Written by Patrick Hearn.
Living in a rental, you may want extra protection for your belongings, and cost- and energy-saving conveniences to cut down on monthly bills. Adding wired home security and automation devices may not be allowable by your lease. But there are plenty of ways renters can take advantage of smart home technology that doesn’t require altering the space in any way. Check out some of these rental-friendly options and find out how you can create your own smart rental home!
Use smart light bulbs that you can take with you when you move.
Smart LED bulbs are rated for years of use, have hundreds of color options, and require nothing more than a lamp and a Wi-Fi connection. Starter kits offer an inexpensive way to get started with smart lighting. Set up is easy: Just screw in the bulbs, plug in the router bridge, and follow the instructions on the app. If your router’s Ethernet ports are already claimed and you don’t want the hassle of a bridge, some options have the bridge built-in to the bulbs themselves.
With smart lighting, you can set your lights to turn on and off, dim or change colors based on time of day, your motion throughout the home and more. You can also control them remotely via an app.
Consider DIY security and standalone cameras.
A full-fledged security system can be beneficial (and many options integrate with home automation systems), but they can also require modifications to your home you may not be able to make in a rental. Better alternatives to wired security systems are standalone security cameras. They provide a real-time look at the activity in and around your home. You can access the stream from your smartphone anytime you want, and the camera will send push notifications if it detects motion.
You can also get cameras with monitoring capabilities, set up through your local internet service provider. Some services allow you to store video in the cloud, so you can access previous video that has been recorded. This may come in handy if you want to review footage of a handyman coming in to do a repair or to monitor a dog-walker’s comings and goings.
Upgrade “dumb” appliances with smart plugs.
Sometimes it is far more cost-effective to use a Wi-Fi enabled smart plug or outlet than it is to purchase a new appliance. If you have a small space heater that you want to be able to turn on and off remotely, a smart plug gives you that ability.
Smart plugs control the power to an existing device, so they are a great option for managing devices that you want to turn on and off remotely without any major expenses. You can also find smart power strips that allow you to control individual outlets along the strip.
Use voice-activated assistants to help you control other smart devices.
Once you’ve decked out your rental with the smart devices you want to use, consider adding an AI assistant to the mix. They give you the ability to control these devices with your voice. Laying in bed and reading is made even better when you can speak commands and make your home’s electronics do the work.
Depending on the services you have (some may be provided by your local internet service provider), you can even use your voice to control your TV remote to bring up footage from your security cameras without getting up from the couch or bed.
Just because you rent doesn’t mean you have to forego the benefits of a smart home. Setting up your rental as a connected smart home can be as easy as calling your local internet service provider and connecting your security and automation devices through one smart home hub to manage and control your home from anywhere. It’s important to have a fast and steady home Wi-Fi connection which is needed to run many of these smart devices. There are many options to bring your apartment to the modern age that don’t require rewiring your home.
Patrick Hearn is an apartment-dweller and an Atlanta-based tech writer for XFINITY Home. He covers home security and automation, and he has plenty of experience outfitting his own rental with wireless smart technology.