smart apartment, keys and a home

If you rent your home or your apartment, your options with smart tech don't have to be limited!

Obviously, you don’t want to start remodeling or rewiring and it doesn’t make sense to install a kit you’ll end up leaving behind.

We’re here to stimulate your creative juices today with a batch of highly effective smart apartment and home products for any kind of renters. We’ll dive straight in with the beating heart of any automated space.

1) Smart Home Hubs

While you can control smart devices without a home hub, functionality is sorely limited. To enter fully into the spirit of home automation, you’ll need a third-party gateway.

Hubs have an inbuilt benefit if you’re renting your house or apartment. Not only is installation, quick and easy, it’s wire-free into the bargain. When it’s time to head on to your next rental, just pack up your hub with the rest of your smart apartment or home belongings.

Insteon Home Hub Central Controller

We’ve got several recommendations in this crowded vertical starting with the classic Insteon Home Hub Central Controller. To get the most from this robust hub, you need to commit to the Insteon ecosystem, but that’s not exactly a hardship. It is beginner-friendly and the only home automation protocol using a dual-mesh network.

The hub enables you to get all your tech singing together in harmony. Control devices from an app on your smartphone, using a physical controller or your preferred digital assistant. You’ll need an Echo or Google Home device for voice control.

The new and improved version is slimmer, boasts improved range and streamlined set-up while still coming in among the cheapest home hub. What’s not to love? Your landlord won’t have any problems either so check out this awesome gateway right here.

Samsung SmartThings Hub (Third-Generation)

We’ll be looking later this week at a variety of ecosystems, so you can decide which makes the best fit. While not the broadest or deepest range, Samsung SmartThings remains a rock-solid choice. Expansive interoperability and some neat devices extend to one of the finest home hubs on the market.

You can charge of a vast array of devices in-app on your iPhone or Android device. As with the Insteon hub, you’ll also be able to use your favorite virtual butler with the requisite smart speaker.

The SmartThings Hub renders scheduling and creating scenes a cakewalk. You’ll also be able to stay fully connected to your smart apartment or home, even when you’re away on vacation. Get alerts pinged to your smart phone in the event of any security breach or unexpected activity.

Wink Hub 2

Another sterling hub, the second iteration of the Wink Hub is compatible with over 400 smart devices. From Ring and ecobee through Google Nest and Philips, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

You’ll also get class-leading protocol support. Hub2 works with both Zigbee and Z-Wave for starters. With Bluetooth LE, Lutron Clear Connect and Kidde also enabled, you’ve got all main bases covered.

Another advantage of this gateway is the fact you can use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi networks. Throw in a crisp, intuitive app and an attractive price tag and this is a great solution for renters.

2.) Smart Plugs

A smart plug or smart outlet is one of the best methods of basic automation, without needing to make any permanent changes whatsoever.

Cheap and super-simple to set up, you’ll be able to take a smart outlet with you when you move house.

TP-Link Smart WiFi Plug Mini

If you’re concerned about smart plugs looking bulky and obtrusive, why not give TP-Link’s Smart WiFi Plug Mini a shot?

With a compact footprint, it sits neatly sideways so you won’t block the socket above in a dual outlet. You won’t need a hub and there are obviously no wires either. Plug-and-play doesn’t get more direct.

Paired with Alexa, you’ll be able to extend control to voice commands and remote access of any devices you plug in is a great bonus.

This smart plug works particularly well with devices like hair straighteners or irons that present a fire hazard if you forget to turn them off. Check in on your smart apartment or home remotely if you’re in doubt or set a countdown timer to make certain.

3) Smart Locks

You might think smart locks are out of reach with rentals. They vary substantially and many of them don’t make sense in a rental, unless you get permission from your landlord.

However, many slot over your existing hardware and require very little by the way of installation, so what is the most renter-friendly smart lock?

August Smart Lock Pro with Connect

Our standout choice for renters is the August Smart Lock Pro.

You simply slip this smart lock inside your door with no tweaks to the hardware required. Removing it when you leave your smart apartment is just as straightforward. You won’t need tools and you won’t need to cut new keys.

With the Connect gateway bundled, you can even use voice commands bringing your rental apartment into the twenty-first century in fine style.

Once you’re up and running you can offer keyless access to friends, family, service staff and contractors.

August has baked in DoorSense so you’ll be alerted if the door is not properly closed. Enjoy peace of mind even if you’re sipping cocktails on vacation secure that your property stays protected. The door locks automatically behind you as you head out, too.

4) Smart Lighting

If you don’t want to start rewiring the whole house or apartment, and you don’t want to invest in lighting you’ll leave behind, what do you do?

Place your trust in Philips.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue is the go-to choice if you want simple LED smart bulbs perfect for temporary accommodation. Control these white or colored LEDs with voice commands, in-app on your smartphone, or using a wireless remote. The way you control them depends on your set-up and whether you want to invest in a hub.

For a detailed look at these bulbs, check out our look at Philips Hue Starter Kits.

Whether you want a single smart bulb, or a more comprehensive starter kit, you can slip in some bulbs without needing to call in an electrician or annoy your landlord.

Check out our detailed study of setting up Philips Hue starter kit for more details. We also run down the most effective apps so you can get the very most from your smart bulbs.

5.) Smart Speakers

Another no-brainer for smart apartment or home renters is a smart speaker.

You’ve pretty much got a straight-up choice between Amazon’s Echo stable or Google’s trio of Home devices if you’re looking to use Alexa or Google Assistant.

Echo Plus Second-Generation

The key selling point of the retooled Echo Plus is the onboard Zigbee home hub. This allows you to start automating your rental without needing the extra outlay of a third-party gateway.

Where many smart speakers fall down woefully on the audio front, Amazon have reworked the Plus enhancing the soundscape. Immersive 360-degree audio and rich, powerful bass come courtesy of a neodymium woofer and a compact but potent tweeter.

Control of your smart devices is seamless and you’ll enjoy all of Alexa’s many smarts along with hands-free access.

Google Home Max

The range-topping Google Home Max might not be cheap but it punches above its weight on all fronts.

If you prefer the more intelligent search offered by Google Assistant, there’s no better vehicle for the mighty G’s AI-powered digital butler. Max can recognize who you are from your voiceprint delivering tailored search along with personalized music.

And, when it’s time to crank up the tunes, Smart Sound evaluates the environment and delivers a soundscape to match the room. For once, the “room-filling sound” promised is actually served up. A pair of highly capable excursive voice-coil woofers, along with 2 custom-made tweeters, give you a thumping low-end with no distortion even at high volumes. Music comes out equally impressively at the higher frequency range, too.

It goes unsaid you’ll be able to control a broad suite of smart devices hands-free with Home Max so why not treat yourself?

6.) Smart Displays

If you want the added functionality of a screen with your digital assistant, invest in a smart display. As with smart speakers, once your rental agreement is up, pop it in your suitcase and hit the road.

Echo Show Second-Generation

With Echo Show 5 ready to drop, our firm favorite of all smart displays is still the original Echo Show.

If you can’t wait for the scaled-down Show 5 – or the upscale Echo we’ll be looking at later this week – you can’t go wrong with this classic smart display for your smart apartment or home.

The 10-inch screen gives you full HD viewing and makes Echo Show a versatile kitchen companion. Whether you want to stream videos while you’re relaxing or call on some recipe assistance when you’re cooking up a storm, Echo Show has it on tap.

The expected smart home control completes a first-class package and this second-generation Echo Show continues to beat off all-comers.

7.) Air Purifiers

Do you suffer from allergies or asthma? If so, an air purifier is a wise investment for your smart apartment or home.

Dyson Pure Cool

As you’d fully expect from vacuum specialist Dyson, this purifier is highly tech-driven and fully WiFi-enabled.

With gold-standard HEPA-filtration, even the tiniest airborne pathogens and pollutants will be trapped. To qualify as a HEPA filter, 99.97% of particles down to a size of 0.3 microns. This safeguards you against all those irritants that can inflame allergies.

The Dyson sends out up to 77 gallons a second of purified air with 350 degrees of oscillation, meaning airflow is projected precisely where you need it.

Alexa-enabled, you’ll even be able to tweak this smart appliance hands-free from a distance.

As with all the smart products we’ve outlined today, this purifier is eminently renter-friendly.

8.) Streaming Devices

If you’re struggling for entertainment, there’s little better than Google Chromecast if you’re renting a property.

Google Chromecast Third-Generation

Google’s plug-and-play streaming device Chromecast is now into its third iteration and still going from strength to strength.

All you need to do to get going is slip Chromecast into the HDMI slot on your TV and you’re ready to enjoy all your favorite streaming channels from YouTube and Netflix through to HBO and all the other usual suspects. You can choose from 2000 apps to enjoy practically unlimited entertainment with no monthly subscription.

You can start your programs playing using voice commands if you’ve got Google Home in the house.

If you want to find out how to get the very most from Chromecast, check out our detailed piece right here.

9.) Smart Air Conditioner

A sad reality is that many rental units don’t come with AC installed.

How can you get around this without needing to make structural changes or leave the air conditioning unit behind when you leave your smart apartment or home?

Fortunately, there’s a handy solution in the shape of the Frigidaire Smart Air Conditioner.

You simply pop this 16 x 18-½ x 13-½ inch unit in the window and you’ll be rewarded with an energy-efficient AC rated at 8000 BTU. In plain English, that’s enough to cool and dehumidify a 350 square foot room.

You can control the Frigidaire in-app over WiFi or using Alexa assuming you have an Echo device in place. The app works on both Android and iOS.

If you’re looking to cool down your rental without losing your security deposit or your AC when you leave, the Frigidaire is the obvious answer.

Final Word

We trust you’ve found plenty of inspiration today for decking out your smart apartment or home rental without any intrusive remodeling or rewiring.

We’ve got a busy slate for the rest of the month and we update our blog daily. From impartial product reviews and how-to-guides to all the latest smart home news, we’ve got you covered here at Smart Home.

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