The best smart outdoor string light: Nanoleaf versus LIFX

I’ve tried a lot of alternative ways to gentle up the patio in my yard so I can get pleasure from sitting exterior into the wee hours. Every thing from fairy lights to path lights to plain string lights has been wrapped across the myrtles or dug into the borders. However none have survived greater than a few scorching South Carolina summers. So, I used to be excited to check two new sensible outside string lights from Nanoleaf and Lifx.

The Nanoleaf Matter Good Multicolor Outside String Lights ($129.99 for a 49-foot string with 20 bulbs) and Lifx Outside SuperColor String Lights ($129 for a 24-foot gentle string with 12 bulbs) each characteristic individually addressable full-color and tunable white LED bulbs and are able to gradient lighting results. This makes them tremendous versatile. I can have a inexperienced and gold-themed St. Paddy’s Day occasion in March, a purple, white, and blue-themed Fourth of July bash, and a stunning mushy candlelight white for dinner al fresco anytime. 

Each are appropriate with all main sensible house platforms, so I can set the lights on schedules, management them with voice instructions, and have them activate when the patio door opens utilizing a contact sensor. Most significantly, each these manufacturers’ string lights are severely sturdy. After watching them survive a cracking spring storm final week, I’m hopeful that these might be a extra everlasting answer to illuminating my yard.

I examined the Lifx and Nanoleaf head-to-head over two weeks. Learn on to see which got here out on high and which might be a very good match in your backyard this summer season.

How we fee and evaluate merchandise
How we fee and evaluate merchandise

Design and construct high quality: Lifx seems to be good, however Nanoleaf is so sparkly!

These aren’t your mom’s string lights. Nanoleaf and Lifx have gone for daring industrial design, with Nanoleaf constructing on its dodecahedron heritage to provide a stunning gentle bulb. The faceted face creates a stunning impact that appears like a crystal hanging from my timber and is dazzling even when off.

Lifx has gone for an ultra-modern, Tron-style look — a tubular form with a stick of sunshine inside. They’re trendy however with much less aptitude than Nanoleaf’s. I do like that the Lifx bulbs connect on to the string and don’t dangle as far down because the Nanoleaf, making a cleaner look. This makes the Lifx a better option for hanging alongside a construction just like the wall of a porch. 

Each lights really feel strong and sturdy, and the acrylic bulbs don’t break when dropped. The cables and plugs are equally tremendous heavy-duty, being weatherproof and holding as much as tough dealing with throughout set up. Neither affords replaceable bulbs, but when a bulb goes dangerous, each string lights are lined below two-year warranties.

Lifx tunable white gentle goes all the way down to a stunning heat glow — a lot softer than Nanoleaf’s.

Mild high quality: Lifx has severe vary

The Lifx’s shade rendering and tunable white gentle are very spectacular. With a shade rendering index (CRI) of 90 and white gentle that goes from wealthy, heat candlelight at 1500 Kelvins to an icy blue cool white at 9000 Kelvins, the Lifx has higher shade and a broader vary of white than Nanoleaf (80CRI and 2700K to 6500K). 

Lifx on the left, Nanoleaf on the proper.

Its colours are additionally extra saturated; purple on the Lifx is actually purple, whereas on the Nanoleaf, it’s extra pink and softer. However whereas brighter is often higher in a lightweight bulb, I’d argue that accent gentle in your backyard is one place you in all probability don’t want to go for the brightest. 

Lighting results and options: Lifx’s shade mixing is mind-bending

Every Lifx bulb has three addressable zones that mix collectively in an virtually magical manner. It’s exhausting to pinpoint which shade you’re seeing; as an alternative, it’s only a mushy ambiance, a welcome change from jarring multicolor results on most addressable lighting I’ve examined.

Whereas the Nanoleaf bulbs can solely present one shade at a time per bulb, the reduce glass design does create an array of various shades. Nanoleaf’s scenes also can cycle by way of completely different colours to offer an identical impact to the Lifx, however Lifx’s know-how is best.

Lifx’s shade mixing is technically very spectacular. (Sure. Photographing lights at evening is difficult.)

Lifx additionally has extra choices for flashier results. Choices like twinkle, shade cycle, strobe, and morph created a enjoyable ambiance on my patio, and I may regulate options like pace, colours, and path. Lifx has an honest library of colourful lighting designs and I actually just like the artwork sequence impressed by items equivalent to Van Gogh’s The Starry Evening.  

Nonetheless, Nanoleaf has many extra designs to select from, together with a whole bunch of user-generated ones. A handful have been created only for the string lights; my favorites have been Sundown Sky, which cycled by way of heat reds and oranges, and Twilight, with crisp whites and mushy grays.

I may create my very own designs in each apps, with Lifx’s being the best to make use of. Nanoleaf’s app is messy and crashes rather a lot, however its new AI scene generator makes it simpler to create new designs with out struggling by way of the app.

Lifx’s app additionally has primary features like setting schedules, which is frustratingly not an possibility with Nanoleaf — to set a schedule, you must use a third-party sensible house platform.

That’s a lotta lights! The Nanoleafs are available most of 147 ft with 60 bulbs (that is 98 ft with 40 bulbs).

Price: Nanoleaf is cheaper and longer

Whereas each string lights begin at $130, for that Nanoleaf provides you 20 bulbs on virtually 50 ft in comparison with simply 12 bulbs over 24 ft on the Lifx (30 ft together with the ability wire). The Lifx are nearer collectively, although, at 23 inches aside in comparison with 28 inches for Nanoleaf. 

Nanoleaf is the higher deal, particularly for a big space like my patio. The 98-foot string with 40 bulbs is $200, and the 147-foot string with 60 bulbs is $300. As compared, the utmost size of the Lifx — three strings collectively, totaling 74 ft and 36 bulbs — prices virtually $400. 

I put in the Nanoleaf and Lifx the identical distance from my router. The Lifx linked simply however the Nanoleaf struggled.

Connectivity and compatibility: Nanoleaf has extra connection choices, however Lifx is extra dependable (up to now)

The Nanoleaf and Lifx lights work over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. Whereas the Lifx linked simply, I struggled to get the Nanoleaf on the identical community, despite the fact that each lights have been arrange in the identical location. Finally, transferring the router nearer to the Nanoleaf labored.

Each lights will work with Apple Dwelling, Google Dwelling, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung SmartThings. As a part of Nanoleaf’s Matter Necessities line, the Nanoleaf string lights hook up with sensible house platforms by way of Matter-over-Wi-Fi. This implies it really works with any Matter-compatible platform. Nonetheless, you’ll need a Matter controller to attach.

Lifx depends on particular person integrations with every platform, so it really works with fewer however doesn’t require any further {hardware}. Lifx says a firmware improve will carry the choice of Matter-over-Wi-Fi compatibility later this yr.

As is par for the course with Matter and me, it took a number of makes an attempt to get the Nanoleaf lights onto a Matter platform. I wasn’t in a position to join in any respect utilizing my iPhone 15. Finally, with a Samsung Galaxy S22 I linked to SmartThings and, from there, efficiently shared the lights with Apple Dwelling and Amazon Alexa utilizing Matter’s multi-admin characteristic. You don’t have to make use of Matter with the Nanoleaf; you may join on to the Nanoleaf app over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, however you’ll need Matter for sensible house integrations.

Colour-changing lights are a enjoyable addition to the backyard.

Each these string lights will make spring sparkle

These are each very good string lights. They’re costly however constructed to final. Whereas Lifx has higher lighting results and an easier-to-use app, the Nanoleaf has the sting when it comes to total look. The bulb form is simply beautiful and appears so good in my yard. Whereas not as brilliant as Lifx, the whites and colours present greater than sufficient richness and heat for ambient outside lighting. Lifx’s results and shade mixing are very spectacular, however Nanoleaf’s mushy, sparkly glow gained me over. Plus, it’s extra reasonably priced. 

Each Lifx and Nanoleaf produce other sensible outside lighting choices, so you may sync their lighting results throughout your entire panorama. Nonetheless, Philips Hue has the largest outside choice (though, unusually, no string lights).

There are additionally different choices for sensible string lights, together with these from Govee, Twinkly, and Wiz. However these are all the normal spherical bulb shapes. Nanoleaf and Lifx have added distinctive twists to the outside string gentle look, and each have accomplished it very properly.

Pictures by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge


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