Are you currently renting but want to upgrade to a smart home? Does it seem pointless because it’s not your house? Well, there’s actually good news.
There are plenty of smart home ideas and products that are perfect for your existing apartment or rental home and can easily go with you on your next move.
Most of these smart home accessories can be used without having to drill into the wall or ask permission from your landlord. We’re going to take this opportunity to list the best smart home products for renters.
There are plenty of smart home products that you can use as a renter, even if you have a small house:
- Smart Home Hubs & Smart Speakers
- Smart Lights
- Smart Plugs
- Sensors and Smart Buttons
- Smaller Appliances
- Security Cameras
Some devices you’re definitely not going to want to fool with. These are accessories that aren’t realistic to be taken with you when you move. For instance, a wall socket, hard-wired alarm system, voice-controlled awnings or a sprinkler system for the garden. These are generally not good investments unless you own the home.
Other things may require 15 minutes to install and then again to uninstall. These will be things like your smart thermostat, video doorbell or a smart door lock. You also may need to get permission from your landlord to install these.
Side note: There’s always the chance that you may be able to convince the next tenant to take over your smart home installation for a reasonable price. This is unlikely but could be worth a shot. I’ve seen stranger negotiations.
There are some awesome exceptions to the above statements though! For example, Ring makes a great wireless security system with optional 24/7 professional monitoring.
Mounting the system is about as difficult and intrusive at hanging a few pictures. (I say a few because there is the keypad, the base station, and whatever door, window or motion sensors you choose to mount.)
If you really wanted to, you could change out a lot of hardwired things that wouldn’t be too difficult to undo later. You could replace sockets and switches and replace the old ones when you move. This just depends on how handy you are and how much you want to invest in your rental.
Here’s a rundown of the best smart devices you can set up as a renter.
Smart Home Hubs/Smart Speakers
A smart home hub is a device that wirelessly connects to and controls other smart devices. Without getting too deep, a smart speaker is currently the most popular and simple solution to a smart hub. If you’re just starting out and you haven’t purchased a smart speaker yet, you definitely need to grab one first thing. The most popular are the Echo line by Amazon (Alexa) and Google Home. If you are an Apple user, the purchase of a HomePod might your best choice. Personally, I’m an Alexa user.
If you don’t have much to spend or if you still have doubts about whether a smart speaker is for you, then you could also start with a cheaper alternative, such as the Google Home Mini or an Echo Dot.
While we’re on the subject of smart speakers, let’s talk about multi-room options. A multi-room system ensures that you can listen to the same music everywhere in your house. If you walk from the kitchen to the living room, you will continue to hear the same music. For Apple users, AirPlay 2 can accomplish this via several smart speakers.
For Alexa, the Amazon Echo Plus has great sound that will fill a room. You could, for instance, put one in the bedroom, one in your living room and one in the kitchen. This solves a multi-room solution for both smart hubs and multi-room speakers. “Amazon Cast” is a feature in the Amazon music app. This will allow you to better control which rooms you’re streaming your music.
Finally, for the more advanced music buff, the Sonos system supports both the Google Assistant and Alexa. In other words, you’ll use the multi-room Sonos system for your music, and your individual smart speaker more for just a smart hub. In this case, you can downgrade most likely to the Echo Dot.
Smart lighting is very convenient, cheap and easy to implement. There are smart lamps, smart bulbs, smart light socket adapters and smart wall socket adapters. Also, if you replace energy-wasting light bulbs in your house with smart LED lights, you also save on your electricity bill.
Some popular worthwhile features include controlling your lights by voice command, having your lights automatically come on with a timer, dimming the lights even though there isn’t a dimmer switch installed, and setting different lights in groups to be able to operate with one command.
Also, for the purposes of the article, if you ever move, you can easily take the equipment with you. Moreover, with most lamps and smart bulbs, you can vary with color so that you can really control the atmosphere. Bright light if you have to concentrate, disco effects at a party or dimmed warm light during an evening watching a movie.
Interior lighting is one of the most important elements of our homes. With the help of lighting, we can build a mood and improve the comfort of individual rooms. For that reason, I’m going to go a little bit deeper before moving on. Most lighting is turned on with the full power of the luminaire. To limit the power of lighting, drivers are used to regulate the intensity of lighting, so we can build light scenes. A family meeting at the table or a romantic dinner for two will require completely different lighting in the same room.
Lighting scenes are created by several lighting fixtures at the same time; each of them is individually controlled. With the help of the controller, we can regulate the illumination emitted by the luminaires. A dozen or so settings of each of the luminaires that make up the lighting stage can be stored in the device. Then, selecting one of the lighting programs (light stage), we can control the mood in a given room.
The light source may change. For example, the ceiling lights will turn off, and the side halogens will be switched on, giving a soft light. The intensity can also be adjusted. Maybe the intense main lighting will be dimmed, causing a dim twilight in the room. And/or maybe the color of the lights change. Each lighting stage may also include the function of lowering the blinds and even switching on romantic music.
You don’t have to replace your socket if you want to operate certain devices in your home. You just plug a smart plug (adaptor) between the socket and your device. You can now choose from plugs from multiple brands that work with Alexa, Google Home, etc. Some of these can be controlled with Siri also.
Smart buttons and sensors
Smart buttons (Click here to check out Flic Smart Buttons) can control most smart devices and groups of smart devices. Just as you could set the mood and make it voice-activated, you could do the same with a wireless button. You don’t have to connect smart buttons to the power grid, because they work on a battery. You can attach them to the wall with an adhesive strip or simply put them on the coffee table.
With smart sensors, you can go in all directions: you place them on a table in the hall, so that the lamps automatically switch on when movement is detected. Or you put a sensor in the bedroom so that you can measure the air quality remotely. Because you do not have to install them, you can easily take them with you when you move, and they can always be fitted somewhere in your next home.
There are sensors for movement, temperature, humidity, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. They are often used separately and easy to carry. You will have to attach door and window sensors in the home, but this is often done with an adhesive strip so that you can easily remove it again without leaving any holes.
From smart vacuum cleaners to refrigerators, almost every household appliance is nowadays available in a ‘smart’ variant. For instance, smart washing machines and ovens allow you to request the status and change the settings. With smart refrigerators, you can keep track of whether certain products are still in stock, but this is still largely a manual process.
There are also various smart household appliances for personal use, such as smart toothbrushes. You will also receive an analysis of your cleaning performance afterward. A smart scale automatically forwards all measurements to an app. As far as the possibilities are concerned, the sky is the limit. Some of the devices aren’t exactly practical though, so think carefully whether it makes sense to spend extra money on the ‘smart’ version of a household appliance.
Replacing a thermostat is pretty easy and can be done in a few minutes with a youtube video. I’ve included it in this list as I know several people who have bought their own Nest thermostats while renting their homes. This isn’t just convenient, but it really helps conserve energy and saves money.
Personally I use the ecobee4 smart thermostat.
Alarms and Home Security
There are a few great smart home options on the market for increased security. Smart cameras can also integrate with the alarm systems for added convenience.
Smart Door Locks
If you’re going to build a secure home, you’re best starting with the front door. Some features generally include being able to monitor who is entering and leaving your home while you’re away, using a keypad or your phone for entry if you don’t have your keys, assign special privileges to certain users, and assigning voice commands.
Some models simply let you use your phone to open and close doors. This requires a pretty quick installation that can be undone when you move out. It’s a little harder than using a smart plug adapter though.
As far as Alarm systems go, I can’t recommend enough the Ring Alarm as I mentioned above. In my opinion, there’s nothing else on the market that can compare.
Smart Security Cameras
A security camera such as the Nest Outdoor or the Ring Floodlight will not be screwed to your outside wall as quickly unless it can easily be removed again. Fortunately, most HomeKit cameras are a lot more mobile: put them indoors on a cupboard or table and then you can keep an eye on if a possible burglar is sneaking through your house.
Check out our recommended smart cameras here: What is a Ring Cam (and Why You Get One).
Another popular application of a smart home system is the simulation of the presence of household members. It involves lighting or extinguishing the light in specific rooms. To make the presence of residents even more realistically, a loudspeaker module can be used, thanks to which, during the absence of the household, it is possible to play the sounds recorded by them and add new ones via the webserver. Existing systems on the market enable the use of devices integrated with them, such as a TV set or a telephone.
This can easily be done using Alexa Skills if you’re wanting to go that route.
I hope this post was helpful to you and that you’re able to apply some of this material. Check out the other sections of this site for more tips on building a smarter home.
If you want to make sure everything is compatible, you can use Alexa as your smart Hub and combine any of these products in your apartment or rental home as well.