Nanoleaf Skylights review — A versatile home light solution capable of basic and dynamic lighting

I’m a huge fan of Nanoleaf, having decked out my arcade room a while back with their Lines, Shapes, and Bulb products, so you can imagine my excitement when I was given the chance to check out their latest product, the Nanoleaf Skylight. The Nanoleaf Skylight is a flush-mounted smart ceiling panel capable of producing many of the same mesmerizing light patterns Nanoleaf’s previous products are known for, while also dual-serving as a functional room lighting solution. Nanoleaf Skylights can be purchased in “Smarter Kits” of 3 to 12 panels, with the ability to further expand to 99 interconnected panels. For the purpose of this review I was provided a three panel Smarter Kit.

Unlike Nanoleaf’s previous products which have mainly been removable wall fixtures or light bulbs, the skylight is a semi-permanent lighting fixture, sacrificing some of the versatility of Nanoleaf’s previous products in order to open up their line to a new subset of customers. By semi-permanent I mean that the Skylight is actually installed in place of your ceiling light and must be hardwired, with additional panels fastened into your ceiling via anchors and screws. Obviously this affects how and where this product will be used, as once it is installed most people are not going to want to remove it for many years. To counteract the nervousness some customers may have about hardwiring a Nanoleaf product into their ceiling, Nanoleaf smartly made the Skylights capable of functioning as a perfectly normal overhead light when needed, while also retaining the versatility and programmable light settings of their other products for those times when you want to transform the room into a party area or add some colorful ambience.

Since it is a hardwired product, you may want to look into having an electrician help with the installation, or at the very least make sure you are not alone and have the tools necessary to safely install the light. That said, the installation is fairly straightforward, requiring only a half hour or so to install three panels. A main panel holds the root of the lighting system, and simply takes the place of the existing light source. After the main panel is hardwired in and securely attached to the ceiling, additional panels are connected via small expansion cables to allow the lighting panels to work in tandem, and a longer wire set which connects from the expansion panels to the main unit. Each expansion panel must be attached to the ceiling separately and does require drilling, so it’s best to take some time before installing to confirm a layout plan.

Each panel is fairly large and provides a surprising amount of light, whether in the standard lighting mode, which is capable of both cool and warm whites ranging from 2700K to 6500K, or while showcasing one of the more than 16 million color possibilities. Pre-set dynamic scenes are available via the Nanoleaf app which showcase a wide range of color combinations, from the simple and relaxing “Blue Skies” setting to the colorful “Cosmic Galaxy” which changes patterns based on audio in the room, or to my favorite lighting showcase “Northern Lights” which runs the gamut of nearly every base color available. Each setting is unique and showcases the wide range of colors the Skylight can produce while simultaneously treating those in the room to mesmerizing lighting scenes which are sure to impress no matter the occasion. If none of the settings quite encapsulate the mood you are going for, you can always dive into the app to create your own custom settings, cycle through the various colors, or even dim the lights. Like all Nanoleaf products before the Skylight, its versatility proves to be its strongest asset.

While you can change your light settings at any moment via the app, allowing you to switch up the room’s feel on a whim, you can also take time to set up schedules which coincide with your daily routine. You can wake up to soft and warm ambient lighting and fall asleep to a subtle shooting star pattern if you so wish, or even wake up to a cacophony of bright lights if that helps get the blood flowing for those early mornings. By utilizing the Nanoleaf app you are given the ability to toggle your Skylight on and off even when not at home, helping to cut energy costs or ward off potential intruders should your home security system notify you of a potential threat. Another useful addition to the Skylight is voice control support via your smart home ecosystem, which is not a feature I utilized, but I know will be appreciated by many.

In theory, control of the Skylight is simple – simply download the Nanoleaf app, turn on your Wi-Fi, and add your device via the included QR code. In reality, the Nanoleaf app has always been the most disappointing aspect of Nanoleaf products. Put simply, when it works it provides an experience unlike any other product available, but when it doesn’t – which is quite often in my experience no matter which Nanoleaf product I am using – it can often lead to hours of frustration. From simply refusing to change color selections to not recognizing the device at all, no matter the Nanoleaf product I use the same issues tend to crop up. While I experienced fewer issues with the Skylight than with previous products, I still had a few frustrating moments where the app would not register a color change and simply froze on one setting. Thankfully, since this is a hardwired product, you can set it via the app to always come on either in the last dynamic scene used or as a regular light, meaning that even if you are experiencing issues with the app, the light can still be used. Normally I am lenient about issues such as what I’ve experienced with the app, but after more than eight months with previous Nanoleaf products under my belt, I’ve found little rhyme nor reason as to why these issues occur. Often, issues will simply go away on their own, sometimes after twenty tries, sometimes after one. It’s all very hit and miss. That said, I do still find Nanoleaf products well worth the investment simply for the unique qualities they lend to my rooms.

The good news is the app is the only disappointing aspect about any Nanoleaf product, as the products themselves shine with the Nanoleaf Skylight being no exception. The Skylight showcases a brand unafraid of moving out of their comfort zone and creating a product useful in ways that their previous products were not. By simultaneously working as both a bright and stylish overhead lighting replacement, and as a vibrant and colorful room addition capable of setting any mood, the Skylight proves to be Nanoleaf’s most versatile product yet.

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Richard Allen is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various publications. While he enjoys modern gaming, he is a retro gamer at heart, having been raised on a steady diet of Contra, Mario, and Dragon's Lair.  Chat with him via @thricetheartist on Twitter.



Nanoleaf Skylights

Review Guidelines

The Nanoleaf Skylight highlights the best of what Nanoleaf does, while also showcasing a brand unafraid to step out of their comfort zone to attract a new market. By smartly allowing the Skylight to dual function as both a standard overhead light alongside being capable of producing the dynamic colors and scenes Nanoleaf customers have grown accustomed to, the Nanoleaf Skylight provides versatility which is sure to be appreciated by many homeowners. While the installation is semi-permanent and may require the help of an electrician, and the app doesn’t always function as it should, the Skylight is still a fantastic product well worth the investment and sure to wow homeowners and visitors alike.

Richard Allen

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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