Review: Nanoleaf Elements wooden light panels

Nanoleaf has a new smart lighting product that looks good on, or off. While there's a lot of options on the market to add smart lighting to your home,...

Nanoleaf has a new smart lighting product that looks good on, or off. While there’s a lot of options on the market to add smart lighting to your home, the Nanoleaf Elements tiles offer something very unique.

Most lighting tiles look fun when they’re on, they usually try and blend into the white wall behind them when they’re not in use, which is many hours per day. What Elements gets really right, is their focus on looking great day or night.

The hexagon panels feature a wooden finish, which compliments a modern interior. They’ll still draw attention from visitors, but in a good way, rather than conversations about what the weird white triangles or squares on your wall are, you’ll be much more likely to be asked where someone can buy the Elements.

Being module, these clip together using Flex Linkers, which enable you to be really creative in your arrangement and if you get stuck, the mobile app can even suggest layouts for you.

Nanoleaf provided both a Starter Kit and Expansion Pack, which offers 7 and 3 panels respectively. I’ve had them on the wall of my office for a couple of weeks now, so its time for a review.

DESIGN

Looks good with the lights on or off

The design of the Nanoleaf Elements is clearly one of the big draw cards to this module, smart lighting solution. Starting with the hexagonal shape of the modules, the geometric shapes look at home in any modern home. If you’re interior design has touches of scandinavian interior design, the tiles will integrate amazingly well, thank to the design and finish.

The modules are finished in a very realistic wooden look, complete with a grain that you can align to make it look like the tiles were created from same tree. When the tiles are off, they look like an art installation, making them far more palatable for spouses who aren’t into electronics on your walls.

Thanks to the ability to connect modules from any of their 6 sides, it’s possible to create an amazing array of designs. With the starter pack, you get 7 tiles to arrange, but with the additional expansion pack, I found it really offered many more arrangement options.

After you’ve done sticking the tiles to your wall, you’ll attach the control module, which clips in the any edge of the tile array. This small controller is really elegant in its design, matching the wood texture and featuring classy icons which show you where the capacity touch areas are to control the modules. Of course you can configure and active the Nanoleaf element through a mobile app, but also being able to walk over and control them is a welcome inclusion.

PERFORMANCE

How does it perform ?

While I love the way these light panels look when they’re off, let’s get serious, you buy smart lighting products to light your room. The performance of the Nanoleaf Elements in regards to their ability to light your home or business is interesting.

These are not RGB light panels, which means the available colours you have to choose from are limited, but that doesn’t mean they’re not bright. Despite the light having to pass through that wooden facade, the panels emit plenty of light to the room. Obviously, the more panels you add, the more light you can make, but smart lighting isn’t just about a simple on or off, it’s also about how fun and visually interesting the light is as well.

The Elements have a colour range between white light and burnt orange, with both extremes looking great and suited well for different times of the day or week. When I’m working late at night and want to increase the ambient light in the office, but don’t want to have the bright downlights on, the Elements offer a great in-between and having the ability for them to emit any light level, by adjusting a simple slider in the app.

Basic lighting controls are fun, but these are capable of so much more. There’s a whole host of lighting effects to choose from, including Reading White, Bloom, Calming Waterfall, Clouds, Ember, Fireflies, Sunbeam, Warm Waves and more. Each of these modes animates the light tiles in different colours and makes a serious visual impact on the room. I do find the subtle changes to light to be great while working away, rather than a boring static light.

If you want to get really fancy, you’ll put them into music mode, which allows the panels to change dynamically, based on the sound in your environment. This works great if you’re having a party and playing music, helping to provide a very unique look and feel to the environment.

While there are static controls, the true power of smart, connected light, is the ability to automate its configuration. With Schedules, you can have the lights come on between certain hours of the day and days of the week, which is great, particularly if you are looking to also use them as a security device, to simulate you being home when you go on holidays.

Overall the performance of the Nanoleaf Elements is very impressive, even if they can’t do a full range of colours.

FEATURES

Stand out features of this device

While smart lights are made to be simple, Nanoleaf has also packed in a bunch of features.

Layout Assistant

Nanoleaf has created modular light panels, and with that ability to connect the panels on any one of 6 sides, comes options. To help you decide on an arrangement of panels, you simply connect the first panel to the Nanoleaf mobile app, then tap the Layout Assistant option.

From here, you just set the number of panels you have. Tapping generate, gives you a new design to consider. Once you settle on one you like, you can start mounting them to the wall, with the double-sided tape attached to the back of each panel.

Lighting options

You can choose from a range of warm to cool lighting options to illuminate your space with a natural glow. It’s definitely possible to set all panels in your array as the same colour, but its also possible to chose a gradient of colours to animate through. This creates a feeling of the tiles being alive and more natural, much like the flicker of a candle, versus a static fluorescent light.

This can provide some really great lighting experiences, from the cosy feeling of a Crackling Fireplace or the tranquillity of a Calming Waterfall with dynamic glowing effects.

Control options

You can control the panels in a number of ways. Touch gestures allow you to configure the way the panels behave. You can set what double-tap odes, along with sipes in each direction. Logically, you may set double-tap to power on/off, and swipe up and down to control brightness, with swipes left and right, cycling you through the next colour scene.

You can also use the control module, which attaches to any panel. This offers dedicated capacitive touch buttons to drive similar functions. The right-most icon is for music mode, which allows the panels to respond to audio in the environment.

It is also possible to configure schedules in the app, to enable the lights to come on and go off to meet your lifestyle.

Integrations

Being smart tiles, typically means that they integrate with IoT platforms, so other smart devices in your home can work together. Nanoleaf offers integrations with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT. This means controlling the panels using your voice, is definitely an option and a really convenient one.

Perfect for elevating a home decor, creating a cosy warm ambience in the room, finding inspiration, or setting up your personal wellness space.

 

Specifications

Height: 20cm
Width: 23 cm
Thickness: 0.6 cm
Panel mounted thickness: 1 cm
Weight: 208 g
Power Cable Length: 2.5 m

Technical specifications

Dimmability: Yes (via App, Voice, or Touch)
Brightness: 22 lumens
Lifetime: 25,000 hours
Communication: – WiFi (2.4GHz b/g/n), note: 5GHz networks are not compatible.
Colour Temperature – Ambient Whites, 1500K – 4000K
Energy Consumption per panel: 2W
Max Panels per power supply: 21 panels
Max Panels per controller: 80 panels
Mounting Type: Via included double-sided tape or screw mount
Location: Indoor Only
Compatibility: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT

ISSUES

Not everything’s perfect

The biggest complaint people will have with the Nanoleaf Elements, is the fact they can’t do all colours of the RGB spectrum. With most homes having now experimented with smart lighting, I think that’s almost the expectation now, that all smart lighting, could do all colours.

I appreciate that with the natural wood look, it would wash out some colours, compared to a transparent white face to the tile, so it’s possible Nanoleaf tried that option and the result wasn’t great. Still, I actually prefer the choice as a user to decide if I like it.

Other than that, the panels work as advertised and the biggest issue you’ll face is deciding how many you need.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

How much and when can you get one ?

The Nanoleaf Elements range is available in Smarter Kits (7 Light Panels) for AUD$429.99 and Expansion Packs (3 Light Panels) for AUD$149.99. For that price, it’s certainly not cheap, but given how unique these are, I think they’re able to command that price.

You can control the smart lights with the manual controller included or by using the Nanoleaf App for more customizations. Elements also works with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT integrations.

You can pre-orders Nanoleaf Elements now, from online stores like JB Hi-Fi, Amazon AU, and Kogan.com.au.

OVERALL

Final thoughts

Having used plenty of smart, connected lighting products before, the app experience was to be expected, but opening the box and seeing the design of these tiles was an absolute joy. I absolutely loved the look of these panels and couldn’t wait to get them installed on my wall. With setup a breeze, the hardest question you’ll have is how many you want and what arrangement to place them in. Thankfully Nanoleaf assists in this process with a digital designer in the app.

Once I connected the lights and seen them illuminated, I was amazed at just how good they looked. From there, it’s really just a matter of experimenting with the colour modes and routines, configuring them for your personal preferences.

Personally, I added them to the wall of my office, right next to my monitor where I work every day. Having the control module within arm’s reach is also handy, offering an even more convenient to turning them on when the sun goes down, and off when I head to bed. Having ambient light on really helps to reduce eye strain from staring at a monitor over a number of hours. Having the Nanoleaf Elements on, not only provides that ambient light, but does it so beautifully, it makes you smile.

The big advantage to these lights is that they will have far greater acceptance in public spaces in your home or office. That wooden texture really works well for any home that already has timber elements as part of the interior design. Whether it’s floorboards, entertainment units, coffee tables or shelves, the wooden finish will fit right in and that makes it far more approachable for those without Twitch channels.

Naturally, I’d love the cost to be cheaper, so I could buy more of them and have them in multiple places around the home. My advice for anyone keen to get started is buy the starter pack, with 7 tiles, but be warned, you’ll very quickly want the expansion pack or packs.

9.2
Review: Nanoleaf Elements wooden light panels
The Good
  • Design
  • Lighting effects
  • Layout suggestions
  • Schedules
  • Music mode
  • Integrations
The Bad
  • Premium price
  • No RGB
  • Design
    9.8
  • Features
    9.0
  • Value
    8.8
Categories
General

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021
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