Nanoleaf Lines review: Awesome RGB smart lighting with a killer price
Nanoleaf Lines Review
As working from home becomes the new “work” normal these days, many have turned to home improvements to either inject more of their personality or simply making the space more practical at their work spots.
While purchasing an ergonomic chair, a standing desk or a larger monitor serve a practical purpose, there’s also a growing interest, especially among adult gamers and geeks, in jazzing up their work desk, study or even the entertainment area with indoor lighting. And that’s what Nanoleaf is banking on.
For the uninitiated, Nanoleaf is a company specialising in LED lighting and has been around for a decade now – the company started in 2012 and launched its first two products with crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter. The company recently launched their latest offering, the Lines, and sent a Smarter Kit (really a Starter Kit) over my way for review – and just in time for my own mini-makeover of my study room too.
All the lines
The Lines is the company’s first set of modular backlit LED light bars that lets you customise to your heart’s delight – down to each bar. That said, Nanoleaf also has some other great products and if you’re big on indoor lighting and RGB stuff, I highly recommend you have a look at their website.
Anyway, I digress.
The Lines works by having multiple light bars that are attached to connectors in a 60-degree angle. The Smarter Kit comes with nine light bars, or what Nanoleaf calls Light Lines, the same number of mounting hexagonal-shaped connectors, and a connector that doubles as a processor and power unit for the light system. These can be mounted on your walls or ceilings.
Each Light Line on its own is close to 28cm long so nine bars from one Smarter Kit can fill up a wall in a study room quite substantially too.
Setting up the Lines is straight-forward and easy, depending on the design you have in mind. The Smarter Kit doesn’t even come with instructions (a QR code points you to an online documentation) and all the parts are, for lack of a better word, fool-proof. The only consideration, and this is key, is making sure to have a design in mind beforehand, and then lay out the light bars on the floor or table to give you a visual of how it might look.
Because you can attach up to six light bars to each of the hexagonal connectors, you can create any geometric shapes of different combinations. There are a couple of limitations with this design though. You cannot achieve square-rish style, nor can you design a combination that breaks the hexagonal shape – as each light bar is attached to its corresponding connector at a 60-degree angle.
Nanoleaf also has an accompanying app for both iOS and Android devices, which comes with a Layout Assistant that offers design ideas if you’re not feeling inspired.
Once you’ve decided on a design, the next step is to peel off the adhesive on the back of each connector and assemble your new light system onto the wall or ceiling. It’s also recommended that you have a friend to assist here, not only to help with putting it up (depending on how grandiose your design is) but also to ensure that it’s levelled to your table or floor.
After that’s done, it’s just a matter of hooking up the power connector to a power socket and let the fun begin.
All the RGBs
Once powered, the Lines will give out a soft glow before brightening up in full RGB glory. Unlike most other wall-lighting options, the Lines are backlit and combined with a 20-lumen rating per line (so a setup of nine gives you 180 lumens), they work great as an ambient lighting setup behind a monitor or to light up a dark corner (as in my case) without blinding you even when turned on at full brightness.
From my experience, the lights work best when installed on darker backgrounds. A light-coloured wall – such as those painted white or pastel colours like pink – don’t make the RGB colours “pop” as much.
As an ambient lighting option, the Lines are surprisingly full of features, including having 19 pre-loaded scenes in the companion app and support for Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, as well as SmartThings and IFTTT. This lets you control them with your voice and add them into automations or routines.
You can even create your own scenes, but in my experience with it I found it to be overly complicated to use and set one up on my own – although there are some great scenes uploaded by other Nanoleaf owners that you can download to the lights.
Overall, I like the Nanoleaf Lines, I really do. Nanoleaf has always pride itself as a premium lighting brand, and the high quality make of the new Lines are impressive. While the Smarter Kit’s price tag of S$339 can be prohibitive for some, I do think the Lines series is quite possibly one of the best lighting systems around with its high customisation options and expansions if you have the budget for it. Perhaps my only pet peeve is that my chosen design has the power cable exposed – it can be hidden, of course, depending on your own design and if you have an object, such as a monitor in front of it.
And if you’re wondering, yes, you can also expand your light design with the Lines’ expansion pack (S$109) that comes with three Light Lines and corresponding connectors.