Nanoleaf has expanded its lineup this year to include some great new smart home lighting options. The Essentials line launched with a standard-size smart bulb and a 6-foot lightstrip. Like the company’s smart light panels, there’s no hub needed for these new HomeKit lights and after spending some good time with both of them, we were able to discover the aspects that make them stand out.
Even though these new HomeKit lights have been dubbed “Nanoleaf Essentials” they definitely include more than the basics. A good example of that is Thread support built in – the latest wireless communication protocol that comes with HomePod mini that means greater connection stability and faster control.
We’ll get into more specifics about how these HomeKit lights go above and beyond but two more notable pieces are the design of the A19 Essentials bulb and the functionality built into the lightstrip‘s hardware.
Nanoleaf Essentials design
The Nanoleaf Essentials A19 smart bulb has a unique geometric design that makes it just as nice to look at when it’s turned off as on. The design also means it’s a nice choice for light fixtures that leave bulbs more exposed.
There’s not much differentiation possible with a lightstrip, but what I appreciate about the Essentials Lightstrip is that Nanoleaf built a controller into the end of it. While Siri and automation may be the primary means of controlling your HomeKit lights, having manual control can be a handy option.
As you would hope from hub-free HomeKit lights, set up is dead simple. After screwing in the A19 Essentials bulb and/or plugging in the Essentials lightstrip, you can add them either directly through the Home app or set them up through the Nanoleaf app (adds them to the Home app as well).
It’s also a great touch to have the HomeKit code printed on the A19 bulb itself so you don’t have to worry about saving/losing a separate piece of paper.
One feature you will need to set up in the Nanoleaf app (if you’d like to use it) is the “Circadian Lighting.” This is like Apple’s HomeKit Adaptive Lighting. Here’s how Nanoleaf describes it:
The Bulb and Lightstrip have a built-in Circadian Lighting feature that allows the lights to automatically adjust color temperature throughout the day to complement natural daylight, setting the perfect ambiance for any time of day. With the brightest white lighting available within the smart lighting category, Essentials is ideal for daily lighting needs. Users can even set custom timing to help adjust lighting to irregular schedules unique to them.
Nanoleaf Essentials in use
I’ve had a really good experience with both of these HomeKit lights over the past weeks. After smooth set ups, they have been stable and responsive. On average they respond to commands via Siri in 2 seconds.
I haven’t seen a difference in responsiveness between commands made with my HomePod vs the HomePod mini – the latter takes advantage of Thread – but honestly I’m quite happy with a 2-second response. And I haven’t had any stability issues with the devices staying connected. So I guess all in all, maybe not noticing anything here is a good thing.
When it comes to the Essentials A19 smart bulb, I love the design. It really sets it apart from most everything else on the market and I think makes it a lot more flexible to use with any fixture.
I installed the Essentials Lightstrip under my desk and I’ve really come to appreciate the physical controller (also mounted under my desk for easy access). It features four buttons for on/off, changing colors, and brightness up and down. Siri is great but I like having options and have found myself using the physical buttons more than I expected.
Compared to other lightstrips I’ve used, the Essentials Lighstrip feels like it offers better consistency as far as light output from the LEDs (so you’re not seeing bright and dull spots in-between each LED).
As you’d hope, there’s also a 1M (40-inch) extension available for the Essentials Lightstrip priced at $25.
Whether you’re just diving into HomeKit lighting or expanding your setup, I think the Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb and Lightstrip offer compelling value.
From a hub-free experience with fast HomeKit setup, unique design for the bulb, and the handy extras of a physical controller for Lightstrip and future proofing for both lights with Thread, these are easy to recommend. That’s even more the case at $19.95 and $49.95 for the bulb and lightstrip, respectively.
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