Nanoleaf Canvas Review
Smart lighting is typically a first purchase for a smart home buyer, but the Nanoleaf Canvas is not your typical smart lighting. When you think of smart lighting, the first thing that comes to mind is a G10 or a normal lamb bulb and I have reviewed many of them now. So when I was given the opportunity to review the Nanoleaf Canvas, I was excited to see what this alternate lighting solution could offer.
What is Nanoleaf Canvas
The Nanoleaf Canvas is a touch-sensitive panel smart lighting system providing an interactive light installation that goes on the wall or ceiling.
Nanoleaf Canvas is a set of smart panels and not your traditional lighting solution compared to other products I have reviewed. The smart light offering from Nanoleaf is a decorative piece or wall art rather than something you would use to illuminate the room like you would with say a Tradfri bulb.
Nanoleaf Canvas review in pictures
Unboxing the Nanoleaf Canvas
The Nanoleaf canvas retails at £179/$248 and you get 9 light panels for that price. In the retail box you get the following;
- 8 x Light Squares
- 1 x Control Square (also works as a Light Square)
- 1 x Power Supply
- 9 x Linkers for connecting the Nanoleaf Canvas together
- 28 x Double-sided adhesive tap
- 1 x Manual
You can buy additional add-on packs for £69 for 4 extra squares, but for this review we will focus on the Nanoleaf Canvas smarter kit.
Design of the Nanoleaf Canvas
- 150 x 150 panel size
- Connectors on the rear
- Master panel with built in control panel a bonus
The light panels in the starter kit are a square design and measure 150 x 150mm. Each panel has four connectors on the rear. Nanoleaf has arranged them to line up the light panels to create straight lines or you create different patterns.
The master panel which is one that features the physical controls, more on them later. This panel also has a built-in microphone to change light colour in response to your music.
The remaining 8 panels look like normal wall tiles at first glance, but on the rear you get the same linker connector slots along with the area to place the sticky fixers.
Nanoleaf Canvas Setup and install
- Easy to install
- App sync is painless
- Sticky fixer’s are one use only
While the Nanoleaf Canvas comes with a quick start guide, it only took a quick glance to figure out how to install the panels. You connect the Canvas squares together using the Linker card that plugs into the connecting sockets on the back of the panels. You can add up to 500 panels, but you need one power supply per 25 squares.
My advice is to build the configuration you want on a flat surface such as a table, then transfer it to the wall one panel at a time,. Another bit of advice would be to place each sticky fixer on the tiles in one go.
One thing to point out, the sticky fixers supplied are one use only, so moving the panels around is not something you want to be doing often.
When setting up the Nanoleaf Canvas, I connected panels to the app before I mounted them on the wall. This way I got to resolve any issues before fixing them to the wall.
For this review, I used an iPhone. But you can use it with Android. You connect the Canvas to the app by scanning the HomeKit code. You can use HomeKit NFC, but it didn’t seem to work for me.
Once you have established a connection, you assign the Canvas to the room in HomeKit and then you are good to go.
Touch control and app
- 3 ways to control the Canvas
- Gesture controls
- App is feature rich
You can operate the Nanoleaf Canvas in a variety of ways, meaning you only need to use the app for advanced configuration. Wherever it’s with the touch-sensitive buttons, gesture control by touching the panels with your fingers.
Starting with the control panel, you can switch between rhythm mode and shuffle and select colour scenes and change brightness settings. You also can power off the device when not in use.
Using these controls can be tricky depending on where you have located the Canvas, so I used the Home App for HomeKit or the Nanoleaf app most of the time.
Touch and gestures
Touch support on the Nanoleaf Canvas works in 2 ways The first being when you tap a panel, it responds by either illuminating the panel or sends out a ripple across the Canvas, all depending on the scene selected
You can also play simple colour games like Simon, Whack-a-Mole, and memory tests are available to launch via the app. I found these games worked ok, but you need to read the instructions on how to start them.
You can also control the panels by using Gesture controls. The gestures need to be setup in the Nanoleaf app before you can use them, so it’s not a out of the box feature. This allows you to control scene and brightness changes through swipes on a light square. You can also turn the Canvas off and on using double taps.
Its worth point out that frequently the panels would not respond to taps to turn on and gestures.
It’s through the Nanoleaf app that you get more control over the system. In the dashboard tab within the app, you can customise the light panels to your desire.
Nanoleaf has split the dashboard into multiple options, giving you lots of customisation options.
The basic option allows you create scenes using “warm White” ‘Reading light” and “daylight” You can also alter the brightness of the basic colours
In the colour tab, you get the colour scenes that will mix the light panels up offering multiple colour options. These offer very dynamic colour light options
The Nanoleaf Canas has a built-in microphone to flash the panels in time to your music using the chosen colour scene you have selected. So in this area you can select the colour scene you want to use with the music sync.
When testing this out, the feature worked well to the different music combinations I tested out.
The interactive area is where you will select the various you can download to play on the Nanoleaf Canvas.
If you want to get a little more advanced, you can also edit scenes and create your own. By pressing the “paint Bucket” symbol at the top right of the app. It presents you with a colour wheel, advanced white control and even options to specify a specific RBG colour ranges using colour codes.
The stand out feature me in the advanced area is the “scene creator” this allows you to paint each canvas tile with an individual colour. You can also go more advanced by setting the speed and delay in the light timing along with other advanced options.
If you just want to use the Nanoleaf Canvas without getting deep into the settings, you can use the discover tab to download pre-made scenes. You can download scenes for colour, Rhythm and interactive games.
HomeKit support on Nanoleaf Canvas
Support for the Nanoleaf Canvas in the Home app is exactly the same you would get for any light source. The Canvas is exposed to HomeKit as any other smart light device.
You get the option to control the brightness within the Home app. You can also pick colours or use the colour wheel to select a custom colour.
As with any other smart light device in HomeKit, you can add the Canvas to automations and scenes or control the lights using Siri voice commands.
Nanoleaf Canvas review verdict
I came into the Nanoleaf Canvas review with an open mind because of already formed opinion on the design elements of the Canvas looking cheap and 80s disco. Unfortunately, this has not changed having them in my home. The Nanoleaf Canvas looks cheap and tacky when you compare it to other smart light products on the market at the moment.
This takes me onto my 2nd issue with Nanoleaf Canvas, they are not cheap for what you get in the pack. A starter kit starts at £179/$249 for only 9 panels and you can’t really do much in terms of design. Then an extra 4 panels is £70/$90, which gives you a little more design options.
But to get anywhere near the promo shots found on the Nanoleaf website, you will need to spend at least £600/$750. That’s a huge amount of cash to splash on smart lighting, that looks cheap.
However, that being said it’s not all bad with the Nanoleaf Canvas. The installation is very easy along with setting up with your smartphone. The app is feature rich and gives you some advanced options. I also liked the advanced light painting options and the ability to have more control over the colour and panels.
The bottom line for the Nanoleaf Canvas, if you are looking for the 80s look in your living space then this could be a great option. But be prepared to spend the cash to get the design you need.