17 October 2021

As this year winds down, everyone seems to be starting to think about the Holidays. With Thanksgiving around the corner it also means Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But with this year’s challenges with supply chain, especially around electronics, the smart move may be not waiting though it may mean foregoing the deals in order to get what you’re looking for and to get it delivered in time.

This is a little painful for me as I look forward to this most years to pick up cool gifts and grab some things I’ve had my eye on for myself. Debbie on the other hand, Christmas shops all year long, picking up perfect or unique gifts for family and friends as she finds them.

One of the things I’ve had my eye on for a while now are lighting products from Nanoleaf. They’re one of those things that I find really compelling as there could be some really interesting applications in a home and look fun to work with. The hard part is dealing with my practical side that finds them difficult to justify like a Samsung Frame TV. The Frame looks like a picture frame that would hold your favorite painting when you’re not watching a movie or a football game. But when the TV goes off, the art turns on, sort of like a ‘screen saver.’

If you’re someone who considers themselves a bit of a designer or interior decorator, this might be the way you make your home look a little warmer and brighter, assembling a puzzle of light shapes. They can be vibrant and offer light when on, while looking more like some sort of artsy panels on a wall when off.

They can respond to sound and flash like a visual equalizer, or shuffle through color modes, and even hold a single color or brightness. And where these become ‘smart’ is that Nanoleaf lets you control this either by smart assistant — Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri — or you can use the app to do this, as well. They are also integrated with Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT.

Nanoleaf solutions come in a variety of options. They include lightstrips and bulbs but I’m talking here about their shaped panels and new Lines. The shaped panels come as ‘Panels’ (triangles), ‘Canvas’ (square) and ‘Shapes’ (triangles and hexagons). As you see, they come in a variety of options that aren’t the kind of thing most people need in a home, but they’re the kind of thing most people will love. Let’s say your giftee loves the color red; this allows them to light up sections of the room in that radiant warmth wherever they please. If they get tired of red, though, it’s just as easy for them to change to any other color.

Best of all, Nanoleaf products are straightforward to use, customizable and can be combined with other Nanoleaf packs for even more mood lighting in the room of your choice.

Nanoleaf introduced its latest smart lighting product recently with a slightly different departure from its existing products. The new Nanoleaf Lines are light bars that attach to each other at various angles, leaving wall space between the lights. Surprisingly, Nanoleaf has kept useful features and functions from prior products in the Lines, such as scenes, music visualization and Thread support.

A starter kit with 9 Lines will cost $199.99, while expansion packs that add 3 Lines are priced at $69.99. Pre-orders have already begun. The Nanoleaf products can seem a little pricey. Compared to the cost of art or sculpture, it’s probably nothing major, but I like the smart home angle and the creative options they introduce.

The Lines lightbars, measuring 11 inches long and 0.78 inches wide, can display more than 16 million colors but they’re not limited to a single color per Line. Each is dual-zone, so if you want to show two different colors on one Line, you can. The two colors are split evenly across the length of the bar.

The setup experience is fairly seamless. Once the power cord and wireless module is plugged in to an outlet, you use the Nanoleaf app (iOS and Android) to find the new lights. They automatically connect to your home’s wireless network using the 2.4GHz WiFi radio. You can then add the Lines to a room in your home technology plan.

As the Lines support Thread and are plugged into an outlet, they can act as a Thread Border Router. This lets the Nanoleaf Lines be a bridge between other Thread devices and your Wi-Fi network to get smart home device data to and from the internet.

After getting the Lines on your network, it was easy to ‘build’ lighting designs. In the Nanoleaf application, you can create a wireframe of your design, which makes it easy to see the end result without snapping and unsnapping Lines to the connectors. Even better, you can use an Augmented Reality function called Layout Assistant to see your work of art on any flat surface of your home.

Nanoleaf also includes a paper insert with various design options to get you started. And those options tell you how many Lines you’ll need for each design. Each of the connectors has double-sided foam tape to attach the Lines to your wall. The end of the power cord is a connector too, so you’ll want to use it at the end of your designed shape nearest an outlet. This connector also has buttons to control your Lines.

You can change brightness, switch between scenes, turn the Lines on or off, and enable music visualizations. The additional microphone module is required for the music feature and there are 22 different music genres for the visualizations. Nanoleaf offers a screen mirroring feature for your PC or TV to synchronize the lights with video output as well but this requires an HDMI connection.

You can also change the included scenes or augment them by downloading others. Plus you can schedule when your Lines go on or off or use automation triggers to light them up. In Apple’s Home app, all of the Nanoleaf scenes appear as events that you can trigger as well.

Although the Nanoleaf Lines and the original Nanoleaf lights are interesting, the practical side of me struggles with the cost. I think the product is great, but spending $200 or more for lights that are more decorative than functional just doesn’t work for me. I’d have to find the perfect application that doesn’t have other options. And so far I haven’t. Maybe if I had a gaming room or podcast studio. There are much cheaper options for most of the lighting other than the strictly artsy wall hung stuff.

What are your thoughts? Does this fit into a Man Cave or She Shed? If you received these as a gift where would you put them? Or return them to Best Buy? Let us know as you may come up with a great idea we can steal for the new house. Let us know in the comments, DMs and email as Debbie and I love to hear your point of view. Until next week …

SmartHomeOnTheRange.com

SmartHomeOnTheRange.com

In full disclosure, I’m not an affiliate marketer with links to any online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn nothing from the retailer. The links are strictly a convenience for my readers.

Seasoned professional sports information technology executive with a passion for out of the box solutions to complex challenges.