Every gamer, streamer, or tech enthusiast has likely given thought to the idea of adding smart RGB lights to the wall or ceiling. Why? Because they are cool. Why else? They add deep levels of character to a room and brings out the energy for those spending time in it. This is what gave birth to companies like Nanoleaf and products like Nanoleaf’s Shapes Hexagons series panels.
These panels allows users to create whatever shapes and patterns they want. Mostly only limited to their imagination (and budget). Just like Nanoleaf’s other products, these allow for a user-friendly process, including getting the app to identify what that pattern/shape is so it can light up properly.
This is a starter kit (or “smarter kit”) to get you going with 7 hexagon panels, a controller, and a power supply. The company includes everything else you need to stick them on the wall, including double-stick pads, and connectors that bridge all of the panels together.
It is similar to the other “smarter kits” the company has within its other series, like the Nanoleaf Lines. You start here and then if you want more, you can expand to them with expansion kits, building your designs out however you wish.
With seven panels, it seems to be a fair place to start. Any fewer would be too little and there is no way the company is going to give you more when expansion packs are involved. This is the same with any company that offers similar products, as they all get you started with a specific number and then keep you wanting more as you go. It’s a smart strategy, like collecting playing cards for something like MTG or Pokemon.
The back-side of the panels contains a clip, that kind of looks like a padlock in shape, that spins so you can rotate the first one you stick to the wall. The double-stick pads apply to this clip and then to the wall. The clips also pop off so you can screw them to the wall for a more secure/permanent install. However, they do not include the screws and anchors so you’re on your own if you want to take that route.
If you plan on running these across the ceiling, you’ll want to go that route since double-sided tape only goes so far. The weight of the panels on the wall is nothing, but facing them straight down from the ceiling is a whole other story (don’t want any bumps in the night).
In the above images you see both the controller (left) and the power supply (right). The controller is placed anywhere within your design and disappears into the nether once you light everything up. At least, your eyes don’t really obsess over it being in the mix due to the bright distraction of everything else. The power supply is simply a wall plug, a long cable, and a connector that plugs into your design somewhere (wherever it can run to an outlet while being as minimal of a distraction as possible).
Each of these power supplies can power up to 21 of these Hexagons. So if you want to go even better, you’ll need more power supplies for every 21. However, a single controller can manage up to 500 panels. So you still only need one of those.
That controller also has a number of buttons running across it so that the panels can be controlled manually as well without having to break out the app or control it from any other source.
As for the other ways these panels can be controlled, the options go on forever. You can use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, as well as Apple HomeKit. You can also use IFTTT (since some people still actually make use of that). As well as some of the more popular smart home hubs, like SmartThings and Home Assistant.
You can also use Nanoleaf’s app to control them, and this is where you’d be starting to begin with. As well as by touch since the panels respond to touch and can be configured for various gestures.
Then there is Razer Chroma. This software can also control these lights, allowing you to integrate them in with the rest of your Razer Chroma compatible RGB lighting. With this software, the lights can interact with what’s happening on your screen as you game.
So the list just keeps going on and on. This is one of the things that help contribute to their score, as compatibility is everything. Not just pretty lights.
The connectors they provide easily pop into place to bring all of the panels together. You only need a single connector running between panels. So if a panel’s sides also touch other panels, you only need one to continue to the chain to the next but you don’t need more than one connecting back.
So in the image above you can see the bottom panel connects (or is set to connect to the one above and to each side of it. However, those panels don’t have to also connect to each other. As long as each panel has a single connector running from the previous, they will be able to communicate and tell which one is where.
This is what builds the design out for the app and then the app simply needs to know which direction the pattern is orientated into on your wall.
Once you have your pattern built out and connected, you plug them in and break out the app on your Android or Apple device. Register for an account (if you don’t already have one) and choose to add a new product. It will find the Shapes Hexagon series and walk you through connecting it to your Wi-Fi.
The final step automatically displays the design you have built on the app and will allow you to rotate it so it knows (as mentioned) which direction that design is facing. So it the example images above, we have our design at a diagonal slant instead of up and down or left to right.
It will be added to whatever group you create and you can add additional Nanoleaf products into that group or move on to however you want to control it from there. Like adding them to SmartThings, Home Assistant, or Razer Chroma via their matching integrations.
Then you have light! From the app you can choose various patterns. Color settings are best controlled from the app or via Razer Chroma. Options like Alexa, Google, Home Assistant, or SmartThings, generally give you some basic color options. But the app gives you tons of patterns you can pick from or find from online. And of course Razer Chroma is a thing of its own .
Don’t forget, you can also control them via touch as well by running your hands across them or touching them.
There are so many color options to pick from and you can also choose options that respond to music as well. So if you are having a party, they can dance to the tone of whatever track is playing. And there are a number of patterns that support this. The above image shows one running that randomly picks a panel and changes its color at random with each beat to the track. So it was all over the place. You can also choose a more fluid motion between a few colors to dance around with the music.
Then you have the option of buying into other products within Nanoleaf’s “Shapes” collection that can interconnect with the hexagon panels. Which include triangular panels of two different sizes. This way you can really get creative, Nanoleaf calls this “Connect+”.
Like Nanoleaf’s example above where the company has the panels laid out into a design of Baby Yoda (Grogu). This is a great example and we have to use theirs cine we don’t have any of those other panels to make anything ourselves (at least, at this time).
Like all of Nanoleaf’s products, these panels are versatile and filled with features. Even though they just look like a bunch of shapes on the wall that light up, you discover how deep their features expand the moment you touch one of the them or run your hands across a number of them.
There is so much connectivity when it comes to controlling these. From simple approaches to deeply being integrated with the rest of your smart home. The way we have them setup now, they can be controlled via Home Assistant, Alexa, Google, or the Nanoleaf app. The app giving the most color control while the others give more interaction with everything else smart in the building.
When it comes to features and connectivity between Nanoleaf’s ecosystem and others, these panels (like most of their products) are an absolute win. They simply work well and do so with so many other things. The price is a little high and we will never be tamed when it comes to that opinion. All smart RGB lighting products out there are a little expensive for our taste. You have to be well off if you want to build out an extravagant design of any kind. Not everyone has that luxury. So that weighs things down a little. Beyond that, not much else does. Making for another win for the company.
|Available from the following retailers:
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Height Per Panel: 75 in / 20 cm
- Width Per Panel: 9 in / 23 cm
- Edge Thickness: 24 in / 0.6 cm
- Mounted Thickness: 39 in / 1 cm
- Weight Per Panel: 46 lb / 208 g
- Cable Length: 2 ft / 2.5 m
- Connect+: Yes
- Touch Control: Yes
- Music Sync: Yes
- Screen Mirror: Yes
- Luminous Flux Per Panel: 100 lumens
- Lifetime: 25,000 hours
- Communication Protocol: WiFi (2.4 GHz b/g/n)
- Dimmability: Yes (via Nanoleaf App, Voice, Touch)
- Mounting Type: Via included double-sided tape or screw mounts (screws and anchors not included)
- Nanoleaf App: Control via the Nanoleaf App (Android & iOS) for mobile/tablet or the Nanoleaf Desktop App (Windows & Mac).
- Compatibility: Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Nanoleaf Remote, SmartThings, Razer Chroma
- Color Temperature: 1200K – 6500K
- Color Channel Configuration: RGBW
- Color Capability: More than 16 million
- Color Rendering Index (CRI): 80
- Voltage: 100VAC ~ 120VAC
- Max Power Supply Power: 42W
- Max Energy Consumption Per Panel: 2W
- Max Panels per Power Supply: 21 hexagons per 42W PSU
- Max Panels per Controller: 500 Hexagons
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.