Review: The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit Features Smart HomeKit-Enabled Light Bulbs With a Unique Look [Updated]

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Nanoleaf, a company that specializes in energy efficient LED-based lighting, got its start on Kickstarter in 2012 with a unique set of light bulbs that looked more like art than traditional lighting with individual LEDs mounted on origami-folded printed circuit boards.

Nanoleaf has since expanded from simple lightbulbs to home automation with the introduction of its Nanoleaf Home Smarter Kit. Consisting of two of its signature dimmable bulbs and a geometric hub, the Nanoleaf Home Smarter Kit integrates with Apple's HomeKit home automation platform, allowing users to control their lights both through Siri and through an accompanying Nanoleaf app.


Design

When it comes to the hardware, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is undeniably attractive. The two Ivy bulbs it ships with are some of the nicest looking bulbs you can find, suitable for use in both closed and open-style lamps and light fixtures. The hub, which connects the bulbs to the Internet, is stylish enough to sit out on a shelf or an entertainment unit without looking like an eyesore. It's without a doubt the most visually appealing HomeKit product I've tested so far.

Because the bulbs that the Smarter Kit ships with are black, you'll need to take that into account with any lights where the bulbs are visible. The distinctive design is nice, but it's also not going to match with every decor. Keep in mind the hub is going to need to be plugged into the router via ethernet because this is a Zigbee setup.


For the record, the Ivy bulbs are standard bulbs that are going to fit in any E26 or E27 lamp and they function like any normal bulb, with one small exception. There's a neat built-in feature that lets the bulbs be dimmed physically through the light switch (even one that doesn't support traditional dimming) rather than through an app or voice command. Flipping the light switch on and off a couple of times activates the dimming, and another couple of flips sets it. It's a handy feature if you don't have a smartphone nearby.


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Article Link: Review: The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit Features Smart HomeKit-Enabled Light Bulbs With a Unique Look [Updated]
 

2457282

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Are you sure we're looking at the same thing? It looks like someone cobbled this together using foam board in their basement tinker shop.
I actually saw either this product or another similar looking product in a store in Philly when visiting a few weeks back. I was with my daughter and she asked what the heck is that and after explaining that it was a light bulb, she chuckled and said "yeah, no." She then walked away.
 
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adamneer

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Seems like pretty wasteful packaging for a company called Nanoleaf. I'm also wondering why every single bulb needs to be controlled, rather than simply adding the functionality to junction boxes or switchboxes. Other than the obvious fact that you can sell a lot more product this way...
 

baryon

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HomeKit support for most products is inadequate because things are just supposed to work, and when they don't, it's a frustrating experience trying to figure out what's wrong with absolutely no way to diagnose a problem across multiple HomeKit devices from one central location.
Just like Home Sharing. I tried to get it working for a year or so between an iPad and a Mac, tried various things, it just does not work, at all. And there you go. no error message, no troubleshooting options, no nothing. You set it up, and it doesn't work. No explanation. This is so typical of Apple nowadays, and I don't understand why they've become like this. And the processes you go through just to troubleshoot it are nauseating, erasing and restoring from iCloud backups, changing your bank card's address and number, resetting everything, etc...

At the end you give up and say "Hey why the hell am I even doing this? Why can't I just turn a damn light bulb on the oldschool way, with, you know, a light switch? Why don't I just copy paste my music library and sync it to the other person's iPad instead of using Home Sharing? Why not sign in with my account on the other person's iPad, download my apps, then sign out, leaving the apps there? It works, and it's far easier." I think some simple things today are just becoming comically complicated.
 

ohio.emt

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Seems like pretty wasteful packaging for a company called Nanoleaf. I'm also wondering why every single bulb needs to be controlled, rather than simply adding the functionality to junction boxes or switchboxes. Other than the obvious fact that you can sell a lot more product this way...
It depends upon the use. I used bulbs in my ceiling fan, due to wanting to keep the fan on with the lights off, and also no negative in the switch box. Also for a single light somewhere it can be about 1/2 the price to just use a bulb.
 

TXCherokee

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Design

When it comes to the hardware, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is undeniably attractive. The two Ivy bulbs it ships with are some of the nicest looking bulbs you can find, suitable for use in both closed and open-style lamps and light fixtures. The hub, which connects the bulbs to the Internet, is stylish enough to sit out on a shelf or an entertainment unit without looking like an eyesore. It's without a doubt the most visually appealing HomeKit product I've tested so far.

Because the bulbs that the Smarter Kit ships with are black, you'll need to take that into account with any lights where the bulbs are visible. The distinctive design is nice, but it's also not going to match with every decor. Keep in mind the hub is going to need to be plugged into the router via ethernet because this is a Zigbee setup.

Click here to read more...

Article Link: Review: The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit Features Smart HomeKit-Enabled Light Bulbs With a Unique Look
 

nuckinfutz

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I have a Hue so the Nanoleaf offer nothing I don't already have. That being said its nice to have options. I'm a bit worried about the state of the industry. Here is why

  • Cost- 15 bucks for white bulbs is the sweet spot. Color bulbs need to come down to 30 bucks.
  • Physical control- where are the Zigbee dimmers? I know of only a handful
  • Too many Hubs- we need universal hubs that support multiple protocol & brands
HomeKit is a step in the right direction to abstract the many protocol behind a voice enabled, configurable system.
 

Parasprite

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Mar 5, 2013
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Just like Home Sharing. I tried to get it working for a year or so between an iPad and a Mac, tried various things, it just does not work, at all. And there you go. no error message, no troubleshooting options, no nothing. You set it up, and it doesn't work. No explanation.
No kidding. It doesn't really help your morale when it's all Apple products (iPad, iPhone, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme) from point A to point B and still doesn't work for some reason.

At least Airdrop seems to be reliable now...
 

Delta14

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Nov 24, 2015
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Seems like pretty wasteful packaging for a company called Nanoleaf. I'm also wondering why every single bulb needs to be controlled, rather than simply adding the functionality to junction boxes or switchboxes. Other than the obvious fact that you can sell a lot more product this way...
The simple answer here is that most people will not be interested in swapping out a dimmer switch on their own.

The more complex answer is that these products will come, although there is an interesting transition in terms of dimming technology. Classic dimmers use TRIAC dimming. While LEDs can be made to work with TRIAC, its a bit like putting a square peg in a round hole, and you end up cramming in almost as much tech as you would with wireless dimming at the bulb. So you can create a TRIAC ZigBee dimmer but you're essentially doubling up on components when coupling with LED lighting.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

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At $99 and $25 for extra bulbs, it's cheaper than the Philips Hue, which is $199 for three bulbs and upwards of $20 for additional bulbs.
Just wanted to point out that there is a tipping point after which the Hue is cheaper than this, although it takes awhile to hit that point... and even then, your savings don't even seem to be all that great.

Philips Hue vs Nanoleaf
3 Bulbs: $199 vs $124
...
6 Bulbs: $259 vs $199
...
9 Bulbs: $319 vs $274
...
18 Bulbs: $499 vs $499
...
32 Bulbs: $779 vs $849

Another point not mentioned about what's wrong with HomeKit - Apple doesn't even enforce any sort of rules about apps needing to implement it. I can control my garage via LiftMaster's MyQ app, but since it doesn't utilize HomeKit, I can't control it with Siri.

Also, I'm forced to use their lousy app which seems to be very sluggish.
 

RadioGaGa1984

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Those are some of the most hideous bulbs I've ever seen. Maybe if your house was done in early American Death Star.
 

laurim

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Just wanted to point out that there is a tipping point after which the Hue is cheaper than this, although it takes awhile to hit that point... and even then, your savings don't even seem to be all that great.

Philips Hue vs Nanoleaf
3 Bulbs: $199 vs $124
...
6 Bulbs: $259 vs $199
...
9 Bulbs: $319 vs $274
...
18 Bulbs: $499 vs $499
...
32 Bulbs: $779 vs $849

Another point not mentioned about what's wrong with HomeKit - Apple doesn't even enforce any sort of rules about apps needing to implement it. I can control my garage via LiftMaster's MyQ app, but since it doesn't utilize HomeKit, I can't control it with Siri.

Also, I'm forced to use their lousy app which seems to be very sluggish.
I'm annoyed with Liftmaster's MyQ. Their app is so old and I still can't open the garage using my Watch. Thankfully, I had the foresight to have the installer throw in every remote imaginable so I have a lockpad next to the garage door.
 

nuckinfutz

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Jul 3, 2002
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Just wanted to point out that there is a tipping point after which the Hue is cheaper than this, although it takes awhile to hit that point... and even then, your savings don't even seem to be all that great.

Philips Hue vs Nanoleaf
3 Bulbs: $199 vs $124
...
6 Bulbs: $259 vs $199
...
9 Bulbs: $319 vs $274
...
18 Bulbs: $499 vs $499
...
32 Bulbs: $779 vs $849

Another point not mentioned about what's wrong with HomeKit - Apple doesn't even enforce any sort of rules about apps needing to implement it. I can control my garage via LiftMaster's MyQ app, but since it doesn't utilize HomeKit, I can't control it with Siri.

Also, I'm forced to use their lousy app which seems to be very sluggish.
Plus this comparison deals with Hue bulbs that do millions of colors versus Nanoleaf that does just white. If we compare the Hue Whites the kit price is $99 with $15-20 bulbs.
 

nuckinfutz

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Jul 3, 2002
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I'm annoyed with Liftmaster's MyQ. Their app is so old and I still can't open the garage using my Watch. Thankfully, I had the foresight to have the installer throw in every remote imaginable so I have a lockpad next to the garage door.
Let's hope that Lifttmaster gets the same HomeKit capability in the near future. Taken from MQCommunity


I apologize for the delay on this response. Chamberlain is in the process of partnering with Apple for HomeKit. Once this takes place, your MyQ Garage will receive a firmware update and you will be good to go. There will be an announcement when this takes place.
 
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adamneer

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The simple answer here is that most people will not be interested in swapping out a dimmer switch on their own.

The more complex answer is that these products will come, although there is an interesting transition in terms of dimming technology. Classic dimmers use TRIAC dimming. While LEDs can be made to work with TRIAC, its a bit like putting a square peg in a round hole, and you end up cramming in almost as much tech as you would with wireless dimming at the bulb. So you can create a TRIAC ZigBee dimmer but you're essentially doubling up on components when coupling with LED lighting.
I can understand the complexity being a detractor from the prevailance of hard wired light controls, but then, Nest is a fairly complicated install (depending on the HVAC setup in your home, and whether or not you even know what kind of HVAC system your home has) and they seemed to have hit a home run with that product. With regards to the dimming technology, I would again think it easier to deal with at the power source than with each individual bulb - this time specifically as a user-facing issue. Just look at how little knowledge exists in terms of CFL bulbs; the average person is unaware that they (at least the majority of them) aren't supposed to be used on dimmable circuits. Besides, I'd imagine the person willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a smartphone controlled lighting system would be willing to shell out $100 bucks to have an electrician come in and do 5 minutes worth of work.
 

laurim

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There ARE some dimmable CFLs on the market and will say so on the package. They work fine on my X-10 controllers with a dimming function. But now I'm in the process of replacing any bulbs with LED bulbs as they die.

Currently, I'm researching adding LED rope accent lighting to my kitchen cabinets when I remodel. I am removing the soffit and moving all the uppers up about 3 inches so it's a good time to add the outlets needed to add any accent lighting behind the crown moulding I intend to add to the top of the cabinets. Does anyone have any opinions whether I should do Wemo or Phillips Hue? Seems like maybe the Wemo system is more extensive and the app might be a little better. I think they are both compatible with Zigbee. It's so hard to know what system to go with rather than have a hodgepodge. Maybe if they all get on HomeKit it won't matter?
 

ArtOfWarfare

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Nov 26, 2007
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I'm annoyed with Liftmaster's MyQ. Their app is so old and I still can't open the garage using my Watch. Thankfully, I had the foresight to have the installer throw in every remote imaginable so I have a lockpad next to the garage door.
I'm happy with what I have - an opener in each of our cars + the app on each of our iPhones. My wife wanted to get the keypad next to the door, but it seemed to me that they couldn't do anything of value, cost too much, and were trivial to hack. I realize there's always the argument that the person could just cut a hole in your door, but with the opener, it seems like you can just crack the case open and hot wire it. Boom, you're in, and it's unlikely anybody will notice anything amiss in time.
 

laurim

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Sep 19, 2003
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I'm happy with what I have - an opener in each of our cars + the app on each of our iPhones. My wife wanted to get the keypad next to the door, but it seemed to me that they couldn't do anything of value, cost too much, and were trivial to hack. I realize there's always the argument that the person could just cut a hole in your door, but with the opener, it seems like you can just crack the case open and hot wire it. Boom, you're in, and it's unlikely anybody will notice anything amiss in time.
Fortunately I don't live in a neighborhood where I worry about that kind of aggression. Not that crime never happens but the crime that has happened is largely from people being careless about leaving things unlocked. For example, I've lived in my house over 15 years and the only time I've experienced a hint of crime was after I forgot to close the garage door and found my car with its doors open and all my parking quarters missing. That was the only thing in my garage missing. I called the police more to get the incident on the record in case there was a string of thefts. They stopped by, checked things out and that was it. Creeped me out for a little while but I sure remembered to close the door after that! My garage is detached, btw.

Years later, the door finally stopped working properly and I upgraded to a belt-drive MyQ Liftmaster vs the DIY one where the track is in multiple pieces and eventually comes apart. During the call, I negotiated extra door openers into the price, mainly the external keypad I mentioned. So I have an opener in the car, one on the wall next to the kitchen door, a keypad just outside the garage, the main one inside the garage and with myQ I can use my iPhone. After it was installed, I was disappointed that the main controller didn't have the autoclose timer feature so I ordered the right controller from Amazon and swapped it out myself. So now I have all available ways to manage my garage door's status except the ability to open it with my watch when I happen to have gone out in the back yard and need to grab a tool. Punching in my code isn't a big deal but being able to simply tap my watch would be better and easy to offer me.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

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Fortunately I don't live in a neighborhood where I worry about that kind of aggression. Not that crime never happens but the crime that has happened is largely from people being careless about leaving things unlocked. For example, I've lived in my house over 15 years and the only time I've experienced a hint of crime was after I forgot to close the garage door and found my car with its doors open and all my parking quarters missing. That was the only thing in my garage missing. I called the police more to get the incident on the record in case there was a string of thefts. They stopped by, checked things out and that was it. Creeped me out for a little while but I sure remembered to close the door after that! My garage is detached, btw.

Years later, the door finally stopped working properly and I upgraded to a belt-drive MyQ Liftmaster vs the DIY one where the track is in multiple pieces and eventually comes apart. During the call, I negotiated extra door openers into the price, mainly the external keypad I mentioned. So I have an opener in the car, one on the wall next to the kitchen door, a keypad just outside the garage, the main one inside the garage and with myQ I can use my iPhone. After it was installed, I was disappointed that the main controller didn't have the autoclose timer feature so I ordered the right controller from Amazon and swapped it out myself. So now I have all available ways to manage my garage door's status except the ability to open it with my watch when I happen to have gone out in the back yard and need to grab a tool. Punching in my code isn't a big deal but being able to simply tap my watch would be better and easy to offer me.
I wonder if the jailbreak community might have something for you? Just some sort of tool that allows you to easily add an Apple Watch app to an existing iOS app that already exists... All you would want is a button on the Watch that simulates pressing the icon on the iPhone.

Regarding leaving the door open, I have my garage set to send me and my wife notifications and email warning us if the door is left open for more than 5 minutes.

I only just set this up last week. I might change it to 15 minutes or something... It frequently sends me warnings when we're just bringing groceries into the house via the garage door.
 

chiefsilverback

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Jul 25, 2011
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Seems like pretty wasteful packaging for a company called Nanoleaf. I'm also wondering why every single bulb needs to be controlled, rather than simply adding the functionality to junction boxes or switchboxes. Other than the obvious fact that you can sell a lot more product this way...
Lutron have a range of smart switches/dimmers that are HomeKit enabled. I just took a quick look at their site and they have some nice features like integration with the Nest smoke detectors, if they go off then any lights controlled by the smart switches will turn on and any drapes/blinds that are controlled will open to help people find their way out the house! Important to remember that a system like this will never control colour or give you control beyond the existing lighting circuits you have in your home.

Overall though there's probably a lot more appetite for simply swapping out bulbs as desired, not only for home owners but also renters who can't start changing the control end of the lighting.


I'm more interested to see when people start to design their new construction/remodels to factor in smart lighting. Given the price of each bulb people may be more thoughtful about the number of fixtures used in a given space, the ubiquitous 4 bulb fitting atop the mirror in bathrooms is less appealing when it costs $100 to put bulbs in it. My kids' bedroom (12' x 12') is lit with one $7 Ikea floor lamp fitted with a single 75W equivalent LED and it's plenty bright enough.