Indoor lighting has gone from functional to fun over the past few years, whether it’s just screwing in a few smart bulbs or adding some complicated, colorful effects that can change the mood of your home. Nanoleaf is one of many companies to move forward with innovative and colorful smart lighting products, and its latest offering – the $ 199 Nanoleaf lines – might just be the most entertaining yet.
The lines join Nanoleaf’s growing catalog of LED wall panels in various sizes and shapes, this time adding a new trick: backlighting. Available for pre-order now and on sale November 8, these are ultralight LED light bars with two-color zones where each zone is capable of displaying one of 16 million RGB colors. They can be mounted on the wall or ceiling and can go from a calming sunset scene to an intense nightclub look (with throbbing movement) with just the push of a button (or a voice command).
While the previous version of Nanoleaf, the elegant wood-look Elements panels, was an evolution towards a more traditional interior design, the Lines are a throwback to the company’s main audience: those who want a futuristic vibe in their living space. life. They are ideally suited to be installed behind a gaming monitor or large screen TV where you can tie them to Nanoleaf’s screen mirroring capabilities (but you will need to use a computer for this integration).
The most notable feature of Lines over Nanoleaf’s other wall light options is that they are backlit. Combined with a nominal 20 lumens per line (a new configuration generates 180 lumens), they can work as ambient lighting behind a computer screen as they won’t likely blind you when you accidentally turn them on at full brightness a morning (I speak from experience).
As an ambient lighting option, they are feature rich, with 19 scenes preloaded in the Nanoleaf companion app, including standard smart lighting modes such as Reading, Warm White and Daylight, and modes fun that take advantage of all these colors. My family enjoyed the Blood Dripping option this past Halloween, and the Prism and Raspberry Lemonade scenes were also favorites for their fun bursts of color. Despite options like Reading, however, these won’t work for task lighting – they just don’t give off enough light.
Most scenes have a motion setting where the lights cycle through different patterns, and some have a rhythm setting that uses a built-in microphone to vibrate the lights in time with the music being played. Both of these effects are impressive, with smooth movements, a seamless mix of colors, and no unsightly stuttering or flickering.
It’s also possible to create your own scenes, but setting one up is tricky and in my testing they never seemed to perform as well as the pre-built ones. I preferred to lean on the many other Nanoleaf owners who have mastered the overly complicated app and have uploaded scenes that I can upload to the lights.
Unlike recent Nanoleaf panels, the lines are not capacitive touchscreen, so you can’t use them as smart home buttons or play games on them, but they do have a Thread radio inside and can act as a Thread Border router. This means they should integrate smoothly with the new interoperability standard for smart homes Matter when it arrives next year. In the meantime, Lines can serve as a hub for Nanoleaf’s Essentials lighting, which consists of smart A19 bulbs and standard light strips.
All of Nanoleaf’s products work with Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, as well as SmartThings and IFTTT. This allows you to control them with your voice and add them into automations or routines.
I added a Vibrant Sunrise scene to my Alexa Good Morning routine. So when I say Good Morning to the assistant, the lines mimic a natural, gradual sunrise with red and orange hues, turning yellow and white. I also tried a few programs in the Nanoleaf app, including one that goes to Tuscany Sunset at 7 p.m., gradually increasing the brightness over 10 minutes, then turning off three hours later. It all worked reliably and accurately, and I didn’t have any connectivity issues during my testing (lines connect to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi).
The modular design of the lines makes them better at filling a white wall with fewer parts than Nanoleaf’s other options, which also means it’s cheaper to create a complete design. You can connect up to 18 lines per feed and you get nine lines for $ 200, compared to seven forms for the same price.
The connectors give you a choice of six angles, and you can easily cover a small wall with nine or 12 pieces (a starter kit comes with nine, the add-on for $ 70 has three). With the Elements and Shapes options I tested before, it would take about 10-14 (depending on size) to fill a similar space.
This brings me to their biggest downside – the price. The cheapest of Nanoleaf’s decorative wall lights (and a good deal compared to the price you would pay for a piece of art to fill a large wall), $ 200 for LED light bars is still a tough sell. You can buy smart LED light strips for under $ 30 and get a somewhat similar effect. Also, if you don’t like the look of the white bars on your wall when you haven’t turned them on, you have to pay an extra $ 20 for nine “skins” (pink or black) to dress them up.
The lines look good when off – not as good as the Elements panels, which have a faux wood look like a wood carving on the wall – but quite good because the design is more distinctive against a wall (assuming not painted white) than Nanoleaf’s other panels, which have a more “white plastic stain” aesthetic when turned off.
If you decide to splurge, installing Nanoleaf Lines is surprisingly easy. Really, the hardest part is deciding which model to use. While Nanoleaf has made repositioning relatively easy if you change your mind, painting your wall probably won’t be as nice, and unlike larger panels, the lines won’t cover any mistakes if you get it wrong.
It is best to first arrange your design on the floor or on a table, then to transpose it carefully. Nanoleaf has lots of handy suggestions in the box and a virtual viewer in the app that lets you design a design in the app and see how it will look on your wall.
Placing them on the wall is simple; the lines are thin plastic bars with a triangular tip that snap into a six-slot hex connector. Place a connector on the wall using the supplied double-sided tape and snap the line (s) into it.
You can also mount them to the ceiling, and they’re super light, but Nanoleaf recommends using screws to secure them (sold separately). In all scenarios, you’ll need to provide a nearby power outlet and find a way to fit the nearly 15-foot cable into your setup.
Unfortunately, the connector is a different design than Nanoleaf’s Shapes and Canvas panels, so you can’t tie them to an existing setup you have, which sort of kills all of Nanoleaf’s modular lighting. They added the ability to bypass turns which could be pretty cool but you have to buy special connectors for that.
If you are looking for a way to add fun and vibrant futuristic colors to a playroom, living room, bedroom or other space, Nanoleaf lines are a great option. Yes, you can buy LED light strips for $ 30 and get a somewhat similar effect, but they are very well designed making it easier to get a more interesting and eye-pleasing design which is more characteristic. that light fixture. With a two-year warranty and future-proof smart home tech inside, they’re also likely to last you a lot longer.
Photograph by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / TechToSee