Nanoleaf Essentials Review: The Only Affordable Smart Lights Worth Buying

Nanoleaf Essentials Review
The Nanoleaf Essentials A19 bulbs and Lightstrips are amazing and affordable. Josh Smith

The Nanoleaf Essentials bulb and Lightstrip are new smart light products from the company best known for their light panels. These two new products are affordable, pack in cool new features like circadian lighting and work without a hub. They even work with HomeKit for automations and scenes.

The Nanoleaf Essentials smart bulb is $19.99, and the 80-inch Lightstrip is $49.99. You can add an optional 40-inch extension to the Lightstrip. You can buy Nanoleaf Essentials at Nanoleaf and Apple.

You don't need the Nanoleaf light panels to use these smart lights. They are a standalone product that is an excellent Hue alternative that is vastly more affordable and doesn't require a hub.

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Installation and Setup

Nanoleaf Essentials Review
We like the controller that lets us change many of the Lightstrip settings. Josh Smith

Setting up the Nanoleaf Essentials Light Bulbs and Lightstrip was simple on the iPhone, with a quick add to HomeKit. Once added to our Home in HomeKit, it was easy to control the light using the Home app or the Nanoleaf app. The Lightstrip installs in place with adhesive easily.

The Nanoleaf Essentials lights use Thread technology to deliver faster control if you use it with a HomePod Mini on the network or using an eero router.

Once we plugged a HomePod Mini in, the lights responded even faster to our controls with nearly instantaneous control. You can use Nanoleaf Essentials without Thread, but you will get better performance and reliability if you have one of these devices.


Nanoleaf Essentials Review
We love the geometric shape of the A19 bulbs. Josh Smith

We love the design of the bulbs, which feature a geometric design on the top. This is great if you are using them in table lamps or with exposed lighting. This design matches nicely with the panel options that Nanoleaf sells, and we like the style.

This is still a regular A19 style bulb, and the design doesn't make the bulb any larger than a traditional bulb, so the Nanoleaf Essentials A19 bulb still fits anywhere a standard bulb goes.

The Nanoleaf Lightstrip is designed to hide away, and it does that well. But the part of the design that stands out is the included control module. While we usually use the app or our voice to control the Lightstrip, the ability to tap on the button to change the brightness, color, color temperature or turn it off is an excellent option.

Performance and Color

Nanoleaf Essentials Review
The bulbs support over 16M colors that you can choose with the app or your voice. Josh Smith

The Nanoleaf Essentials A19 bulbs support 16M+ colors. The average brightness is 806 lumens, with a max brightness of 1,100 lumens. We are testing them in two table lamps in our living room, and they do a great job of lighting up the room. The bulbs work well even with a high ceiling.

Generally, we keep the lights around 50 to 60 percent brightness in the evening, but we turn the brightness up if we are using color.

The Nanoleaf Essentials are very good at color accuracy. With support for 16M colors, which is the standard for good smart lights, we observed very similar performance to Hue lights that are double the price of the Nanoleaf Essentials. Even tough-to-represent colors, like red, look good. The overall brightness is lower when using a color, which is common with smart lights.

The lights support Circadian Lighting, which changes the light's color temperature throughout the day and into the evening to adjust with your internal clock. It's similar to how most phone screens can change color tone throughout the day and into the night, but now it is for your whole home. Right now, this only works in the Nanoleaf app, but we hope that an update will allow us to use HomeKit Adaptive lighting with the Nanoleaf bulbs. If you want to use Circadian Lighting, you can't use HomeKit to automatically turn the lights on when you get home without opening the app and re-enabling Circadian Lighting in the Nanoleaf app.

Nanoleaf Essentials Review
The Nanoleaf Essentials Lightstrip delivers consistent light. Josh Smith

The Lightstrip features an average brightness of 2,000 lumens and a max brightness of 2,200 lumens. It also supports 16M+ colors and features a very good spread of coverage. We are using the strip to light up underneath an entertainment stand and love the look.

Connectivity is great, which is something that we've been monitoring closely since installing this in place of Hue bulbs. Many times cheaper smart lights are less reliable, but after nearly a month of use, the Nanoleaf Essentials A19 bulbs we are testing remained connected and responsive.

The Thread connectivity does speed up responses when we control the lights, and now the Nanoleaf Essentials turn on faster than other devices in the room. To take advantage of Thread connectivity, you need to add a HomePod Mini to your setup or use an eero router and enable the feature. We're hopeful that more devices will make it easy to add Thread to your home setup.

For voice control, you can use Siri, which we primarily use to turn the lights on and change colors. The system also supports Google Assistant voice controls. There is no Alexa support.

Are Nanoleaf Essentials Worth Buying?

Nanoleaf Essentials Review
Are the Nanoleaf Essentials worth buying? Josh Smith

The Nanoleaf Essentials lights are worth buying. You can get two bulbs for less than the cost of one Hue bulb, and there is no need for a hub. The Lightstrip is also more affordable, and we love the built-in controller.

We love the HomeKit support and ability to control by voice with Siri or Google Assistant. The brightness, color availability and reliability are all excellent.

Once you factor in Thread support and Circadian Lighting, there is a lot of value from the Nanoleaf Essentials light bulbs and Lightstrip.

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