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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Face to face: Nanoleaf Skylight versus Aqara Ceiling Mild T1M — which is one of the best sensible ceiling mild?

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For too lengthy, color-changing smart lighting has been caught inside bulbs and light-weight strips, limiting its use to desk lamps, the occasional recessed can mild, and perhaps lighting up the underside of your cupboards. However with these two new sensible ceiling lights from Aqara and Nanoleaf, we lastly have extra selections past Philips Hue’s line of ceiling lights for bringing related, colourful mild to our ceilings.

Sensible fixtures — that are hardwired to your property’s electrical wiring — allow you to add tunable white and color-changing lighting to areas the place there are not any lamps or recessed lighting for sensible bulbs or simple spots to stay sensible mild strips. As with all sensible lights, you may set schedules and join them to movement sensors and different sensible dwelling gadgets to robotically flip them on and off.

These new lights from Nanoleaf and Aqara add dynamic lighting, one thing even Hue hasn’t provided in its ceiling fixtures to this point. These are among the many first sensible ceiling fixtures to convey addressable lighting to the ceiling, permitting management of coloration, temperature, hue, and brightness, plus the power to show a number of colours concurrently. 

The $149.99 Aqara Ceiling Light T1M is a tunable white mild fixture with a color-changing LED ring that includes 26 individually addressable zones. The $249.99 Nanoleaf Skylight are tunable white and full-color modular ceiling LED mild panels, every able to displaying completely different colours and tunable white mild.

I put these two new ceiling lights to the check, pitting them in opposition to one another to see who got here out on high. I assessed their design, price, and choices for sensible dwelling management, in addition to how simple they had been to put in. I examined their mild high quality and the way nicely they every executed their distinctive means to supply dynamic lighting results.

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After testing them concurrently for 2 weeks, I cherished how every product lit up darkish areas of my home the place I beforehand relied on a single sensible bulb in an historical ceiling fixture. However it is a head-to-head, so there needed to be a winner. Learn on to search out out which one got here out on high.

Design: hospital stylish vs. a conventional look

The Aqara T1M has a extra conventional design — it seems to be like a pleasant, high-end ceiling mild. However the Nanoleaf brings one thing very distinctive to the ceiling. Designed to really feel like a bodily skylight in your ceiling, the Nanoleaf has a flush-mounted sq. design. It’s modular so it may be as huge as you need it to be — able to lighting up something from a small hall to a ballroom.

The Nanoleaf is available in a starter equipment with three panels for $249.99, and you’ll prepare these to your liking. Just one panel must be wired, and you’ll add as much as 99 extra panels to create a ceiling full of sunshine. (Be warned: a single panel prices $70, in order that could possibly be a $7,000 ceiling.)

I had a three-pack to play with, so I created a geometrical design with two panels aspect by aspect and the opposite centered within the center. Initially, I wished to place them in a row, like a skylight, however my paramedic husband mentioned it could seem like a hospital. 

The T1M (left) and the Skylight (proper).

He wasn’t mistaken. When tuned to full white, the hallway did resemble an OR. However after I modified it to one of many firm’s pretty lighting results, the Nanoleaf was stunning, resembling an precise skylight. Nonetheless, when the sunshine is off, the white plastic design of the panels isn’t enticing; every one is chunky and plain with particular hospital vibes. 

The Aqara Ceiling Mild T1M is much less colourful, smaller, and extra traditional-looking than the Nanoleaf Skylight. It’s 20 inches spherical and three inches deep and sits flush to the ceiling. It’s comprised of two lights: a most important mild and a hoop mild, and its dimension makes it good for rooms as much as about 200 sq. ft.

Whereas the Nanoleaf makes a a lot greater assertion, the Aqara will slot in higher in additional areas. 

Mild high quality: Nanoleaf is tremendous brilliant, however Aqara is smoother 

Darkish spots within the panels could be a bit distracting, though not as noticeable within the Skylight as they’re in Nanoleaf’s wall panels.

Each lights give off 1400 lumens, however for the Nanoleaf, that’s per panel, that means you’re getting 4200 lumens — that’s a lotta mild.

The Nanoleaf additionally provides full coloration and tunable white mild on every panel. Whereas the Aqara’s most important mild is proscribed to tunable white mild, the colour comes from the individually controllable ring mild with 26 individually addressable zones that includes full-color LEDs (however no tunable white). 

Each lights dim right down to virtually imperceptible ranges and ramp as much as super-bright white mild and acceptably brilliant colours. The Nanoleaf Skylight is noticeably brighter, because of its three panels, however the T1M provides off a softer, extra diffuse mild from its most important and ring mild. You don’t see any pinprick LEDs or shadows, whereas the Skylight has some seen darker areas that may seem like black spots. (This is a matter with the corporate’s Shapes and Canvas panels, too.) 

Aqara’s mild has a extra conventional look however with high-tech options.

Aqara’s mild additionally works with Apple’s HomeKit Adaptive lighting, a function of Apple House (so iPhone solely) that robotically adjusts the white hue of appropriate lights all through the day, going from cool bluish whites within the early morning to heat orangey whites within the night. (Solely the primary mild responds to adaptive lighting; the ring mild doesn’t have tunable white mild.)

The Nanoleaf Skylight doesn’t work with adaptive lighting and even with the Nanoleaf app’s Circadian lighting function (which is proscribed to its Essentials range). Nevertheless, it does have the choice of scheduling its numerous daylight-mimicking scenes, like “Blue Skies” and “Golden Hour,” to create an analogous impact to Adaptive Lighting.

I set schedules within the Nanoleaf app to have these scenes ramp up brightness over an hour to simulate pure mild, and this labored nicely. But it surely’s not as simple as utilizing HomeKit’s possibility — the place you simply choose adaptive lighting as soon as, and it adjusts robotically all through the day. Setting schedules within the Nanoleaf app is fiddly, with the app consuming mine a number of instances. The dynamic scenes are additionally extra impactful than common mild bulbs adjusting their hue, and at instances, I discovered them a bit distracting.

Lighting results: Nanoleaf dazzles, Aqara falls brief

Aqara’s coloration lighting results are restricted to its Ring mild, which is managed individually from the primary tunable white mild.

Colour is the place the Skylight excels; every panel can show over 16 million colours and dynamic lighting results that circulate, flash, pulse, and soften in dizzying mild dances.

Nanoleaf mainly invented dynamic lighting results, and it blows Aqara out of the water in terms of the sheer quantity and impressiveness of its preset results. A lot of which might additionally sync in time to ambient music or sound, one thing Aqara’s can’t.

Nanoleaf launched some new Scenes with the Skylight, together with “Mild Rain,” “Solar Bathe,” and “Blue Skies,” that are designed to imitate the outside and make the Skylight really feel like a skylight. Most of those are dynamic in that they shift colours to completely different flows, and this could be a bit distracting. The panels don’t have addressable LEDS, so your entire panel adjustments coloration to create the impact.


These press photos from Nanoleaf present how the Skylight’s design turns into extra spectacular with extra panels.
Picture: Nanoleaf

In distinction, Aqara’s tunable white results paired with the ring mild and its six individually addressable zones had been general calmer and extra appropriate for a family not obsessive about RGB lighting. It additionally provides extra performance with the choice to arrange automations to make use of the ring mild as a notification mild — for instance, flash crimson when an Aqara alarm system is triggered or when the Aqara G4 video doorbell rings.

Each apps allow you to design your personal lighting results, however Nanoleaf’s AI-powered Magic Scene creator made this very easy. I simply typed in “Sunday Morning,” and it conjured up a soothing palette of heat pinks and beiges intermingled with white, and “Tropical Paradise” created a enjoyable sea of turquoise, blues, and greens. Very Little Mermaid

Value, connectivity, and compatibility: a hub provides to Aqara’s price, however Nanoleaf is simply costly

The Aqara T1M is the extra reasonably priced possibility at $150. The Nanoleaf begins at $250, however you get thrice the sunshine in comparison with the T1M. The value escalates shortly — a four-pack prices $420, to a 12-pack that prices $880.

Nevertheless, as a result of the T1M makes use of the Zigbee wi-fi protocol, it requires an Aqara Hub. The most affordable appropriate Aqara Hub is the $30 E1 — bringing the whole worth to $180. However the TM1 works with any Zigbee 3.0 Aqara Hub, together with the upcoming Hub M3, which can be a Thread border router and Matter controller for Aqara’s platform. 

Nanoleaf makes use of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, so it doesn’t want an extra hub. It might someday be a hub. It has a Thread radio on board and could be a Thread border router, which might permit Nanoleaf’s Thread merchandise, similar to its Necessities line, to connect with it. Nanoleaf hasn’t turned this functionality on but; the corporate tells me it would are available an replace later this 12 months. 

Wi-Fi can nonetheless be an unreliable protocol for lights, and in testing, whereas the Skylight by no means dropped offline, I had frequent hassle controlling it with the Nanoleaf app, which is gradual and buggy and crashes always or requires restarts. In distinction, Aqara’s Zigbee connectivity was rock strong, and its app was crash-free.

Each lights are appropriate with all main sensible dwelling platforms, together with Amazon Alexa, Google House, and Apple HomeKit. Solely the T1M helps Matter (with an Aqara hub). Nanoleaf says it plans to convey Matter help to all its panel merchandise “quickly.” 

Set up: rent an electrician (however Aqara is less complicated)

Anytime you are messing with electrical energy in a ceiling, I’d extremely suggest hiring a professional. Nevertheless, in case you are going for it, then putting in the T1M was the simplest.

It’s basically the identical as putting in an ordinary ceiling fixture; after turning the facility off on the breaker, I pulled the wires in my ceiling by means of a small gap in the primary lamp and connected it to the ceiling with three screws utilizing a drill. The three wires (dwell wire, floor, and impartial) then slot into {an electrical} connector within the lamp. Lastly, I put the glass diffuser over the lamp, twisting it into place.  

Putting in the Skylight was far more arduous; lining up the panels wasn’t simple — and there’s no template to comply with. With 4 screws for every panel, I ended up with numerous holes in my ceiling, and connecting the 2 wires required between every panel was actually fiddly to do whereas standing on a ladder.

Management: Aqara efficiently solves the dumb change conundrum 

Should you set up a sensible mild fixture on an everyday mild change, it would lose all performance when that change is off. Whereas sensible lights usually don’t play nicely with most sensible switches, Aqara and Nanoleaf have each discovered methods round this.

The T1M may be paired with a $35 wired Aqara Smart Switch, set to its wi-fi change mode. This retains energy flowing to the sunshine even when somebody turns the change off, leaving it controllable within the app or with voice. Nevertheless, it doesn’t permit for dimming; that needs to be finished within the app or with voice. Nanoleaf’s new Sense Plus smart switches will work with the Skylight and permit for dimming, however they aren’t out there but. (Nanoleaf says they’re coming later this year.) 

For each lights, a smart button or scene controller that works in your chosen platform might be the simplest possibility for bodily management, particularly when you don’t need to mess with extra wiring. However Aqara wins right here for now as a result of you may really purchase its bodily controller.

The Aqara T1M will match nicely in any room.

Which is greatest?

The Aqara is the winner when you’re in search of an reasonably priced, easy-to-install sensible ceiling mild that works with all the key sensible dwelling platforms. Its reliability and bodily management possibility additionally make it a more sensible choice.

However the Nanoleaf is the splashier, fancier mild, with tons of of scenes, the choice of music sync, and the power to pair with Nanoleaf’s other dynamic lighting products to essentially RGB-up your life. (Aqara’s solely different dynamic lighting product is its T1 Light Strip).

The Nanoleaf can be the higher possibility for filling a big room with mild, because of its modular, expandable design. Whereas it could look nice over a protracted eating desk or kitchen counter, it’s not likely a alternative for a conventional ceiling mild — it has a really completely different aesthetic, one which is perhaps too completely different for lots of people. However when you just like the look, you’ll love this mild.

When you have an even bigger area to light up or are in search of one thing extra distinctive with brighter mild and higher dynamic coloration results, go for the Nanoleaf Skylight. For each different use case, choose the Aqara T1M. 

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