at the bottom). The light switch is at the top, the button is on the bottom.

When I hook up the door bell to my lantern battery, with the lights off, everything is fine and the button rings the bell.

As soon as I turn on the light, the bell itself vibrates continuously. Whether I have 1 bulb in, or both, either end. I do not know much about electrical circuits/current but I do realize that having the light on is somehow keeping the circuit open (?).

The bulb is a 1.5V .3A mini bulb. I just do not know how to connect this doorbell correctly, or if that is the correct bulb to use.

Further, when I started, it had 1 original bulb. That one lights dimly, but, the bell does not appear to vibrate with that bulb. That mini bulb has no numbers on it, so I do not know the V (nor do I know how to find out). But, as soon as I put a new bulb in (on either end), the bell vibrates.

Is the bulb I'm using too high of a voltage?

None of the wire connections in the back appear to be shorted or corroded

How should this be wired?

Thank You.


[Doorbell to battery] [With Light working] [Wiring in the back]

  • afik doorbells operate on 20 V to 24 V ac. It could be that antique electric doorbells operate on DC, but I kinda doubt it. Are these two lights in series or in parallel with each other and with the coil that operates the doorbell? Feb 3, 2017 at 23:09
  • Can you use a mechanic's stethoscope to localize the vibration while the lantern battery is attached? I suspect the vibrations are the AC coil expressing displeasure at running on DC... Feb 3, 2017 at 23:28
  • 1
    I second previous comments, your bell needs to be running on 24 VAC. I would bet it even says that on the mounting plate or coil. You can get a transformer at any good hardware store. Note- when you switch to the proper power source for the bell, you will have the wrong lightbulbs (1.5V .3A). Feb 3, 2017 at 23:34
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    Found out some antique doorbells do indeed operate on low voltage DC. Is there any writing on the front or back indicating power requirements for this one? Feb 3, 2017 at 23:35
  • Post another picture showing how the wiring is connected also. That looks like a 6volt battery? The light apears that you could be wired in series, which would be to drop voltage to the coil. It's also not clear this is antique doorbell it appears to be more of a hobbyist experiment.
    – Tyson
    Feb 4, 2017 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


I agree that is not an antique bell but my wife says I am so who knows. If it works with the 6v lantern battery get a transformer and to drop the AC down to the listed voltage on the bell then a full wave bridge diode pack. The bridge will have wavy lines at 2 of the terminals this is the connection for the AC, the other 2 connections are the D.C. Connect these where your battery is and it will work the same as your battery. The transformer and diode pack should be mounted in a box. There are door bell transformers that come mounted to a box and some are D.C. But I don't remember ever using one below 12v.

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