Sylvania’s Smart+ LED flexible light strips work with Apple HomeKit right out-of-the-box without requiring a hub. They’re also $30 cheaper than the comparable Philips Hue solution, so what’s the catch? If you only care about the HomeKit experience, there really isn’t one. Here’s my experience:
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Light strips are great for adding accent lighting to hard-to-reach areas, and HomeKit support lets you control brightness and colors with Apple’s Home app or Siri.
Sylvania’s solution is super straightforward for HomeKit users. Included in the box is the power supply and three light strips that connect together with pins and stick to surfaces with an attached adhesive.
The set up process is simple: pick where you want to place your light strips, remove the paper back to reveal the adhesive strip, and fix them in place. Then connect the power supply and scan the HomeKit barcode from the Home app to get started.
You can cut excess strip as needed (although the excess can’t be reused), or in my case just use two out of the three sections included in the box. The extra section can be used as an add-on to a separate kit in the future.
There really is no need for a dedicated hub that you have to connect to your router to make the light panels connect to HomeKit. In my testing, I am using an Apple TV as a HomeKit hub, but that’s recommended for the best experience anyway (and iPad or HomePod can also be HomeKit hubs).
I did have a brief hiccup in the experience with getting initial pairing between Sylvania and HomeKit to work, but cycling the power five times puts the light strips in reset mode which fixed the set up issue.
It’s been smooth sailing since then — even for a Bluetooth accessory. Sylvania’s light panels are just as responsive as other HomeKit lights that use hubs, and the features you have in Apple’s Home app are matched.
Using the Home app, you can toggle power on and off, adjust brightness between 1 and 100%, and pick solid colors.
You can also group Sylvania’s light strips with other HomeKit accessories to create grouped actions called scenes. For example, I created a Movie Night scene that turns off the surrounding lights and sets the light strips to a specific color and brightness.
You can also automate actions like turning the light strips on after sunset and off at sunrise, or turn off all the light panels when you say good night to Siri.
If you’re strictly buying lighting that you want to work with HomeKit, Sylvania’s Smart+ line is excellent. Sylvania heavily relies on the Home app to work (which is a plus if you only care about HomeKit), but there’s no support for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant if cross compatibility is important to you.
You also miss out on the small ecosystem of apps that work with Philips Hue to create lighting effects outside of HomeKit, but that’s a fair trade-off for $30 less and no additional hub needed.
Sylvania Smart+ LED flexible light strips retail for $59.99. The starter kit includes three sections that total 72-inches. That’s slightly shorter than Philips Hue’s version which is 80-inches long, but no bridge required and $30 cheaper is still compelling. Recommended.