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Is this doorbell transformer setup safe?

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 18th, 2020 10:36 am
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 1, 2020
37 posts
7 upvotes
Whitby

Is this doorbell transformer setup safe?

I’m looking to install a video doorbell in my new house and it turns out I need to upgrade the transformer since the current one is too weak. So I found the location of the existing one and its just hanging off the wall beside a bulb (see pics). Now I’m new to this but even to me this looks crazy. No way could this be safe. I’ve bought the new transformer but any advice on how to go about the install? It has to be more than unplugging and plugging in this case I figure.
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11 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 2, 2012
3342 posts
2172 upvotes
KINGSTON,ON
Wow, that's a hot mess.
Typically door bell transformers are located on electrical service panels, then the low voltage wire is run to the button and the bell. The transformer is fixed onto the panel with a locking ring, and the 120V wiring is enclosed with the panel's cover. I can't tell from images where the 120V wires are attached in that rats nest. You could just mount a surface mounted box, then attach the transformer to that, but this really should be cleaned up .
If you don't know anything about wiring, hire an electrician.
Deal Addict
Feb 11, 2018
1193 posts
1020 upvotes
Janajda wrote: I’m looking to install a video doorbell in my new house and it turns out I need to upgrade the transformer since the current one is too weak. So I found the location of the existing one and its just hanging off the wall beside a bulb (see pics). Now I’m new to this but even to me this looks crazy. No way could this be safe. I’ve bought the new transformer but any advice on how to go about the install? It has to be more than unplugging and plugging in this case I figure.
This is one F mess, although it won't start a fire... If your two transformers are the same (voltage/amps) than you can connect them in parallel and double the amps.
When you harm others, you are also harming yourself at the same time.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
33918 posts
19763 upvotes
Ottawa
No different than sticking to the side of the panel.
It's not going to fall off on it's own.

It's actually a common location for many older homes.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 1, 2020
37 posts
7 upvotes
Whitby
MrFrugal1 wrote: Wow, that's a hot mess.
Typically door bell transformers are located on electrical service panels, then the low voltage wire is run to the button and the bell. The transformer is fixed onto the panel with a locking ring, and the 120V wiring is enclosed with the panel's cover. I can't tell from images where the 120V wires are attached in that rats nest. You could just mount a surface mounted box, then attach the transformer to that, but this really should be cleaned up .
If you don't know anything about wiring, hire an electrician.
I know a little about wiring, not an expert but won't electrocute myself. I agree it looks like it needs cleaning up. Thought it looked crazy.
Deal Addict
Jun 8, 2004
1467 posts
386 upvotes
Oakville
Most of that white wire that is wrapped around the surface mounted light is attached to the electrical outlet box. You could unwrap the coil and move and mount that electrical outlet further away to the right and down from the doorway, and that will "clean up" most of the "look" of that mess.

There are two 120v white romex wires plus a 12v brown wire coming out of the corner of the door.
One 120v white romex wire goes into the left side of a round junction box that has a pull-cord light socket attached to it.
The second 120v white roxex wire wraps around the light four times and goes into the top right of an electrical box.
The 12v brown doorbell wire is attached to the low voltage front side of the doorbell transformer.

What is not visible is what the 120v connection wires on the back side of the doorbell transformer is attached to....I can only assume the previous owner sandwiched them between the metal junction box and the white light socket instead of going through any of the side knockouts in the junction box (this is the only thing that is not done safely).

Given the length of the doorbell wire, that round junction box was originally put there just for the doorbell, and the previous owner wanted a light in that location so they pulled the doorbell transformer off and added the pull cord light socket and then jerry-rigged the doorbell transformer back.

If your current round junction box is like this one, then remove the single knockout on either the top or bottom of the your junction box (as yours is rotated 90 degrees compared to one in the HD photo) and attach the doorbell transformer to the junction box through the knockout hole. Before you remove the knockout, measure and test fit your new doorbell transformer to see if you have enough mounting clearance.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/ibervi ... 1000151261

If not enough clearance, then you would need to buy that round junction box and buy one of these covers and remove the center knockout and attach your doorbell transformer to it:
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/ibervi ... 1000106229

Since the doorbell wire is too short, you will need to keep the doorbell transformer in the original round junction box and relocate the pull-cord light socket to the new round junction box that will be installed right next to it. So, you are going to remove the pull-cord light socket from the existing round junction box and you are going to mount the cover with doorbell transformer on that junction box (essentially, restoring this back to how the original builder had set this up, though it is strange that the builder had exposed romex wires as these should normally be armor BX cables).

You can then cut off and use a small 8" piece of the 120v white romex wire from the unused electrical outlet line (making that line 8" shorter, or buy the shortest length of romex wire) to make a connection from the existing round junction box to the new round junction box and attach the pull-cord light socket to that new junction box.

You will also need two orange wire connectors to connect the incoming 120v, the doorbell transformer, and the 8" 120v wire to the new round junction box (one for the white wires, and one for the black wires). The green ground wire from the doorbell transformer and the bare copper wire from the 8" 120v wire to the new round junction box, should be wrapped to the screw at the back of the original round junction box.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/commer ... 1000663550

Remember to turn off the circuit breaker and test for power before doing any work. Take a picture of how the pull-cord light socket was originally wired up and wire up the same way in the new round junction box using the 8" 120v wire.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 1, 2020
37 posts
7 upvotes
Whitby
cba123 wrote: Most of that white wire that is wrapped around the surface mounted light is attached to the electrical outlet box. You could unwrap the coil and move and mount that electrical outlet further away to the right and down from the doorway, and that will "clean up" most of the "look" of that mess.

There are two 120v white romex wires plus a 12v brown wire coming out of the corner of the door.
One 120v white romex wire goes into the left side of a round junction box that has a pull-cord light socket attached to it.
The second 120v white roxex wire wraps around the light four times and goes into the top right of an electrical box.
The 12v brown doorbell wire is attached to the low voltage front side of the doorbell transformer.

What is not visible is what the 120v connection wires on the back side of the doorbell transformer is attached to....I can only assume the previous owner sandwiched them between the metal junction box and the white light socket instead of going through any of the side knockouts in the junction box (this is the only thing that is not done safely).

Given the length of the doorbell wire, that round junction box was originally put there just for the doorbell, and the previous owner wanted a light in that location so they pulled the doorbell transformer off and added the pull cord light socket and then jerry-rigged the doorbell transformer back.

If your current round junction box is like this one, then remove the single knockout on either the top or bottom of the your junction box (as yours is rotated 90 degrees compared to one in the HD photo) and attach the doorbell transformer to the junction box through the knockout hole. Before you remove the knockout, measure and test fit your new doorbell transformer to see if you have enough mounting clearance.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/ibervi ... 1000151261

If not enough clearance, then you would need to buy that round junction box and buy one of these covers and remove the center knockout and attach your doorbell transformer to it:
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/ibervi ... 1000106229

Since the doorbell wire is too short, you will need to keep the doorbell transformer in the original round junction box and relocate the pull-cord light socket to the new round junction box that will be installed right next to it. So, you are going to remove the pull-cord light socket from the existing round junction box and you are going to mount the cover with doorbell transformer on that junction box (essentially, restoring this back to how the original builder had set this up, though it is strange that the builder had exposed romex wires as these should normally be armor BX cables).

You can then cut off and use a small 8" piece of the 120v white romex wire from the unused electrical outlet line (making that line 8" shorter, or buy the shortest length of romex wire) to make a connection from the existing round junction box to the new round junction box and attach the pull-cord light socket to that new junction box.

You will also need two orange wire connectors to connect the incoming 120v, the doorbell transformer, and the 8" 120v wire to the new round junction box (one for the white wires, and one for the black wires). The green ground wire from the doorbell transformer and the bare copper wire from the 8" 120v wire to the new round junction box, should be wrapped to the screw at the back of the original round junction box.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/commer ... 1000663550

Remember to turn off the circuit breaker and test for power before doing any work. Take a picture of how the pull-cord light socket was originally wired up and wire up the same way in the new round junction box using the 8" 120v wire.
Wow. Now this is a response. Thanks for the details and thought put into it.
I understand almost all of what you said but a couple questions. In the scenario where the new transformer has the clearance to be mounted on the top or bottom of the existing junction box, it would mean I would need to route the brown wire through the left side of the box and then out the top or bottom (wherever it's mounted). Will there be enough space to run through with the current 120v wire going to the bulb?
Should I also move the electrical outlet over to right in any scenario anyway (meaning whether or not im gonna use a new junction box)?
Thanks again
Deal Addict
Jun 8, 2004
1467 posts
386 upvotes
Oakville
Janajda wrote: Wow. Now this is a response. Thanks for the details and thought put into it.
I understand almost all of what you said but a couple questions. In the scenario where the new transformer has the clearance to be mounted on the top or bottom of the existing junction box, it would mean I would need to route the brown wire through the left side of the box and then out the top or bottom (wherever it's mounted). Will there be enough space to run through with the current 120v wire going to the bulb?
Should I also move the electrical outlet over to right in any scenario anyway (meaning whether or not im gonna use a new junction box)?
Thanks again
The 12v brown wires stay on the outside. Only the 120v wires are inside the junction box.

The doorbell transformer still sits exposed on top or bottom of the junction box with only the 120v wires going into the junction box through the knockout hole.
On the back side with the 120v wires will be the mounting bracket to secure it to the junction box knockout hole. There are usually two different mounting styles; a metal clamp with screw style or round nut style.
Deal Addict
Jun 11, 2010
1264 posts
693 upvotes
ottawa
Holy smokes op that is a mess of a wiring job. I would also recommend you snip the exposed wire to the correct length and your receptacle should really have a cover on it especially since this looks like an area bugs could get to easily? In my last house I had an exposed boxed when I was doing backsplash in the kitchen and I heard a huge POP in the middle of the night. A centipede had crawled into the box and touched the hot and neutral and exploded. Technically could cause a fire.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 1, 2020
37 posts
7 upvotes
Whitby
cba123 wrote: The 12v brown wires stay on the outside. Only the 120v wires are inside the junction box.

The doorbell transformer still sits exposed on top or bottom of the junction box with only the 120v wires going into the junction box through the knockout hole.
On the back side with the 120v wires will be the mounting bracket to secure it to the junction box knockout hole. There are usually two different mounting styles; a metal clamp with screw style or round nut style.
Thanks man. I'm gonna tackle this today or tomorrow and update when done!
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 1, 2020
37 posts
7 upvotes
Whitby
barqers wrote: Holy smokes op that is a mess of a wiring job. I would also recommend you snip the exposed wire to the correct length and your receptacle should really have a cover on it especially since this looks like an area bugs could get to easily? In my last house I had an exposed boxed when I was doing backsplash in the kitchen and I heard a huge POP in the middle of the night. A centipede had crawled into the box and touched the hot and neutral and exploded. Technically could cause a fire.
Good point.

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