Nanoleaf is an innovative Canadian smart lighting company that is especially well known for being a pioneer in flat panel smart lighting systems. This approach elevates smart lights to an entirely different level. Instead of being an LED light bulb or collection of LED light bulbs, Nanoleaf panels transform smart lighting into custom decor—even art. The panels interlock and adhere to a wall. They can be used to create elaborate light displays and designs that can transform the room they’re in. Some Nanoleaf panels even respond to touch! They’re compatible with all the major digital assistants and smart home standards, plus IFTTT. One of the coolest things about the Nanoleaf flat panel smart lighting systems is that they can be expanded over time.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking to expand your Nanoleaf setup.
Three distinct series of panels
Over the past several years, Nanoleaf has released three distinct series of panels.
The original consisted of large triangular panels. These were known as Nanoleaf Aurora, but the name was changed to Nanoleaf Light Panels. These are still available, and you can read my review of them here if interested.
In 2019, Nanoleaf launched the Canvas series. These are square light panels. Besides the new shape, Canvas introduced touch control. Nanoleaf Canvas panels don’t just light up, they can respond to touch and even be used to play simple games. For all the details on Nanoleaf Canvas Smart Lighting Panels, here’s my review from 2019.
In 2020, Nanoleaf introduced Shapes. This is the panel series that offers the most flexibility in terms of design because, as the name suggests, there is more than one shape available. Nanoleaf Shapes Panels are sold as Hexagons, Triangles, and Mini Triangles. For the first time, different shapes can be combined in a single Nanoleaf panel setup. Here’s my review of the Hexagons from the Shapes series.
This is probably the most confusing part about expanding a Nanoleaf setup. You need to know which panels you currently own, and you need to stay within that series as they are not physically interchangeable. For example, you can’t connect Canvas panels to Shapes or Nanoleaf Light Panels.
Every panel series starts with a Smarter Kit
For those looking to begin their Nanoleaf setup, every series offers what is called a “Smarter Kit.” This is basically Nanoleaf-speak for a starter kit, and it contains everything you need to create your first installation. Inside you’ll find panels (either five, seven, or nine, depending on the series), linkers for connecting the panels, a power supply, a controller (with an integrated microphone), and two-way tape for attaching the panels to the walls.
The most affordable package to start out with is the Nanoleaf Shapes Mini Triangle Smarter Kit, which includes five panels.
Within each series are optional panel expansion packs. These are what you’re looking for if you have an existing nanoleaf panel setup that you’d like to expand. Each includes three light panels plus linkers and two-way mounting tape. Just remember to stay within the same series—if you already have a Nanoleaf Light Panels Smarter Kit, you’ll be looking for a Nanoleaf Light Panels Expansion Pack.
Power supplies and control units
Every Nanoleaf series also has requirements for power supplies and control units that will impact expansion. For most people this won’t be an issue. However, if you are planning an expansive installation, then you’ll need to keep this in mind.
With the Nanoleaf Light Panels, the maximum number of panels the controller (which doubles as the power supply in this case) can support is 30. So, that’s your upper limit: 30 panels per installation.
The Canvas series has a built-in controller on one Control Square that’s included in the Smarter Kit. That controller can support an installation of up to 500 Squares. Nanoleaf recommends one power supply for every 25 Canvas Squares, so large installations will have a single controller but multiple power supplies. Power supplies can connect to any Square that has a free connection slot, so you have a fairly high degree of flexibility in how you set this up.
The Nanoleaf Shapes series is slightly more complicated. Like the Canvas, one controller is all that’s needed for up to 500 panels. However, because the Shapes series comes in different sizes (each drawing different amounts of power), figuring out the maximum panels per power supplier is a little more complicated. The power supply included in the Shapes Hexagon Smarter Kit can power up to 22 Hexagon panels. However, that same power supply can control up to 77 Shapes Mini Triangle panels. When you combine different Shapes panels, you need to account for the varying power requirements, though if you’re at 22 panels or fewer, that’s not an issue. Additional power supplies can be connected to any Shapes panel that has a free connection slot.
Nanoleaf also offers extras that can add flexibility to your setup. Flexible linkers are available for the Canvas and Light Panels. These are cool because they let you wrap an installation around a corner. There is also a very unique Nanoleaf remote that you can read my review of here.
Planning is key to a Nanoleaf setup
At this point, it’s probably obvious that planning is important if you want to expand your Nanoleaf setup. It’s definitely become a bit more complicated since the original Light Panels were released. Fortunately, Nanoleaf has really brought its A-game to help out.
Nanoleaf tools: Layout Assistant, Heat Map, and Scenes
Nanoleaf support offers a calculator for use with Shapes panels. Input the number of each shape of panel, and it will calculate how many power supplies are needed. Squares and Shapes also have controller button combinations that will put the panels in a “Heat Map” mode so that you can see the optimal spot to connect an additional power supply.
The Nanoleaf mobile app is also extremely useful. It has all the features to make your Nanoleaf installation shine, including a large selection of Colour and Rythym scenes. The Scenes feature is the way you can co-ordinate multiple Nanoleaf setups by the way, even if they are not physically interchangeable. With scenes you can at least have them showing a coordinated lighting pattern. The app also has a Layout Assistant that lets you design creations virtually so you can see what they will look like before committing them to the wall.
Once you create your design, the app also scans your panels to detect the layout, then optimizes the lighting effects so your design looks its best.
The final thing to keep in mind is that typically you will be sticking these panels to your wall. Nanoleaf includes two-way tape, but even that can be tricky to remove—I’ve had to do it a few times and would rather not repeat the experience. The point is, have fun with your creation, but when you design a Nanoleaf setup, it pays to think ahead about potential expansion.
Nanoleaf smart lights make a great addition to any home. You’ll find the company’s Smarter Kits, Expansion Packs, and accessories at Best Buy—everything you need to create a customized Nanoleaf Panels setup, and everything you need to expand it.