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House trained.

Your expert guide to the best smart home technology out there.
By Justin Kerby Jun 10, 2022

Smart home technology is evolving at a rapid pace, with quite literally thousands of products and upgrades to consider, from lighting to audio and everything in between. 

There’s no one way to make a house a home, so we’ve brought in one of Canada’s leading home automation experts to help guide us through some home improvement projects that may make you feel at home in yours.

 

Words from the wise.

 

Mark Lei

 

Mark Luongo is the Principal Electrician and Owner of Luongo Electric, servicing Greater Vancouver since 2016. After a majority of his work shifted from general electrical to focusing on smart homes, Mark started a division of the business dedicated to smart home technology, called Alina Luxury. Mark consults with designers, architects, contractors and homeowners across the province to help ensure that their home automation needs are met. In other words, he’s the perfect guide for this particular real estate adventure. 

 

Now trending.

 

What are the latest trends you’re seeing in smart home technology?  

Mark Luongo: The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a game-changer in the smart home industry. The notion of “smart homes” has been around for a really long time, but in the past, home automation has always required many (and I mean many) hours of complex programming to be up to snuff. The Internet of Things has changed all that. It’s become widely adopted by many platforms and developers, and it makes turning your home into a smart home much easier. Lighting control, voice control, home audio and automated shades are a few of the categories that we see the most interest in, from a demand perspective.

 

Alina Luxury

 

Bright idea. 

 

Lighting control isn’t new in the world of home automation, having first entered people’s homes (mostly the rich and famous) in the 1950s. But the leap it has made in the last ten years has been staggering. Before, lighting control was only really considered in the most luxurious homes, but now it’s available and affordable for the masses. 

 

Alina Luxury 2

 

What are the best smart lighting systems? 

Mark Luongo: Unlike some of the other smart home technologies, there’s a clear answer in my view when it comes to the best lighting control systems. That system is made by Lutron, which has a variety of different system infrastructures to suit any budget and home. From one-bedroom apartments to the largest mansions imaginable, we think Lutron is the most reliable lighting control system on the market today. 

 

Lutron 1

Lutron 2

 

How does it work? 

Mark Luongo: With a smart lighting system, we can program lighting to become a natural part of your day. It’s not just on or off anymore, and it’s a whole lot more than just being able to control your lights from your phone. Lutron systems are intuitive so you can truly experience the most comfortable lighting at any time of the day, whether you want your lighting to recharge you, relax you, or match the sunlight provided outside throughout the day. 

 

The sound of music. 

 

The rooms of your house probably look a bit different from each other. You probably wouldn’t put subway tile in your bedroom. They shouldn’t all sound the same, either. If Grandpa wants to listen to Scottish bagpipe music in the den, should the rest of the house have to suffer?

 

sonos

 

What are the best smart-sound systems? 

Mark Luongo: Similar to controlled lighting, home audio was another feature that for a long time was only considered in luxury homes. We used to have rooms dedicated to amplifiers, and that was a costly expense. You might have heard of Sonos, they’re a huge brand but they still probably don’t get enough credit for how much they’ve reshaped the landscape, in my opinion. Their team really changed the game in the field of home audio systems when they unveiled their plug-and-play wifi speaker system. Now you can easily build a whole home audio system piece by piece. 

Sonos 2

 

How does it work? 

Mark Luongo: Sonos lets you sync multiple speakers through their app, which gives you the freedom to set things up for your environment. You can create home theatre surround sound in one room and have small individual speakers throughout the rest of the house. With a touch of the button (or a voice command) you can fill your home with the same music, or have everyone listening to their own favourites. At my house, it’s typically Metallica in dad’s office and Taylor Swift everywhere else. 

 

Listen up. 

 

What are the best voice control systems?

Mark Luongo: Virtual assistants are everywhere now. One of our favourites in the category is Josh.ai. The main reason we recommend Josh is because it’s focused on your privacy while also being developer-friendly. It works with most manufacturers to create a truly smart home. It’s a reliable source of AI we recommend often. 

 


 

Throw shade. 

Whether you’re looking to keep the heat in or the sun out, automated shades are one of the hottest ticket items for smart home projects. It’s hard not to want these in your home once you see them in action. 

 

What are the best-automated shades?

Mark Luongo: We love Lutron’s automated shades for a lot of reasons. They’re the most reliable, and they also integrate with your lighting control system, which means you can now control both your artificial and natural lighting seamlessly. Lutron is the only manufacturer with Hembar Alignment Technology - which is a complicated way of saying that all of your shades move at the exact same speed, regardless of their sizes. They also make the quietest drives on the market by a long shot. Anyone upgrading from another automated shade to Lutron will notice the lack of noise they make right away. 

 


 

Moving on. 

 

There’s an endless amount of smart home upgrades you can make to your home. When you’re considering your options, try to focus on the improvements that you’ll enjoy for the long term. You don’t have to love your house when you move in, but the goal is to have a hard time saying goodbye. That’s how you know you’ve made the journey worthwhile. 

 

Justin Kerby
Justin Kerby is the founder of Something Great, a digital marketing agency that specializes in real estate branding and content creation. They help companies create social media strategies, newsletters, blog content plans, and advertising campaigns.
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