I make no secret of my love for Nanoleaf light panels. Sure, they don’t solve a problem or add convenience like much of my smart home gear. They also aren’t cheap. And yet, I still want to cover my walls in them as tech-inspired wall decor.
The company’s new Elements lights that are covered in blonde faux wood are no exception. While they don’t have color lights like other Nanoleaf products, these panels are attractive even when they’re turned off.
The Nanoleaf Elements line retails for $299.99 for a starter kit, which includes seven hexagonal panels and the controller. Additional panels come in an add-on pack that contains three panels and sells for $99.99.
The Elements lights glow white in shades from cool 4,000 Kelvin to a reddish-orange 1,500 Kelvin with 22 lumens per light. (If you want some color on your wall, you can add the Nanoleaf Shapes to these and create a mix of colorful lights and wood-paneled lights.)
Like most Nanoleaf lights, you can program scenes for the lights and they will respond to both touch and sound. The lights work with HomeKit, Google, and Amazon’s Alexa and connect to your home networking using 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.
Getting the Elements on the wall
I tried out the Elements and was happy to see that since buying my original Nanoleaf set, the process of onboarding and assembling the panels has gotten easier.
To install the lights, you should first download the Nanoleaf app on an iOS or Android device. (I used iOS for this review because the Android app for Elements wasn’t ready for testing yet.) Like any HomeKit supported device, the onboarding was a breeze. I downloaded the app, signed in, and then snapped the QR code located on the plug that powers the light panels.
I gave my lights a name and a room and then it was done. A few minutes later, Alexa alerted me that the lights and their associated scenes were available if I wanted to control them using the Echo. Smooth.
We’ll come back to scenes and the app in a bit, but first, let’s get these up on the wall. Everything in the kit is separate, which gives you the most control over your design. Once the lights are connected in the app, you can see options for laying out your lights or plan your own design. I like to lay everything out on my floor, connect it to power and the hexagons to each other, and make sure everything works. I measure how wide the whole design is and how tall.
From there, you can make little templates for the panels if you want to get it oriented exactly right on the wall, but I really just measure how far over and from the center of the design my first piece is and then plop it on the wall. I should note that the panels will stick better if you clean the wall first. I will also admit that I have hung Nanoleaf panels on four separate occasions but only cleaned the wall on one of those occasions.
There are two things about Nanoleaf’s installation process that have improved since I bought my first Nanoleaf lights.
First, the panels come with a large 3M Command tape stuck in the middle. This is an upgrade from my experience with the original lights and the square Canvas lights, which used smaller strips that you placed on the edge of the panels, leaving little bits of command tape sticking out of the side for easy removal later. These new lights have a different design with the panel affixed to a plastic mount that the tape is attached to. Theoretically, when it comes time to remove the panels, I can easily pop the panel off that mount and remove the tape. I am curious how well these will detach. The one time I’ve removed my older panels from the wall, I ended up taking a bit of the paint and wall texture with me. (The others I’ve hung are still on the walls of the friends who I had helped hang them, so no word on how well those will detach.)
Second, the fasteners between the lights are improved. Rather than having to slide the hexagons onto a connector (which is hard when they have sticky tape on the back!), the panels snap onto connectors that affix to the back of the panels. It’s kind of like Legos. The starter kit comes with 8 fasteners that close the circuit between the panels and link them together.
Once the panels are on the wall, the hardest part of this job is done.
Using the lights is easy
To enjoy the lights, you can use the panels, the app, or your voice assistant. You can turn the lights on or off with a double-tap on the edge-most pieces. Touching the panels also makes them glow brighter when they are on, which is fun. Inside the app, you can select one of 11 pre-defined scenes or turn them all to the same color temperature.
The scenes are really nice. My favorite is Sahara Nights, which was a cooler shade of white that seemed to shimmer across the panels. There is a lot of movement happening with these lights. It’s pretty magical.
I’ve been using the Nanoleaf app for four years, and I’ve found that it has a consistent user experience that lets you dig deep to make your own scenes if that’s your jam. It also makes it super easy to go between your favorites with just a few taps. I confess that I mostly stick to two or three scenes unless it’s Halloween or some sort of party situation. And I mostly just control the on/off and scenes using my voice, so I am rarely in the app.
You can only control 21 panels off one power supply, although Nanoleaf sells upgraded power supplies for adding more panels. After testing these out, I plan to buy 22 (a starter kit and five 3-packs) to create a design on an 11-foot hallway wall that people have to walk down to get to my living room and kitchen. Yes, it’s $800 worth of panels, but the result will be a 7-foot by 4-foot design that means I don’t have to buy a painting or make a gallery wall. And I will do almost anything to avoid a gallery wall.