July 22, 2020 Rodney Cowled

The Smart (Rental) Home: A Smart Home Renters

The classic renter’s dilemma. You want your house to feel like a home…BUT you also want to make sure you’re getting your bond back and not leaving any lasting damage.

Messing with the wiring, holes in the walls or other permanent smart home solutions might be a no go – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your rental property a smart one, whilst still being able to pack it up at the end of your lease and move it to your next place.

Here’s the best smart home tech for renters.

1. Smart lighting – Bulbs & lamps

Lamps are the perfect way to add a decorative touch for renters, but even better if you make them smart. If you’re looking to add a little (smart) light into your life, there’s two ways to go:

Smart Lamps: These devices are usually an all-in-one solution – lamp, bulb & smart tech all packaged together.

Whilst this is the easiest & most straight forward form of smart home lighting, it’s also the most expensive. For those with a more discerning design eye, you might also find the available styles limiting, mostly in ultra-modern designs which don’t suit all homes.

Next up, smart bulbs. These guys are the most prolific and heavily marketed of smart home devices. You can keep your existing lamps (great for the budget) and just switch out the regular bulb for a smart one.

It’s an easy solution but can add up if your lamp has multiple bulbs.

Like anything smart tech, there’s pros & cons to smart bulbs & smart lamps. To help you make the best choice, you can read my full guide on smart lighting here.

2. Smart Plugs 

If you’re a renter, messing around with your home’s wiring is simply not an option. Even if you own your home, the whole process of sourcing an electrician, cutting into walls etc. can be a daunting one.

Enter the smart plug.

A smart plug gives an element of control to most other electronic devices. It will enable you to turn on fans, outdoor lighting or other ON/OFF type appliances with your voice or an app.

Unlike complicated wiring, smart plugs fit into standard power outlets and are designed for your other devices to plug right into them.

Picture this, you’re driving home on a sweltering 30+ degree day and can’t bear the thought of walking into the still, hot air of your apartment. A simple “Alexa, turn on the fan” when you’re a safe distance away will start those cool breezes going well before you walk in your front door. More on smart heating & cooling here.

3. Video Door Bells

Sick of running to the door only to find it’s your neighbour’s lost UberEats driver? Yep, I feel you.

Enter the smart video doorbell. Whilst some are designed to be wired, there are options, which are battery operated, or slip into existing fittings like your door’s peephole.

Most smart doorbells let you check who is at the door and give them instructions, even when you’re not at home.

A simple “just leave the package there please” from your phone while you’re at work, means fewer trips to the post office. Plus, you have the piece-of-mind of knowing exactly who is lurking by your front door.

Renter-friendly video doorbells: Ring Door View Cam

4.Smart Security Cameras 

Speaking of security, you might want to go a step further and install a smart security camera. These record motion for you to playback or watch right away.

Hearing strange noises out the front of your house at 11.30 pm at night and don’t want to go outside to check? It’s easy to open the app and take a quick look. Odds are it’s probably your neighbour’s lost UberEats driver still trying to find the right house, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There’s a big array of smart cameras available in Australia today which don’t require changes to the wiring. They work for indoor & outdoor, with both battery & wifi options.

If you’re wanting to take the leap into a smart camera, check out this smart security post for some tips & tricks.

Renter-friendly Video camera: Ring Indoor Cam or Ring Stick Up Cam. These cams come in several variants including, battery & solar options.

5. Smart Motors for Roller blinds & shutters

As a renter, you’d think automating something like a blind or a shade would be near impossible. Yet the benefits of blinds that open automatically at daylight for a gentle wake up call is near priceless.

Now, there’s a clever add on that works to automate existing blinds and shades. It’s a ‘smart’ motor that drives the manual controls of your blinds & with a simple link to your smart assistant “Alexa, close the blinds” is only minutes away. To do this you’re looking for a motor like this.

This sort of “add-on” smart home tech are great for renters.

6. Smart Audio for Renters

A good sound system is a must have for any home, rental or not. Music makes atmosphere a given and adding a touch of the smarts will make your music experience that much greater.

There are a few ways to add smart audio to your home, which you can read all about smart home audio here.

No matter what you choose, smart speakers are portable & will go with you from rental to rental with ease.

7. Smart Smart Assistants

If you’ve read anything else around here, you’ll know that the heart of every smart home or the brain if you will, is your smart speaker/smart assistant.

A smart assistant will bring together your smart (rental) home through automating your music, lights, blinds or door bell that you’ve just made smart. These days, good smart speakers also double as a smart audio system which lets you cut the cost.

Most smart home technology doesn’t really live up to it’s full potential without an assistant to pull things together. From voice control to simple routines (“Alexa, evening mode”) that bring together your smart technology army, the addition of a smart assistant will make your home go from clumsy to seamless.

For a full guide on all of the features a smart assistant brings, check out this post on smart assistants/smart speakers

A Smart Home for Renters?

Yes, with the growth in available smart home technology in Australia, it’s now easier than ever for everyone to access – whether you’re a homeowner or a renter.

For renters, you can design a smart home solution that fits your budget and is as flexible as your lease – easy to pack up and take to your next property – no holes in the wall to patch up afterwards!

The Ultimate Smart Home Guide Australia