Nanoleaf Aurora is the unique, smart lighting solution from the Toronto-based, Canadian green tech company. Nanoleaf’s Aurora ditches the traditional lightbulb form factor in favour of flat, triangular LED panels. They click together to form patterns and shapes, and come with 3M Command strips, so they can be easily wall mounted. Your light creations can then display a range of solid colours or patterns. With the recently released Rhythm module, the Nanoleaf panels can even turn into a giant music visualizer. Plug-in’s Erin Lawerence is a fan (you can read her review here). So am I, ever since I tested the Aurora Rythym Smarter LED Light Panel Kit last fall.
Between Erin and myself, I believe we’ve established the Nanoleaf Aurora smart lighting is pretty cool. But it gets better. Did you realize that it’s easily expandable? Not only can you switch up the configuration if you decide you want a different look—thanks to the use of Command strips for mounting—you can also add additional panels at any time to expand your setup.
Easy Expansion With Nanoleaf Aurora Kits
Any Nanoleaf Aurora setup starts with one of the Smarter Kits, which include the required power supply and controller unit. That means most people will be starting out with either nine or 15 panels. That’s enough to have some fun with, but … Nanoleaf makes it easy to expand your setup, up to 30 panels per controller. And you don’t need to do it in one shot.
Besides the large kits, Nanoleaf offers economical three-packs of Aurora panels that let you grow your creation a bit at a time. If you started with an original Nanoleaf Aurora kit, you might want to consider skipping the three-pack, and instead go with one of the Smarter Kits, as they include the Rhythm module that snaps on to give the option of the lights pulsing to the beat of your music.
Each pack—three, nine, or 15—contains everything you need: the LED panels themselves, the Linkers used to connect panels, adhesive strips, and even stencils that make it easy to lay out a design before committing to it. If you want to get really creative, Linkers are also sold in Flexible versions that let you add gaps between panels, or even wrap around corners.
Start With Planning, the App Makes it Easy
Nanoleaf’s mobile app (for iOS and Android) makes it easy to play around with design options. Simply enter the number of Aurora panels you have to work with, then drag them around until you come up with something you’re happy with. The only real ‘gotcha’ is that adding a panel to close an existing circle is challenging to do after the fact (because you still need a Linker in there to connect). This is the point where you might decide that now is the time to start from scratch with an all new design.
In my case, I didn’t have a lot of free wall space in my office, so I started my Nanoleaf Aurora setup over the top and side of a closet door. As I add expansion panels, the plan is to move down the side wall, so the smart lights frame the closet.
Once you have the design you want in the app, it’s time to move into real life. First, clean the wall where you’ll be mounting the new panels to ensure the adhesive sticks. When it’s dry, I suggest using masking tape to mount the supplied panel stencils. This lets you confirm that your design will fit in the intended space, and it gives you a visual guide to follow.
As you can see in the photo on the left, I’ve reached the stage where the stencils are all up, so I’m ready to begin snapping the new panels in and expanding my Nanoleaf installation.
Assemble Your New Creation
Once you’ve come up with a design you’re happy with using the Nanoleaf app, then laid out the stencils to confirm your design will fit on the wall (or whatever surface you choose) as planned, it’s time to actually begin assembly.
Actually, one last step. Before you stick anything to the wall (semi) permanently, I suggest you power on the existing Nanoleaf setup and connect each panel in turn to a free slot, with a Linker, to ensure the new panels light up. Not that there’s likely to be a problem, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from decades of hanging up Christmas lights, it’s that checking the bulbs before everything is set up is a heck of a lot easier than trying to deal with an issue after the fact. The same principle holds true when assembling Nanoleaf panels.
Once you’ve confirmed the new panels are functional, it’s a matter of strategically placing the Command strips, sliding and snapping the panels into place, then holding them with a bit of pressure for 30 seconds or so for the adhesive to grab. The assembly goes pretty quickly, at least if you’ve done the prep work and come up with a design first.
The moment of truth is when you fire up your Nanoleaf Aurora to see in person what your new design looks like. Chances are, it’s going to look great. Adding to the cool factor, you don’t even need to push the power button to turn it on, or launch the Nanoleaf app (although both are options). Instead, you can just tell Siri or Google Assistant to do it for you.
Nanoleaf automatically adjusts the lighting patterns to reflect your expanded design.
If you decide that despite all the planning that went into your design it’s not quite right, no worries. You’ll have to pick up some more 3M Command strips, but Nanoleaf makes it easy to take the panels down and re-arrange them. And if you decide to expand your system later on (one of those three-packs makes a great gift for a Nanoleaf fan), you can continue doing so until you hit the magic number of 30 panels. At that point you can start all over again. I’m planning on at least another three-pack to finish off the side wall, but after getting so much use out of the Nanoleaf installation in my office, I’m starting to think the rec room could use some smart lighting, too …
While the Nanoleaf Aurora system is a personal favourite, there are plenty of other smart lighting systems out there. You can find all the big names in smart lighting, including Nanoleaf, Philips Hue, and LIFX at Best Buy.