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It’s hard to beat the convenience of having a smart home connected to high-tech tools you can control remotely or even operate by voice.
But let’s face it: It’s a lot easier to create a fully automated home when you own it. When you’re renting, your property owner likely won’t appreciate you drilling into walls, removing walled-in wires, or replacing the furnace.
So what’s the best home tech for renters? Here are a few small gadgets that can make a big difference in your apartment.
Every smart home setup should start with some sort of smart assistant. These devices can do it all, from controlling other connected devices and answering questions on demand to performing simple tasks like running kitchen timers or playing music.
Smart assistants are so common today that you might already have one. But are you using it to its fullest potential?
To get the full effect out of your assistant, build your apartment around it. If you have the Google Nest Hub or the Amazon Echo, for example, you can connect any of the other items on this list, as well as your Spotify account and photo albums, to truly automate your pad. No more need for separate remotes or accounts—with a smart assistant, you can control your entire apartment or condo with a simple voice command.
And the best part? You can take your assistant with you when you move.
Remember that you don’t have to buy all your home tech at once; you can add one component at a time and expand your smart apartment at your own pace.
No property manager is going to let you rewire an apartment, so how can you remotely control devices like lights, game consoles, or appliances?
The answer: smart plugs.
The TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini simply plugs into a wall outlet—no wiring needed. You can control any device plugged into the smart plug from your Nest, Alexa, or smartphone app. For a more elaborate setup, you can get a Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip, which is a smart power strip that lets you independently control every device that you plug into it, set up schedules, and monitor your energy usage. A voice-controlled plug that feeds you data? Who knew!
There are lots of ways to make your apartment smart, but one of the most rewarding upgrades available is adding smart lights to ceiling and lamp fixtures throughout your place. Smart lights are the type of device you’ll use every day and grow to rely on like no other accessory.
Your best bet is the Philips Hue Starter Kit, which includes a couple of bulbs and a hub. You connect the hub to your home’s WiFi network—it just sits on a shelf, no wiring needed—and it acts as a control center connecting your Philips light bulbs to your smart home network. You can command them by voice (using a smart assistant) or use the Hue app on your phone to automate lights so that they greet you when you come home and turn off when the apartment is empty.
Keys are so last century. With a smart door lock, your smartphone becomes an electronic key that locks and unlocks the front door. The accompanying app lets you give apartment access to other people, too, such as babysitters or friends.
The August Smart Lock Pro is one of the coolest smart locks around, largely because it can sense your arrival and unlock as you approach the porch. There’s no need to even find your phone and fiddle with an app. And unlike many smart locks, this one is apartment-friendly. It installs on the inside of your door over your existing deadbolt, so you don’t need to change the outer lock or key. When it’s time to move, you can simply remove the smart lock from the deadbolt.
Forget about traditional security systems that rely on hardwiring components around the house or installing a control panel. You can install a smart alarm system like Google Nest Secure without so much as a screwdriver. Door and window sensors are optional, since the primary security is provided by a motion sensor that sits somewhere in the room. It’s the perfect protection for apartment living.
Finally, a smart doorbell like the Ring 2 sends notifications to your phone when someone approaches the front door or rings the doorbell. If you sign up for the cloud storage option, you have a record of visitors and can spot porch pirates. The Ring can be wired directly into the doorbell wiring, but that’s not essential—you can instead rely on the rechargeable battery for the same perks.
Remember that you don’t have to buy all your home tech at once; you can add one component at a time and expand your smart apartment at your own pace. Just be sure you’re starting with a solid WiFi network so that all your devices can talk to one another. And when you move, pack up your gadgets and set them up in your new digs to make your next home just as smart.
Issues with your smart home tech? Perhaps devices aren’t working together correctly? Subscribe to an unlimited tech support plan at Support.com TechSolutions to connect with Tech Pros who are experts at troubleshooting devices in the smart home.