I have lots of different Nanoleaf sets in my home. I’ve tried the Canvas sets, Shapes, Elements, and more. So I say this with no small authority: Nanoleaf’s limited edition Shapes Ultra Black Triangles is the best-looking set ever from the company. Buy them right now while they’re still available.
Nanoleaf is celebrating years as a company, and for its “Nanoversary,” it released a limited number of Shapes Ultra Black Triangles. If you’re wondering what “limited edition” means exactly, a Nanoleaf rep tells me that the company only made 1,000 globally. Are you interested in the Nanoleaf? Do you like the pretty pictures you see? Go buy them right now before they sell out, then come back and finish the rest of the review.
For everyone else, here’s everything you need to know.
Here's What We Like
- Everything is better than black
- Easy to install
And What We Don't
- App needs work
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Nanoleaf has already earned a name for some of the most unique and best-looking smart lighting on the market. One of its main lines of products is the Shapes sets. Those come in large Hexagons, Triangles, and Mini-Triangles. You can buy all three sets, and they’ll lock together to create new shapes and designs.
Since those initial sets were released, Nanoleaf has started to play with the look of the lights while they’re off. That’s one of the downsides to most Nanoleaf sets—they’re beautiful when lit up but an ugly white when turned off. The Elements line introduced a wood grain look to the Hexagons, and as a woodworker, I love them. But while the Elements set looks much better when they aren’t lit up than the other Shapes lines, they don’t have all the color options when lit that different Nanoleaf sets enjoy. You just get shades of white.
The limited edition Shapes Ultra Triangles set takes a similar tack but improves on the Elements line. When you turn off the set, they’re a jet black color that should look good on nearly any wall. And when you turn them on, you get the full-color spectrum the rest of the Shapes line enjoys.
And frankly, black is the best look yet for Nanoleaf lights. The white versions are kind of ugly when you don’t have them turned on, and that’s more frequent than you might expect. After all, who wants giant glowy lights in the middle of the night or during movie hour? But the black color? That will look great on nearly any wall. Nanoleaf went all out, too—the linkers, the mounting plates, the controller, and even the power supply are all black. The mounting plate won’t even show when you have everything installed, but it’s a nice touch.
I worried that the black surface would prevent the lights from looking good, but that’s not the case at all. While the Ultra Black triangles don’t seem quite as vibrant as the white model, you get more contrast to the color instead. They look amazing lit up, and it’s fantastic that you can choose any color instead of just shades of white.
The one negative to the Ultra Black color is that it’s a fingerprint magnet. It’s not as visible as the pictures make it seem, but it’s noticeable when you’re close up. Nanoleaf includes a microfiber cleaning cloth in the box, and you’ll want to use it.
If you’re familiar with Nanoleaf sets, then all you need to know is nothing has changed about the process. But for everyone else, the good news is getting Nanoleaf panels onto your wall is pretty straightforward and painless. Getting them off the wall is potentially a different story, but we’ll get into that in a second.
You first need to choose a design you’d like to arrange your triangles in. I recommend doing this on a floor—Nanoleaf does have a visualizer in its app, but I haven’t had great luck with it. Once you’re happy with that, you’ll grab one of the included double-sided mounting tape pieces and apply it to the back of the panel. You’ll find a circular mount on the back, but you don’t want to cover that entirely: hang the tape over the edge slightly.
Attach a linker where the second panel will go and the control panel if you want it here. Then it’s just peeling the paper off the tape and affixing it to the wall. After that, you’ll repeat the steps to make your pattern. Just make sure to attach the “next” linker for the “next panel” to the panel you’re hanging. It’ll make your life easier.
And as for hanging the tape partially off the mount? That’s to help if you need to make changes. You see, Nanoleaf sends powerful tape to hang its sets with. Fully applied, it can easily pull the plaster off a wall if you just try to yank your panels off. So if you need to pull them down for any reason, the first thing to do is pull at an edge of the panel. That will snap off the mounting plate and reveal that edge of tape you left exposed. You can pull that out to remove the tape safely without damaging your wall. It’s a pretty good system Nanoleaf landed on, and my walls appreciate it.
From there, you’ll pair with the app, which is a process that could use work.
Nanoleaf’s app (for iOS and Android) gets the job done, but it’s still the weakest point of the company’s offerings. Take setting up a new device, for instance. It took me the better part of 45 minutes to actually connect the Black Triangles to my Nanoleaf account. It either froze up in the process or, in one case, it overwrote another Shapes set in my home.
Eventually, I got an error message that suggested I just needed to restart my phone, which worked. But that took too long. I’ve never been satisfied with the app because it doesn’t work great for controlling the lights. More often than not, it can’t connect to my Nanoleaf sets despite having a Wi-Fi connection and a Thread mesh network between them.
When it connects to them immediately, I often see slow responses. I can tap the toggle for a room group and see nothing happen. The same can go for trying to interact with a set. Sometimes everything will work fine for a week. Then other days, like today, I will have trouble getting any of my Nanoleaf sets to connect to the app.
More often than not, I just use the controllers on the lights directly. Those work without fail, and once you have all the scenes you like loaded, it’s easy to flip through them. And despite my complaints about app control, voice control through Google Assistant and Alexa work very well, so that’s my other goto.
The app itself, beyond that, looks fine. Having room groups is nice, and discovering new light scenes is easy. Nanoleaf is always adding more, and user-made light scenes show in the list too. You can make your own scenes, and the process is easy, if not tedious. The one thing I couldn’t figure out how to do is skip lighting up panels. That’d be an excellent addition to show lit colors and black panels. I doubt Nanoleaf will add that option since this is a limited edition set. For now, I’ve settled on limiting the glow to nearly nothing on the panels I want to show through as black.
Despite my complaints about the app, I love having Nanoleaf panels in my home. I’ve learned to work around the app issue, and the lights themselves are beautiful. Whenever I have a guest over, the first thing they ask about is the various Nanoleaf sets they see.
That makes just about any set from the company easy to recommend. But the Ultra Black Triangles set is simply the best-looking kit from Nanoleaf yet. They look amazing when you have scenes filtering through the lights. And better yet, they still look amazing when they’re not lit up.
My biggest complaint about them (besides the app) is the limited edition nature. A Nanoleaf rep told me that only 1,000 units are available. If you’ve made it this far in the review, you may have waited too long. “Limited edition” means “once they’re gone, they’re gone.” I hope that doesn’t happen here. I want more of these panels in different shapes. Maybe if these sell fast enough, Nanoleaf will consider making more. A man can dream.
You can buy Shapes Ultra Black Triangles directly from the Nanoleaf site while supplies last. The nine-panel start kit costs $219.99, while an add-on three-panel expansion pack will set you back $69.99.
Here’s What We Like
- Everything is better than black
- Easy to install
And What We Don't
- App needs work