In general, the term “Smart Home“ refers to a broad range of building technologies that connect different devices and functions. This comes with many benefits in everyday life: more comfort, more security, and less energy consumption. If you build your own home, you can of course integrate a complete KNX network from the very start. But that’s not the only way to enjoy the perks of home automation. In this article, we explain how rented apartments become smart – from Philips Hue and Amazon Alexa to Gira KNX RF.  

Smart Home in rentals: what’s possible? 

As a renter, you can remodel or renovate your living space under one main condition: all changes must be reversible in case you move out one day. This means that you’re not allowed to tear open walls to lay new cables or replace flush-mounted installations without the permission of your landlord. Under these conditions, you won’t get far with a wired KNX system. Luckily though, there are plenty of alternatives that require no extra cabling and can easily turn your apartment into a Smart Home.  

Retrofitting a smart apartment with Plug & Play  

Wireless networks rely on sensors, control units, and actors that communicate with each other. This can happen via Wifi, RF technology (short for radio frequency), or a Bluetooth connection. Many of these systems are based on the Plug & Play principle. In other words:  

Wireless networks rely on sensors, control units, and actors that communicate with each other. This can happen via Wifi, RF technology (short for radio frequency), or a Bluetooth connection. Many of these systems are based on the Plug & Play principle. In other words:  

 

  1. Plug the device into an outlet (unless it runs on batteries). 

  1. Configure your settings on your smartphone or computer and start “playing”.  

 

Should you move house one day, you don’t have to leave your smart apartment behind. Plug & Play solutions such as Philips Hue lights or Sonos speakers will be ready to go at your new place in a matter of minutes.  

Smart Home control in apartments  

Apart from apps, you can use voice assistants (e.g. Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant) to monitor and operate your system. They are quickly set up in rented flats and facilitate daily routines at every turn. You can for example dim your Philips Hue lights or activate entire scenes with a simple sentence such as “Alexa, lights down!”. The same goes for audio entertainment – your Sonos speakers will play your favourite music whenever you tell them to.   

Another convenient option for smart apartments: the wireless Friends of Hue switch, designed by Gira in collaboration with Senic. It requires neither cabling nor batteries, running on the power generated each time you press the switch. You don’t even have to mount it on the wall – it works just as well lying next to you on the table or anywhere else. With the Senic app, you can connect up to 50 different Philips Hue lamps and control them via Zigbee.   

Schalterarten, Senic Friends of Hue Smart Switch im Gira E2 Design
The Friends of Hue smart switch can be mounted on any surface – no cabling or batteries needed. Source: Senic

Gira System 3000: the starter pack for Smart Home renters 

If you’re looking for a solution that covers a several functions all in one, the wireless Gira System 3000 will do the trick. It enables you to operate your lights, blinds, and heating with the help of automated time schedules and a Bluetooth app. To install the system, the existing switch inserts are simply replaced by new ones. Your electrician will then mount the top units – along with the frame designs of your choice – onto the flush-mounted box.  

Via Bluetooth, you can connect your smartphone or tablet to your Gira System 3000 switches. The corresponding app allows you to configure individual time schedules and preferred settings for lights, blinds, and heating. Thanks to an integrated astro function, you can even synchronise your routines according to the natural course of the sun – so your smart apartment will know exactly when to raise or lower the shutters, for instance.  

Gira KNX RF: advanced Smart Home technology for apartments    

If you want to take living comfort one step further, there’s another wireless solution you should consider: the Gira KNX RF system doesn’t need any extra cabling either and can be installed without major renovation work. Rather than tearing walls open, you merely have to replace your inserts with those from the Gira System 3000. The Gira KNX RF top units are then mounted onto these inserts – and just like that, you will have turned your apartment into a Smart Home. The operating units (so-called Gira KNX RF pushbutton sensors) run on batteries, which means you can place them on virtually any surface.  

The Gira X1 mini server makes it easy to configure the system according to your individual preferences and routines. Via the Gira Smart Home app, you can then control a variety of functions from anywhere: check if all the lights are turned off, adjust the heating, or create and activate complex scenes.