Using SwitchBot smart products in a rental home has been a lifesaver

Switchbot Meter Plus

Scott Brown/Android Authority

In the summer of 2022, I moved across the US from Connecticut to California. I landed in a tiny two-bedroom rental house. The house itself was built by the owner as a project from the pandemic era. Since it’s a brand new build and I’m its first renter, he’s (understandably) quite home protective when it comes to alterations, care, and cleanliness.

While this isn’t really an issue for me, it does bother me smart home Little ambitions. Given how the house was designed – along with the owner’s watchful eye – I can’t really adjust much about it. Even hanging art requires a specific set of tools and screws to minimize wall damage. Most smart home items don’t require extensive home modifications, but some products do. Plus, investing in products specifically for this home is a waste of money because I most likely won’t need them wherever I end up next.

Fortunately, there are companies that focus on retrofitting smart products into existing homes. Among these, SwitchBot helps renters like myself create a smart home that can be installed temporarily and then easily removed and repurposed at a later time. I gave the products a shot on a whim and was very pleased with the results.

About this article: I tested SwitchBot Hub, Bot, Meter Plus and LED Light Strip for 1 month. Modules were provided by SwitchBot, but SwitchBot had no say in the direction or content posted.

Do you retrofit your rental home with smart home devices?

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What is retrofit?

SwitchBot on the espresso machine

Scott Brown/Android Authority

For renters looking to build a smart home, retrofitting is essential. As a simple example, installing a smart oven in a home you own is a great way to give your kitchen a stylish touch. However, doing so in a rented home may not be practical. In this case, modifying an existing oven is an easier, cheaper, and more owner-friendly way to get the smart home features you want.

You wouldn’t install a smart oven in a rental home. Modifying an existing furnace makes more sense.

The added advantage of retrofitting for renters is that you can take the products with you when you go and apply them at the next location. Going back to the smart oven example, why would you invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars installing a smart oven in a home you don’t own? Instead, you should invest in an inexpensive retrofit tool, and then, when you move, take the tool with you to your next home or apartment.

Retrofitting is the SwitchBot’s bread and butter. Here’s how I incorporate their products into my home.

SwitchBot Tools that I use in my house

Mini split air conditioner

Scott Brown/Android Authority

SwitchBot came to the scene with Switch bot, which is a small mechanical arm that can actually press a button on an existing device. The robot connects wirelessly to a hub, allowing you to issue a command from anywhere inside or outside the home.

As silly as it sounds, I have three of these in my house now: one on my printer, one on my gaming computer, and one on my espresso machine. I can now say, “Hey Google, turn on the gaming computer,” and the hub will tell the little robot to press the power button on the computer tower. This works in a similar way to a printer and espresso machine, neither of which are smart products.

The SwitchBot Bot uses a mechanical “finger” to press any button remotely or through a smart home voice command.

I could put a bot on all the appliance routes around my house if I were so inclined. My oven is already smart, but if it’s not, I can install a bot in there to turn it on and preheat it. Similarly, I can stick one on my washer and dryer, light switches, small appliances, game consoles, TVs – pretty much anything with a button on it.

SwitchBot also makes a digital temperature and humidity sensor called meter plus, as shown at the top of this article. This device monitors conditions inside my home and automatically adjusts my split mini AC unit accordingly using infrared (IR) blasts from the same hub that controls my robots. This is cool because my little partition is incredibly stupid – you can’t even turn it on/off at certain times! Fortunately, the Meter Plus—which is battery-powered and can be placed anywhere in my house or even moved from room to room—automates this without having to change the thermostat or even touch the mini-split.

I also tested Some smart light strips from SwitchBot. Because my house is so small, the light fixture takes up quite a lot of floor space. Similarly, the ceiling lights are all recessed and don’t use traditional bulbs, so converting them into smart lights would be very difficult and expensive. The SwitchBot’s light strips can go anywhere, like around my full-length mirror. Now the mirror is a smart light with no floor space used, no tools, no holes in the wall, and only $20 spent.

See also: The best budget devices for building a smart home for beginners

Unfortunately, the nature of the retrofit means that not everything in my current home can work. For example, I would like to have a file SwitchBot lock, which uses a mechanical motor to manually turn the powerful lock for your door, giving you a smart door lock. However, my front door is an odd design that requires pulling the handle up to lock it, so the SwitchBot solution isn’t compatible with it. I will also be all over SwitchBot 2 curtain rod, which opens and closes horizontal blinds by rolling along the bar. However, my house doesn’t have curtains, so this is another product I can’t use.

There are a couple of new SwitchBot products coming soon, though I have my eye on them.

SwitchBot at CES 2023: More retrofit solutions

SwitchBot logo

Scott Brown/Android Authority

in CES 2023the SwitchBot booth had two new products, and we’re both excited to get them.

The first is SwitchBot Blind Tilt. This clever gadget attaches to the rod that you turn to tilt the blinds. It turns it on for you and supports all other SwitchBot smarts. This will enable me to open or close the blinds with a voice command or have them open/close automatically based on the temperature in the house, time of day, or many other variables.

SwitchBot Hub 2 will combine three devices in one, and Blind Tilt will turn “dumb” blinds into smart blinds.

The other new product is the SwitchBot Hub 2. This capable of matter It is actually three products in one. It replaces the hub I already use as well as the Meter Plus. It also includes a file Smart button, which I can program to perform any number of functions or routines. Plus, since it’s Matter-capable, I can also use it to control other products that aren’t SwitchBot-based — once Matter becomes more ubiquitous, anyway.

If you are a renter, I highly recommend keeping an eye on what SwitchBot does. Replacing your home’s curtains, blinds, lights, door locks, and appliances with smart products can be great for homeowners, but renters need cheaper, less permanent solutions. A modified device might make your life easier and save you some cash.

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