Nanoleaf strip lights & bulb review

Please note, this is not my house. Anyway, I would never eat that much popcorn in one sitting.

A few years ago, my father-in-law had a relatively big TV (I think it was a Panasonic) and it had LED lighting either side which would bathe the wall behind it with a soft blue glow. I always thought it looked kind of cool.

Now, thanks to Nanoleaf’s new Essentials lightstrip starter kit, I now too have my Samsung TV emitting a soft blue glow – or purple or green or orange – and it does indeed look cool.

The lightstrip is part of Nanoleaf’s new Essentials range (there’s also a rhombicosidodecahedron shaped bulb: Try saying that three times after a few drinks) which range in price from $NZ50 to $NZ100.

Tripping the light fantastic …

The lightstrip comes in a 2m length, which you can cut to size (but only at designated points clearly marked) so chances are, like with my TV, the final length will either be too long or two short (you can’t reconnect the cut portions).

I had a bit of overlap at the edge of my TV so I had to get creative and ended up sticking it to the side a nearby gaming console (sorry Xbox Series X). You peel off a protective tape to reveal a 3M adhesive strip then press down firmly to make sure it sticks to the surface. It’s incredibly simple to set up.

There are 21 LEDs per metre in the lightstrip, clustered in groups of five, and they’re bright: Bright enough to cast a glow on the walls behind my TV. They work best affixed to a flat surface but I’ve had no problems so far with the slightly curved back of the TV .

The lightstrip has 21 LED bulbs per metre, providing plenty of illumination.

There’s a control box that controls the light strip that connects to the strip via a ribbon-type connection, which in turn connects to the power adapter. The remote is rather bulky and you can also attach it to a surface using 3M sticky pads. I just attached it to the back of the TV to get as clean a look as possible.

I hardly used the control box, to be honest: I connected to the smart bulb and light strip using Nanoleaf’s smart phone (iOS and Android) app which let me control everything. The lighting range is also compatible with Apple’s Home App and Google’s Assistant.

Nanoleaf’s smart phone app lets you control the Essentials range using your iOS or Android device.

Nanoleaf says the light strip can display 16 million plus colours, is thread enabled (an IP based wireless protocol supported by Apple, Google and Samsung but you need a compatible border router such as a Home Pod mini) and can be voice controlled. It’s rated at a maximum of 2200 lumens and has a lifespan of 25,000 hours.

I don’t have a thread enabled router so connected to the lights via my smartphone using bluetooth and there’s a slight delay changing colours when you first turn it on but it’s nothing that ruins the experience (and was much more noticeable on the smart bulb).

I was impressed how a simple light strip can add a bit more atmosphere to our lounge, especially at night when the only other light on in the room is a lamp. My wife likes it, too, which is a bonus.

I was watching Taskmaster UK not waiting for Meet the Spartans to start. Honest.

I haven’t managed to work out whether Nanoleaf is right in its claim the lightstrip can display 16 million+ colours which are changed using a colour wheel or pre-set tones. You can also adjust the colour temperature and brightness of the LEDs using the app.

Nanoleaf says that the Essentials range features a circadian lighting mode that automatically adjusts to the natural colour temperature of the room and sets different colour tones for morning, daytime and evening. You enter your location in the settings menu and the light syncs with the estimated sunrise and sunsets in your city. It’s a nice feature but I really didn’t notice much difference.

It comes in a bulb, too

I put the smart bulb into my bedside lamp and it emits a good amount of light – Nanoleaf says it has an average brightness of 806 lumens and maximum brightness of 1100 lumens – but I did have a bit of trouble connecting the bulb to my phone during the initial set up. It took a few attempts to get a stable connection.

When using bluetooth, there is a noticeable lag when you first connect to it and change colours. It rights itself but from time to time it’s there. For me, the light strip is the winner here but the smart bulb offers myriad options, especially if you have a few lamps around your home that you can work with.

The smart bulb adds a bit of pizzaz to night time lighting.

Overall, I was really impressed with Nanoleaf’s lightstrip: It’s sturdy and well made and offers excellent colour range and performance. I hear that Nanoleaf are planning more updates in future as it would be nice to be able to sync, say, the light strip to music like you can with Nanoleaf’s panels.

Both are great cost-effective options to add some colour – be it bright or subtle – to your lounge, gaming room or underneath your TV.

Nanoleaf shapes: Bright light fantastic

Up until this month, I have to admit I’d never heard of the company Nanoleaf but my interest was piqued when the company’s New Zealand PR firm contacted me, offering some of the company’s funky light panels for review.

Some quick Googling told me that Nanoleaf was founded by Gimmy Chu, Tom Rodinger and Christian Yan in 2012, with the aim of “shaking up the lighting industry” and before too long some of the company’s hexagon, large triangle and small triangle panels landed at my door.

We initially decided to set up the Nanoleaf shapes in the hallway. I’m not sure why we picked there but it had a blank wall so I thought “Why not?”

Caveat: I will admit to being quite nervous about attaching them to our textured wallpaper, though. The quick start guide advises quite clearly against attaching them to textured or porous sufaces, like wallpaper, and given how incredibly sticky the adhesive on the mounting plates was, I can see why.

Anyway, after a couple of hours of committee deliberations, which involved laying out pattern formations on the floor [I really recommend this before fixing them to the wall] then affixing them to the wall [you have to apply pressure for 30 seconds to ensure they stick], the panels were up.

The panels join to each other using small clips that have a contact point at each end and you can connect any panel to another panel: The only limit is your imagination.

Each hexagon panel has several connection points so you can pretty much lay them out in any orientation you want. There’s a controller that snaps to one of the connection points which lets you control the functions if you don’t want to use the smartphone app.

You attach the 42Wpower supply to one of the connection points and then to a power socket. Each power supply will support upto 21 panels, each using 2W of power. There’s a cable hanging down so my suggestion is placing the panels somewhere where you can hide the wire with, say, a piece of furniture.

The panels went up and they looked great. It was time for bed.

The next day, though, I decided to move the panels from the hallway to my games room/study, mainly because I worried overnight that one of them would peel off, ripping the wallpaper with it. I noticed how sticky they were when I slowly peeled the mounting plate off the wall and I could see the wallpaper puling away from the wall slightly. Slow is the order of the day when removing the plates.

They’re now in a less public area of the house – the games room/study – should there be a mishap with the wallpaper, which, for my sake, I hope doesn’t happen.

Up and running, the panels look really neat and you can control them completely using the smartphone app. You can change colours, brightness and sequence patterns using the app or the controller and you can even make your own pattern then save it.

Pre-programmed light patterns include one based on the Aurora Borealis and another one the brilliant blues of the Mediterranean sea and Nanoleaf says they can display 16+ million colours and they also respond to touch and sound.

At one point, I had my games room bathed in a kaleidescope of light, different colours pulsating across the simplistic pattern, as the video below shows.

The Nanoleaf panels retail for between $120 and $350, depending on the kit you buy [available in New Zealand from Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming, JB Hifi, MightyApe and PB Tech] and they’re a pretty neat piece of kit if you want to funk up that game space or any other room that needs a bit of colour.

They’d also be just the ticket if you’re a streamer. Just remember what I said about the wallpaper, right?

A big thank you to Nanoleaf’s New Zealand PR team for providing the panels for review. Good on ‘ya, mates.

Tripping the light fantastic

Smart lighting industry leader Nanoleaf has announced the launch of Shapes Triangles and Mini Triangles, the latest addition to the company’s Shapes line. 

The newest innovation from Nanoleaf features shape interoperability with Nanoleaf’s exclusive Connect+ technology, allowing users to connect different lighting shapes together, along with Hexagons, for the first time ever. 

“Nanoleaf’s vision for the Shapes Line is to give users the complete design freedom to create their most personal lighting experience yet. Smart lighting is about pushing the boundaries of possibility and that is exactly what we wanted to offer with our Shapes Line,” says Gimmy Chu, CEO and co-founder of Nanoleaf. 

Users will now have the modular freedom to create something simple by connecting multiples of one shape, or mix and match different shapes in new ways to create unique lighting mosaics. 

The Shapes line also has an improved snap-on mounting system for easier installation and redesign options. With Nanoleaf’s exclusive LayoutDetect Technology and over 16 million colours to choose from, users can paint their homes with organic colourways inspired by beautiful scenes of nature like the Aurora Borealis and brilliant blues of the Mediterranean sea.

Shapes Triangles and Mini Triangles have all of Nanoleaf’s classic features, including Screen Mirror, Rhythm Music Sync and touch-enabled experiences that allow you to transform your space with one single touch. The panels are wifi-controlled with the Nanoleaf App, manually with the physical controller and are also compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings.

True to the company’s commitment to make ease of use a top priority, the latest addition to the Shapes line will also include an update to Nanoleaf’s signature app. A new colour picker will help take the RGB experience to the next level and the new redesign will be much more intuitive, enabling users to perform any action without barriers.

Nanoleaf Shapes Line Triangles and Mini Triangles will be available to pre-order from today at Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming, JB Hifi, MightyApe and PB Tech. Kits will range from RRP $119.99 – $349.99.

Look out for a review of Nanoleaf’s Shapes on the site very soon.