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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 & HVAC, Building Automation, Detection & 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.
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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.


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.

Their latest presence detector, thePixa uses KNX optical presence detectors and opens up further applications with a great deal of added value for building occupancy and management. More information about thePixa.

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.

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