Theben is one of the world’s leading providers of intelligent solutions for the automation of homes and buildings and the responsible use of natural resources. They employ over 1000 people directly and hundreds more with an export rate of 64% and supply chains all over the globe. 100% quality control remains at the factory in Germany. They are a modern, successful family-owned business with a focus on Controls and HVAC, Building Automation, Detection and Lighting, and Smart Energy Metering. Theben is recognized as a global leader in dimmers for LED lighting.

Theben is a founding member of the KNX association - the fieldbus for building automation. KNX resulted from merging the European organisations EIBA, EHSA, and BCI, which strived for a common standard off the back of the existing field buses. Today, KNX is the global standard for house and building automation (ISO/IEC 14543). Theben joined the association as one of the first members, and as a member of the Executive Committee, we actively influence the development of KNX technology. Since 2015, Theben is also a member of the KNX Technology Committee. In 2019, Theben was the first manufacturer to introduce KNX wireless actuators according to the Data Secure Standard.

Theben History

Theben GmbH is a family company founded in Black Forest of Germany in 1921. They started out making electrical time switches, which, along with motion sensors, have been off-the-shelf products ever since.   

The story begins with a postcard that Paul Schwenk sent to his parents to tell them about the “factory” he had founded in 1920. The message was cryptic but the idea was a good one. However, Schwenk did not register the company he would go on to name Theben until 1921. Theben is the German name for the city of Thebes, paying homage to ancient Egyptians and their ability to measure time. The company‘s first registered office was a painter‘s workshop that belonged to Schwenk‘s father-in-law. In a sense, Theben started life as a garage business – or, as we like to say nowadays: a start-up.

There is no one left who knows for sure where Paul Schwenk got his initial idea for a time switch from. Perhaps the master clockmaker, who was born in the Swabian town of Heidenheim in 1889, simply got tired of seeing the lights blazing away on Stuttgart‘s staircases every evening. Whatever the reason, he definitely objected to it – whether because of his natural frugality or his visionary perspective. The product he developed, the mechanical time switch, marked the beginning of modern building automation and was an early expression of environmental sustainability.

The time switch Paul Schwenk introduced in 1921 was followed by the first ELPA automated staircase switch in 1927. He probably named this after his children by taking the initial syllables from their names: Ellen and Paul. Or it may have been an abbreviation of the German term Elektrischer Pendel Automat [electrical pendulum device]. ELPA is still going strong today. By the end of the 1950s, the “Luna” twilight switch was truly innovative and the first product of its kind not to require mechanical movement.

Theben has come a long way from being a small “gadget factory” to becoming a modern international technology company. Initially specialising purely in mechanics in the pre-war and war years, the firm became more of an electronics specialist during Germany‘s economic boom years and the period after. At the beginning of the 1980s, Theben entered the world of digitalisation. Since 1992, the company has been one of the driving forces in the area of KNX – the open standard for building automation. That still holds true today – and will continue to do so as KNX has become indispensable.

Supplier Comment

“Working for Theben has shown me the importance of a strong team and a commitment to excellence. It is also the reason that Theben works closely with Ivory Egg as they have the same values, at both the company level and on a personal basis. I know the importance of great products with great support, and Theben, with Ivory Egg, bring them both to you exactly when and where you need them.”  -  Paul Foulkes (Theben UK)

Ivory Egg Comment

Theben are a key supplier to Ivory Egg, with stand-out products in their sectors of KNX actuators and sensors.  Their commitment to the global market is underpinned by a strong company culture to support integrator success. Theben's amazing engineers bring great products to market

Theben logo

More Theben Products

Theben produce a wide range of actuators and motion sensors with up-to-date features and functions that make life easier for the installer, and the control better for the building. With their own VDE test laboratory, all their products are tested to the highest global standards.


Theben produce stand-out KNX actuators for high-density switching, dimming, and shading control. Their actuators are highly reliable and enable manual control for pre-commissioning testing and screen terminals for easy connection.  Theben's zero-crossing and inrush management make their LED lighting relays long-lasting. Their heating actuators for underfloor and fancoil applications are packed with intelligent functions that make installation and integration a breeze.

Weather Stations

The Theben Meteodata weather stations are made with clear plastic, helping them blend into the built environment.  With measurement for wind speed, temperature, 3 x brightness, and rain, the sensors know with GPS the time of day and location, so can accurately control multi-facade shading.


The wide range of Theben's motion and presence sensors means there is the right sensor for every application, from wide-open spaces like classrooms, to corridors where long thin beams of detection are necessary, to presence detection in rooms to keep lights on whilst people are working.

The company acquired the swiss sensor company HTS who pioneered the PIR motion sensor and has remained at the forefront of the technology introducing new products that push forward the use of sensors into a wide range of applications.

Theben presence detectors provide every option for energy-efficient and intelligent lighting control. In addition to lighting control in offices and public buildings, you can also control heating and air-conditioning based on presence. This lets you save energy costs and reduce CO2 emissions. Presence detectors react to the slightest of movements and measure room brightness at the same time. If no movement is detected, or a defined brightness value is exceeded, the presence detector automatically switches off or dims the light.

Presence detectors work with the same principle as motion detectors: They detect thermal radiation in their surroundings. If thermal radiation is detected in the detection area, the detector converts the radiation into a measurable electric signal, and the light is switched on. The difference between motion and presence detectors lies in the sensitivity of the sensors. Presence detectors have more sensitivity than motion detectors and detect the smallest movements with the detection area divided evenly into 1000 zones. Like a chessboard, the zones run through the entire detection area. Even slight changes in the thermal image, such as typing on the keyboard in an open-plan office will be detected. In contrast, a motion detector only responds to greater changes in the thermal image and is suited for applications with larger, walking movements or outdoor use.

A further difference between motion and presence detectors: light measurement. A motion detector measures brightness once when the light is switched on because of movement. If it continues to detect movements, even though daylight would be sufficient, the light remains switched on unnecessarily. In contrast, presence detectors constantly measure brightness: if a defined value is exceeded, the presence detector switches the light off, even if it detects movement. This further reduces energy costs and CO2 emissions.

Due to very fine sensor technology, Theben presence detectors react to the smallest movements and temperature differences. This allows you to adjust lighting and air conditioning to the exact needs of occupants. Depending on the model, Theben presence detectors are available in black, white, grey, silver or special colours on request.

Unique Features of Theben Detectors:

Square Detection Areas

As most rooms are square or rectangular, Theben sensors use a square detection area to simplify planning. The detection areas can be lined next to each other with no gaps. Another practical benefit is no "blind spots" or overlaps in the room. Movements are guaranteed to be detected everywhere.

Self-Learning Time Delay

The time delay changes automatically depending on people's habits in the room. If the presence detector detects more movement, the time delay is shortened to as little as two minutes. If people hardly move or only rarely, the time delay is increased to up to 20 minutes. This saves energy, boosts comfort, and allows people to work the way that suits them.

Sensitive Room Monitoring

A presence detector misses nothing. This is an advantage when the presence detector is integrated in the building system technology of large office or administration buildings. Building management know if rooms are still occupied.

Safe Staircase Light Function

In the event of a short stay, the light is only on for two minutes. But because presence detectors can detect how long someone is a space, it does not automatically trigger a time delay. This is critical for applications where sensors are used in stairways.

Custom Lighting Scenarios

Bright daylight or softly dimmed light – choose between two lighting scenarios, which can easily be defined. For example, in conference rooms when the light has to be dimmed for presentations. Settings can be made, saved, and changed easily using remote control.

Practical Pulse Function

The pulse function allows Theben presence detectors to be built into existing automation installations with timer switches or KNX binary inputs without expensive adjustments.

Intelligent Parallel Switching

Via master/master/parallel switching operations, the lighting conditions can be set for the detection area of devices individually. This is an advantage in open-plan offices when different lighting conditions are balanced between areas close to windows and the room's interior.

IP Rated for wet protection

Presence and motion detectors with protection class IP 54 can be used in wet rooms such as showers, changing rooms or toilets.

High-Capacity Switching

Presence and motion detectors from Theben have a high-performance relay with tungsten pre-contact or a zero-cross switching and can handle switch loads of up to 10 amperes. This allows several lights to be connected and larger areas to be lit. This provides peace of mind during planning, lowers costs and reduces installation time.

DALI Intelligent Lighting Control

Thanks to outstanding detection quality, sophisticated functions and exceptionally easy commissioning and programming, presence detectors and sensors from Theben are the discerning customer’s devices of choice. When combined with intelligent lighting management via the DALI bus system, they really come into their own. 

One Line for Three Groups

Control two to three lighting groups with a single DALI line. This means fewer lines and reduces the amount of time and money spent on installation. No rewiring is required if any changes are made later on.

Safety from Orientation Light

In buildings such as hotels or hospitals, an orientation light enhances the feeling of safety. If movement occurs, the lighting is dimmed up to the setpoint value and then back down to the level of the orientation light after a defined time delay

DALI 2 presence sensors

Perfect light management can be achieved with a master controller and presence sensors. The DALI-2 standard ensures compatibility across manufacturers. This allows the DALI-2 presence sensors to be operated with any Multimaster-Application-Controller that complies with IEC 62386 Parts 101/104. As an input device, the presence sensor provides information regarding presence detection and light measurements in accordance with IEC 62386 Part 303 or Part 304 via the DALI bus. The master controller oversees full functionality such as switching, constant lighting control, fully/semi-automatic, manual override, scenes, etc. The DALI-2 presence sensors also support remote control commands for dimming or switching lamps, controlling blinds or other functions. 

Planning Security

As a member of the European association and quality label sensNORM, Theben is committed to greater transparency, quality and planning certainty for motion and presence detectors in building automation. Products carrying the sensNORM quality label have been tested in line with standardised test specifications, allowing consumers to make a genuine cross-brand comparison. The measuring method ‘sensNORM’ has established itself as an industrial standard and was included in the European standard IEC 63180. The measured detection areas according to sensNORM can be found in the data sheets of our respective products.

Free Planning Software

Customers wishing to position, use and control the light correctly from the start will benefit from Relux light simulation, which is free of charge. Relux offers professional planning software for development and implementation of complex lighting control tasks. The software for planners, architects and light designers is based on lighting solutions from various manufacturers and is valued by users around the globe. Theben is a Relux member in the sensors product group.

Specialist KNX Optical Detectors

For decades, classic Presence detectors with passive infrared technology have controlled the lighting and indoor climate of many rooms in a sustainable and energy-efficient manner. They detect people accurately and reliably based on their body heat and movements. Theben’s new pixel-based detection technology of ‘thePixa’ KNX optical presence detector opens up further applications with enhanced value, extending far beyond the scope of PIR presence detectors which includes:

  • Counting objects and people
  • Privacy compliance
  • Triggering KNX building automation functions
  • Easy programming via the app

Theben’s Wide Range of Detectors for Any Application:

  • KNX thePixa
  • KNX thePrema
  • KNX theRonda
  • KNX thePassa
  • KNX PlanoSpot
  • KNX PresenceLight
  • KNX theLuxa
  • KNX theMova
  • DALI theRonda
  • DALI thePassa
  • DALI thePrema
  • DALI PlanoSpot

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