Are electromagnets used in doorbells?

Updated April 17, 2017

Most doorbells use an electromagnet. The electromagnet is turned on when the doorbell button is pushed and causes a chime or bell to sound.


Electromagnets are composed of a metal core wrapped with a coil of wire, called a solenoid. Electric current generates a magnetic field and creates an electromagnet when it passes through the wire. An electromagnet can only exert a magnetic force while electricity flows through the solenoid. Electromagnets turn off when the current is switched off.

Bell Mechanism

The doorbell button is a switch that opens and closes the circuit. Pushing the button completes the circuit; electric current flows through the solenoid and turns on the electromagnet. The electromagnet attracts, or pulls, a metal striker, which hits a bell to make the doorbell sound. When the button is released, the circuit is interrupted and the electromagnet is turned off. A spring pulls the striker back.

Chime Mechanism

Other electromagnetic doorbells use a plunger mechanism. A doorbell with a chime unit has an iron plunger with a plastic core. In the "off" position, the plunger is partially inserted in a solenoid. When the button is pushed, the electromagnet is turned on and the electromagnetic force pulls the plunger into the solenoid, which activates the chime unit.

Electronic Doorbells

Some newer doorbells contain an integrated circuit that activates a digital recording of a chime or other sounds when the doorbell button is pushed.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Alissa Pond Mentzer worked in biotech research and educational publishing before becoming a freelance writer in 2005. She has contributed to textbooks for The Mcgraw-Hill Companies and National Geographic School Division and writes science articles for various websites. Mentzer earned a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University in anthropology and biological sciences.