Smart LED light panels are all the rage right now and I can see why. A great set of smart lights can instantly change the ambiance of a space, whether it’s your office or your living room, adding a little bit of flavor to your smart home. When done properly, you also get capabilities like voice control over your intelligent lighting system via your phone or smart speaker. Names like Nanoleaf and Gooey are probably the first to pop up when thinking of wall lights with fancy ambient modes and color customization options.
You will be happy to know that there is a plethora of affordable options in this category. Options like the Cololite Hexagon Lite Plus Kit are about half the price, offered by name brands. There are a few tradeoffs you’ll have to live with, but you still get access to premium features like the Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit integration.
As is the case with most Chinese products, the software side is a bit weak and the physical design could use some work as well. Despite the option to extensively customize every single light module, Cololight had to make compromises somewhere. My review is going to address these problems and assess whether this affordable set of wall light panels is worth your attention.
Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit is accessible to all due to its low price tag. You get satisfactory color payoff, fun in-app options, and voice assistant support. Prepare yourself for a complicated installation process and a finicky companion app though.
About this review: We received the Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit from Cololight for review purposes. Cololight had no input in the content of this review.
Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit: Design and Hardware
Each module in the Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit takes a regular hexagonal shape. The Plus kit comes with a power base, a base mount, multiple hexagonal light panels, and Alexa/Google Assistant/HomeKit support. You can buy this set of smart lights with a single panel or opt for a 7, 9, 12, 15 or 20-pack. Compared to Nanoleaf Shapes Hexagons, which cost around $200 for a set of seven, a 7-pack of Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit is much cheaper at $100.
To put things in perspective, the Govi Glide Hexa Lite panels go for $200, but that version includes 10 panels. The Pro version of the Kololite Hexagon Lite is even cheaper, unlike the Plus kit, coming in at $90 for a 6-pack and $130 for a 10-pack. It lacks HomeKit support, which is a good deal if you’re not in the Apple ecosystem.
As expected, you can always just buy a Kololite Hexagon Light module and expand that later. Since these smart wall lights are modular by design, there’s nothing stopping you from adding more panels over time, up to a total of 255 panels in your kit. Just keep in mind that you will have to buy the 5V/2A power brick separately as there is no wall charger included in the box. Also keep in mind that you may need to purchase additional connectors separately if you decide to upgrade over time.
An individual hexagonal panel is 86 mm by 74.5 mm by 30.5 mm in size. They’re a little smaller than expected, though, so once you’ve added that set of lights it shouldn’t make much difference. What I don’t like is the playful nature of these panels. Whether you want to attach the lights to your wall or keep them as a permanent showpiece, the thick sides are clearly visible and don’t look good.
The lights themselves can produce excellent levels of brightness, and the color payoff is fantastic for what you pay for. The panels have a soft matte finishing on top. This gives the modules a more edge-to-edge connected feel when they are on and the shades appear to flow naturally. The matte coat also reduces the sheer glare of the light panels, making the effect on your eyes more easily.
Each light module in the Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit has a built in microphone for sound responsive mode. Only the physical button can be found on the power base and pressing it switches to the light mode. There are a total of 19 LED bulbs in each panel and you can select a custom color for each one individually. This also applies to dynamic mode. These features seem like a fun idea to mount the KoloLite kit on your walls, but the 3.5ft power cable interferes with such plans.
I had a really hard time trying to find a long enough extension in my living room and even after that, the cable mess was annoying to see. To top it all off, the Cololight uses a proper power base with a cable, so you can’t just buy a long USB cable to fix this problem. If you’re an unlucky girl like me and don’t have a wall outlet near your place, you’ll be stuck with an extension cord or you may have to scrap your wall-mounting plans altogether.
Desks and tables are ideal places for placement because you don’t need to hang the panels so high and you probably have a power outlet on hand. Alternatively, you can simply create a pattern of your choice and let it stand out on the wide base included in the Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit. I believe the latter is a better idea due to the size of the cable and the complicated manufacturing process.
Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit: Setup and Software
To be very clear, installing lighting panels is a hellish nightmare. I expected the process to be fairly simple, but I ended up in over my head. Not only do you need to know what size you’re going to be gunning from the start, but you also need to plan where each power connector will be placed. If it doesn’t match the app’s pattern, your lights won’t accurately display dynamic modes.
Just as water flows from one pool to another, the lights follow the path of the connectors in dynamic lighting mode. It’s not always necessary to follow templates in an app, but if you want to match output from one of the dynamic modes, you can have to follow the instructions. Even if you plan to build your own custom static or dynamic mods, you’ll need to select the pattern of connectors and enter it into the app. I find this unnecessarily complicated and overly user-unfriendly.
All that confusing connections also mean that before you can connect the panel, you’ll need to set up the Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit on your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi using your Android or iOS phone. The app installs and sets up fairly easily, but it can be a sluggish experience. My Pixel 6 froze several times during this process, forcing me to start all over. I assumed my Pixel was at fault, but testing it with three other phones gave me the same result.
After you’ve painstakingly assembled your design to match the layout to the app, you can’t just throw in the towel and call it a day. Next, you’ll need to make the same pattern again, using the plastic frame or backplate for support, complete with the connector plate and everything. It is a painstaking undertaking and I had to sacrifice a lot in my efforts. Once the frame is complete, it needs to be attached to the back side of the collolite panel.
Without the frame, your lighting panels would simply be out of place. If you try to stick them on the wall as they are, the whole rig will fall apart as soon as you lift it. There are two options for you to mount on flat surfaces like walls and Cololight thoughtfully includes them in the Hexagon Light Plus kit.
You get lots of circular 3M adhesive as well as screws to hold your panels in place. I can attest to the durability of the adhesive – those sticky patches don’t budge. This makes them difficult to remove though, and you should be prepared for some damage to the paint job after removal. So do keep this thing in mind.
Cololight app is packed with rich features. You get amazing presets that can stay still, move, and change ambiently as the music plays. The DIY mode is playful and allows you to exercise your creativity. If you have more than one Cololight product, you can refer to a group of different kits collectively. This can be done by creating a “Group” inside the Cololight app.
Unfortunately, the app’s slow response takes away from what could have been. Navigating through the options and modes is tough enough, but you also have to keep its stability in mind. It seems the Cololight app has a mind of its own and hangs around for too long. Sometimes it crashes and sometimes it freezes. At times, you are left with no other option but to restart the app. This especially happened to me a lot when I tried to use complex functions like creating my own custom dynamic modes.
Voice commands can be executed via Alexa, Google Assistant or HomeKit. These are limited to simple instructions such as turning the Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit on and off or changing the color to a single, steady shade. Since Cololight is owned by Lifesmart, you will need to search for Lifesmart under the Google Home app or another compatible smart home management app. It is not explicitly mentioned anywhere and I had a hard time locating it at first.
Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit: Should You Buy It?
Overall, the performance of the Cololight Hexagon Light panel is more than satisfactory. They look mesmerizing and the colors are beautiful. You’ll especially enjoy the paper-like appearance of the lighting panels. The single button on the power base makes it easy to switch through light presets without using a voice assistant or app.
The complicated setup process is what really gets Mickey out of this smart home product. It seems ridiculous and unnecessary that you need to follow templates for connectors a lot, to get some results. Then there are the hard plastic backplates that require even more time and energy to build and attach to your Hexagon Lite Plus kit. You can’t build like Nanoleaf Shapes or Govi Glide Hexa Light Panels.
HomeKit integration combined with the competitive price tag gives Cololight a leg up. Personally, I’d pay a few bucks more just for a more stable app and an easier installation process. If you think all that time and effort is worth the extra savings, then you should go ahead and pick up the Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit. Cascading Smart Lights will bring a lot of joy once it’s all set up and put in a good place.
Cololight Hexagon Light Plus Kit requires a lot of patience. If you’re up to the task, these pleasant ambient lights will serve you well. However, the buggy app will not.