You do not need to wait to be a homeowner in order to implement your smart home ideas. Even if you rent an apartment and you are a big fan of the smart home movement, there are many smart apartment ideas that can help you make your apartment smart.
As a renter you would probably not be able to do just any adaptation you will think of, and just because of this reason I have made a list of smart apartment ideas that will help you turn your apartment into a smart home that is easy to move.
The smart apartment ideas I have listed here are not something that you must have all at once, but mainly to give you the vision what you can do. You can start with just a few ideas that you think are most convenient and most important for you in the beginning of your smart home journey, and then expand further on.
Smart Home Hub
If you are at the beginning of your Smart Home journey, then probably you will not need the Smart Home Hub immediately. Especially, if you have only few smart devices that don’t talk to each other yet, such as smart bulbs, smart vacuum cleaner, indoor camera, etc.
But, when you come into a situation to want to implement automations based on certain conditions, this is the time when the Smart Home hub has a great importance, because it acts as a “brain” of your smart home and makes other smart devices work in concert.
- smart air conditioner and/or smart air purifier stop working after the sensor notices you opened the window;
- smart AC controller puts the AC system in standby mode after you leave the apartment;
- lights turn on after the smart lock unlocks the door;
Choosing the right Smart Home hub depends on the Smart Home ecosystem you are going to build.
In simple words, if you are more into Amazon based devices, this means that Amazon Alexa is the smart home ecosystem, and in this case you will need the Amazon Echo as your Smart Home hub.
If you more into Google based devices, then Google Assistant is the smart home ecosystem, and you will need Google Nest hub as your smart home hub.
The smart home ideas for renters that are mentioned here are mainly Amazon based, which means the most logical choice for Smart Home hub will be Amazon Echo. Or, even Samsung SmartThings – because it also supports Amazon Alexa.
Peephole cam as outdoor camera
A peephole cam is a smart device that replaces your classic peephole and lets you answer the door from anywhere. The advantage of having this device is that you can enjoy all the benefits of a video doorbell – you will get mobile notifications, see your visitors in high definition, and also talk in both-ways to visitors from your phone or tablet.
- get notified whenever you have a delivery and let the courier know where to place your packages;
- Send away unwanted guests while you are at home or on the go;
- Define zones of interest and let motion sensor detect an events that matters the most;
- Peephole cam records videos and capture photos of moments you missed;
The most popular peephole camera nowadays is the Ring Peephole Cam and it works well with Echo Dot – the most popular smart speaker with Alexa.
Most smart locks replace the entire lock so that usually won’t work in an apartment. However, the August and WYZE locks allow the landlord’s key to still work because it only replaces the inside part. The WYZE Lock is just over $100 – much less expensive than the August smart lock. There is a keypad you can purchase separately but you might not be able to secure the keypad without drilling holes. Without it, you would have to use an app or your existing key to unlock the door.
There are a few reasons that might have still been worth getting, though. For example, if you see on the peephole cam that your dog walker is there, you can let them in from anywhere. You can also automatically lock, unlock, or add other automations like turning on lights when you come home, etc.
Smart speakers with Voice Assistant
When we talk about smart speakers, the great battle is between Google’s Home Mini and Amazon’s Echo Dot.
You might already have few Google Home Mini’s or Echo Dots laying around. Both of them have some advantages and disadvantages, however the smart apartment devices I describe here are mostly Amazon based.
It’s not that Google is not good, we just can’t trigger Google routines with devices yet. For example, Google doesn’t have peephole cam.
If you have the peephole camera, that it integrates well with Echo show 5 which isn’t too expensive. When someone presses the doorbell the live view can show up automatically on the Echo Show. Echo Dots can announce when someone is at the door as well.
Smart Light Switches
Smart light switches usually involve replacing the entire light switch. And this is not ideal even possible sometimes in an apartment. However, there is one possible solution that solves that problem – Third Reality Smart Switch.
It is a device that goes on top of your light switch and physically controls it to make it smart. This works either with toggle or paddle switches. It uses ZigBee standard, so you will need a hub. If you already have an Echo Plus it will work with that, but I would recommend getting a SmartThings hub – it is less expensive and it will help you grow your Smart Home in a future.
With this smart light switch you can automate your lights with the door lock when you come home. You can also use Amazon Guard to randomly toggle your lights and make it look like you are home when you are away. Just make sure to set it up as a light in an Amazon app.
The price is around $40 and the device is a little bulky, but for what it offers I think it could be worth getting one or two.
Smart bulbs are great for apartment since you can dim them and change the warm and cool whites.
If you run a tight budget and mainly use Amazon routines you can go with Techin bulbs, since you can take 2 for $20.
If you use SmartThings you can go with Sengled, but there is also LIFX and PHILIPS Hue for more premium features at a higher price.
There is so much you can do with Smart Lights, like flush a color when someone is at the front door. You can easily set this up with the Ring peephole cam.
There might be a few things around your place that you can automate with a smart plug, like a small fan or lamp. If you are using Amazon routines and want to keep all in the same app, then Amazon Smart Plug is a decent option.
It is rated up to 15 amps, so it does cost more than other smart plugs. However, SmartThings WIFI Plug is a good WI-FI one, that is even less expensive. It can also measure power usage and have it trigger automations.
You can also plug your TV in this “smart plug” and have automations when the lights turn off when the TV turns on and have the lights turn back on when the TV turns off.
Really, there are very inventive use cases for how to use smart plugs in your home.
Smart TV and Streaming devices
If you want to add more automations to your TV, the Harmony hub is a good option. You can control your TV with your voice and even do things like have it paused when someone presses the peephole cam. You can do this by having Harmony Hub controls the Firestick 4K through SmartThings.
You can also use your voice to display the front door camera with a Firestick. A streaming device like this turns out to be better for streaming content and faster than a smart TV.
Even if you don’t have a peephole camera you can quickly view other cameras like a WYZE cam, used as a baby monitor.
Are you worried because you can’t stream on your old, non-smart TV? Not anymore, as there are few workarounds on how to do it.
Indoor WIFI camera
Indoor cameras can be really useful and easy to set up in an apartment. There are a lot of choices when it comes to indoor cameras. In this post, I will write shortly about Eufy and WYZE.
Eufy‘s quality is much better than WYZE, but at a higher price tag. It has continuous video recording and the playback is very smooth. It also has a better video quality at 2K. However, Eufy is not as compatible with other devices, compared to Wyze. If you did get the Wyze lock that I mentioned earlier, you could have the Wyze cam start recording to the free cloud storage when the lock opens.
If you want to take your smart home up a notch, you can add some sensors. The most recommended sensors for apartments are motion sensors because you can set them on a various number of surfaces, which depends on where you want to use them.
Wyze Sense is really inexpensive and it can be automated using Amazon routines. You can have your lights turn on when you walk into the room or turn off when no one is there.
In general light strips are better option, but for apartments it might be annoying to move them. So, an easy to move alternative is a floor lamp. Have it point under the bed then the motion sensor can temporarily turn on the lights to help you if you have to get up when it is dark.
SmartThings sensors are more expensive, but take it a step further with a temperature sensor inside as well. So, even if you don’t have a smart thermostat you can still monitor the temperature of different rooms. That way if room gets really hot and stuffy, you can have the fan automatically turn on to get some air circulation.
Today, the number of security systems being offered on the market is enormous. Among the most popular ones is Ring Alarm. It was just updated to the 2nd generation not too long ago. Everything is wireless and it isn’t that expensive compared to others. Especially since you don’t have to pay to have it monitored.
But if you do want it monitored it costs $10/month, and that also includes the cloud storage fee for the front door peephole cam, that’s not too bad. One downside is that you can not automatically arm it. However, you can use your Echo to arm or disarm with your voice.
Overall, it works well and it is easy to use, especially if you already have the peephole cam. There is so much you can do to make your apartment smart.
Installing a smart thermostat in an apartment makes sense only if the technical preconditions have been met. The first thing to do is to see whether the smart thermostat will be compatible with the existing setup like the voltage, wiring between the HVAC and current thermostat, HVAC itself, etc. Most popular smart thermostats like Nest or Ecobee have their own compatibility checkers.
Another important factor is that you will need to inform your landlord about your plans and to ask for permission.
Many apartment renters managed to install a smart thermostat and put back the old thermostat when they moved away.
Here is a detailed article that provides answers to many questions related to installing a smart thermostat in an apartment.
Smart Air Conditioner
If heating and cooling your apartment relies on a standard air conditioner, you will probably not be able to replace it with a smart air conditioner. First, it is expensive and second, it requires dismounting the old air conditioner which probably your landlord won’t be happy to hear.
But, don’t fret. You can make the existing air conditioner smart by installing a smart AC controller.
A smart AC controller is a device that uses infrared technology and is able to manage the air conditioner similar to the common remote control does. Unlike the common remote control, this smart AC controller is WIFI enabled and is enriched with almost all the features as the modern smart air conditioners. The smart AC control is usually placed near the old air conditioner, therefore it has a direct line of sight to the air conditioner.
On the other hand, the Smart AC Control is connected to your home WIFI and it exposes all its functionalities through a mobile app that you can install on your phone, which now becomes your new remote control.
In simple words, the smart AC controller acts as a bridge between your old AC and your phone. The fact that it is connected to your home WIFI network, gives you the freedom to control your AC from wherever you are and utilize all of its smart functionalities.
The most popular smart AC controllers are compatible with Alexa and Google Home, which means you can integrate them easily into your Smart Home ecosystem.
Sensibo Sky is a smart AC controller that is highly popular nowadays. It is compatible with most of the air conditioning models such as Split ACs, Mobile ACs, Windows ACs, and Central ACs. It has built-in temperature and humidity sensors which especially come in handy when you want to monitor and control your AC from the phone, any time, and anywhere.
Learn how to make your air conditioner smart using the smart AC controllers, by reading this guide.
Smart Cleaning Devices
The most popular smart cleaning devices are robot vacuums. They are very autonomous devices that require very little input from you, and then they can operate on their own.
This is achieved by integrating the robot vacuums with Voice Assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.
From a practical perspective, investing in a smart cleaning device is maybe the best way to start building your smart home.
The first and most important reason is that this device will clean your home whenever you ask it to do so.
Second, they are mobile and you can take them with you even if you move away from the apartment.
Take for example iRobot cleaning devices. You can use voice commands with your Amazon Alexa voice assistant to clean on-demand, including starting or stopping cleaning, directing your robot to specific areas in your home, or performing other tasks such as scheduling an upcoming robot cleaning. Check this list of voice-commands just to get ideas about what your smart cleaning device can do for you.
Optimal choice for a vacuum robot that works well on most common surfaces like carpets, hard floors, which is also good for pet hair – is iRobot Roomba vacuum.
Smart Air purifiers
Besides the regular cleaning, another important aspect of the healthy living is to ensure that the air you breathe in your apartment is purified. This especially becomes important in the urban areas where the air pollution is reaching highest levels.
The idea behind smart air purifiers is to be able to have control over them using your mobile phone and possibly to integrate them with Voice Assistants like Alexa.
Smart Air Purifiers have built-in sensors that continuously monitor the air quality and based on the readings they automatically react and purify the air. They are WIFI enabled, which allows you to track the air quality in real time, using an app installed on your mobile phone.
One of the qualities of the best smart air purifiers is they are able to work autonomously and they can automatically adjust their operation, which means they can turn on and off based on the indoor air quality level,
Among the most popular Smart Air Purifiers currently on the market are TruSens and Dyson Pure Cool. Both are Alexa enabled, which means after connecting the air purifier to Alexa, you can utilize voice commands to trigger certain actions like:
“Alexa, turn ON/OFF kitchen purifier”, “Alexa, turn ON/OFF bedroom purifier night mode”, etc.
Another Smart Air Purifier is PHILIPS Air Purifier 2000i, also WIFI enabled and come with an app, to control it anytime from anywhere.
Another great smart air purifier is Sensibo Pure. It is another great product from the firm Sensibo after their Smart AC Controller. Sensibo Pure is also compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
What I like about Sensibo Pure is that it integrates very well with other Sensibo devices, in case you have them. For example, Sensibo Pure can communicate with Sensibo Smart AC Controller to increase air circulation and by doing this boosting air purification up to 70%. An automation by itself.