Nanoleaf takes on Philips Hue with low-priced smart bulbs and light strips

Nanoleaf Essentials colourful bulbs are more affordable than many rivals, and they're just as practical and useful

Nanoleaf Essentials
(Image credit: Nanoleaf)

Move over Hue, there’s a new smart bulb in town. Nanoleaf has extended its range of smart bulbs to compete directly with Philips and other smart bulb providers.

Nanoleaf is known for its artistic, shaped lighting panels, which are decorative rather than task-based: they’re lighting features rather than everyday lights – lighting you look at rather than look with. The new Essentials range is more functional, and it's low-priced to make Nanoleaf lighting more affordable too – not just compared to other Nanoleaf products, but to the best smart bulbs generally.

Nanoleaf’s new Essentials range starts at just just $19.99 / £17.99 / AU$39.99 for a colour bulb. The Lightstrips starter kit is $49.99 / £44.99 / AU$99.99. That’s much, much cheaper than Nanoleaf Shapes, which come in at $179.99 / £199.99 / AU$229.99, and it’s also significantly cheaper to start with than Philips Hue – even if you get one of the best Philips Hue Starter Kit deals.

Unlike many rival smart lighting products, there’s no need for a hub: they connect directly to your network and communicate via the Nanoleaf app, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant.

Nanoleaf essentials

(Image credit: Nanoleaf)

What smart bulbs are in the Nanoleaf Essentials range?

There are two products in the Essentials range: the Smart Colour Changing LED Bulb, and the LED Lightstrips. Both products are compatible with HomeKit and HomeKit Adaptive Lighting, which means they can automatically change brightness and colour as the day progresses – so you can have cooler energising lighting during the day and warmer calmer lighting at night.

The Essentials bulb is a pretty thing, and it’s pretty impressive too: it has a maximum brightness of 1,100 lumens and an average brightness of 806 lumens. The bulb displays over 16 million colours and you can adjust the colour temperature from 2,700 to 6,500K. Nanoleaf says it’s the brightest white lighting at all colour temperatures currently available in the smart bulb category.

What makes Nanoleaf smart bulbs different?


Unlike normal bulbs which look like, well, normal bulbs, the dome of the Essentials bulb is a geometric shape – a “rhombicosidodecahedron”, Nanoleaf tells us, and we're inclined to believe them without double-checking – that’s been designed to look good without a shade as well as inside one. We’re not quite sold on the marketing claim that it “doubles as an art piece”, but it does look quite nice.

The Lightstrip is even brighter, peaking at up to 2,200 lumens with the same colour and white options, and it’s huge: 80”/two metres, expandable up to 10 metres with additional 1m/40- inch expansion strips. You can cut the Lightstrip to make it smaller too. The standard lightstrip has 84 LEDs per metre, with a 50/50 split between warm and cool LEDs.

Nanoleaf says that the new Essentials range are the first smart lighting products to work with Thread. Thread is a low power, low latency mesh network that promises better connectivity for smart devices. Nanoleaf plans to use this technology to add additional features such as music synchronisation and Hue-like colour scenes in future software updates, currently scheduled for December. To take advantage of Thread you’ll need to have a border router, such as a HomePod mini, that connects a Thread network to the rest of your home network.

The Nanoleaf Essentials range is available now from Apple Stores and online from

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (