100 years of Theben

It all started in 1921 with the first Schwenk time switch

for staircases to stop lightsbeing on all the time. The first Theben energy-saving product was born and in 1930 this led to the development of the successful ELPA automatic time switch.

A lot of rumours have grown up around this name since then: Are they the initials of his two children Ellen and Paul? Or is it the abbreviation for “Electrical Pendulum Automatic device”? Whatever the answer: ELPA has become synonymous with high-quality staircase time switches and it still plays an important role today.

Historie: Zeitschaltuhren
Historie: Übersicht Prospekte
Historie: 3-Minuten-Schaltuhr 1921

“Use your time well, it passes so quickly!“

In 1928 Paul Schwenk had this quote from Goethe’s Faust displayed in the reception area of the company building at Reinsburgstraße 103 in Stuttgart. 30 employees worked here on five floors producing staircase timers and time switches. The concept of energy-saving staircase lighting occupied Paul Schwenk with his 1917 masterpiece. He developed a “3-minute switch for staircase lighting”. He was ready by 1930:  The first ELPA automatic time switch with pendulum and mercury tube contact went into full production. The start of an incredible success story: With over 30 million devices sold, the ELPA has become synonymous with staircase time switches.

Historie: 1944 Stuttgart - Haigerloch

Paul Schwenk was a convinced democrat and was opposed to the Third Reich. He purchased a house in the country to escape the attentions of the Gestapo in Stuttgart. He struck gold in Haigerloch. The former Rose restaurant underwent extensive conversion to become the new company headquarters. After the death of Paul Schwenk in 1944 and the currency reform of 1948, his son Paul Eberhard Schwenk took over the rebuilding of the company. The family company quickly picked up again. Orders came in and new faces, such as the future managing director Werner Herl, joined the established workforce.

Space was gradually at a premium in the Rose so a start was made on a new building on Hohenbergstraße. The components production (press shop, drilling and turning) transferred first, followed by other production areas after the new building was extended. The whole Theben workforce was finally brought together under one large and modern roof in Hohenbergstraße in 1970.

Innovation from passion

A successful family company combines the best of tradition and innovation. Over the past almost 100 years, the founding families of Herl and Schwenk have established a tradition of developing innovative products addressing all aspects of energy efficiency and comfort. Here’s a look at the innovations and patents that have been achieved so far:

From Haigerloch to the world

What started as a family company in Stuttgart under Paul Schwenk and his wife Lydia in 1921 has become a globally-successful company in the area of time and light control, climate control and KNX building systems technology.


  • 1971: Founding of Theben S.a.r.l., the company’s first international distribution company, in France.
  • 1973: Further expansion of the production facilities in Haigerloch as a result of the founding of PEZET GmbH, a subsidiary company for die and plastics technology.
  • 1992: Founding of the Italian sales subsidiary Theben S.r.l. in Milan.
  • 1996: The takeover and founding of the Timeguard Ltd subsidiary in London sees Theben invest in sales and distribution in Great Britain.
  • 2001: The company also becomes more involved in the area of OEM solutions with the establishment of the sales and marketing department tts – theben technical systems.
  • 2007: The takeover of High Technology Systems AG, Switzerland (HTS) – the inventers of the presence detector – leads to Theben (Switzerland) AG becoming Theben HTS AG.
  • 2008: Theben enters the smart metering sector, becoming the first and only company to be able to offer a gateway certified to PTB-A 50.7.
  • 2010: The company’s commitment to the Asian market develops significantly and a branch opens in Singapore.
  • 2013: The founding of a branch in Holland in 2013 significantly boosts the company’s presence there.
  • 2017: Four at one go! Theben sets up branches and subsidiaries in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Australia.
  • 2018: Smart-Home-System LUXORliving
  • 2020: BSI certification for the Smart Meter Gateway CONEXA 3.0 Performance
Hitorie: OBELISK Theben
Das Theben Produktionsgebäude in Haigerloch