Light strips are not a new products by any means. You have been able to purchase these small LED strips and place thing around your home for ambiance lighting for quite some time. The luxury consumer appeal as well as the low cost/high margin manufacturing has pushed higher competition for these lighting solutions. This, in turn, has rapidly improved the technology and features selection of these lights over time and hence landing these into the “smart-lighting” category with the introduction of Philips Hue light-strips in 2013. Today you can purchase smart light-strips from companies like Philips Hue and Sylvania, as well as a few other announced manufactures. I have used Philips Hue light strips in my home for quite sometime now which is why I wanted to try the LIFX Z smart-strips for comparison.
Few companies package their products in the exciting and minimalist way that LIFX does. True to form the LIFX Z is no exception. The LIFX Z comes In a package that is wider than their A19 bulbs but in the same cylindrical shape. Popping off the top reveals the instruction manual as well as one connectable strand of light strips. Removal of the first tray and you are greeted by a second strip of connectable LEDS and a power pack (plug) connector. Finally, one more layer down and you get to the Wi-Fi wireless control adapter.
Setting up the LIFX Z is familiarly easy. Especially if you have set up any other LIFX product. This is mostly because it requires no tools.
You will first connect the two LED strips together by aligning the 4 metal prongs on one end of a strip with the receiving end of the other trip and pressing them together firmly.
Next you will need to connect the light-strips to the Wi-Fi LED controller. To do this you align the remaining four metal prong end of the light strip with the receiving end on the Wi-Fi LED Controller and press firmly until in place.
Lastly you will need to connect the Wi-Fi LED Controller to the power pack. To do this you simply insert the end of the remaining wire that is attached to the Wi-Fi LED controller into the plug insert in the power pack.
The LIFX Z like many other light-strip products also have an adhesive backing on the back side of the strip. You can simply pull off the protected paper on the back and apply the strips directly to a dust free clean surface. You can also get creative in mounting the products by draping them, or using your own adhesive or hanging hardware.
Pairing your LIFX Z is similar to the process of pairing LIFX and LIFX + bulbs. The application provides a simple guide to follow along with and connect your light. For Average Joe’s step by step guide to seeing up LIFX products click here.
Controlling your LIFX Z is very similar to controlling your LIFX and LIFX + bulbs with two amazing difference. To review how to control LIFX products in general click here.
What’s that amazing difference? The LIFX Z sports feature that allows you to customize the light strips in a way that is not offered by any of its competitors. This control feature allows you to mix and match multiple colors within the same light-strip. This gives you the ability to paint an area with colors not just a color. You can customize up to 8 different colors per meter says LIFX. To do this you will need to open up your LIFX application on your device.
Once opened you will need to select the word below the circle toggle control for your LIFX Z light.
That will bring up this screen that allows you to control the entire light-strips power state, brightness, hue, and saturation. To customize the light-strip more you will need to click on the Themes Menu at the bottom of the screen.
Once you are in the Themes menu you will see numerous options to control your light-strip. First you can tap on any of the color circles at the top to quickly change your lights to that color.
Next you can tap on a “Theme Circle” to have the strip-light customize within the theme color palette that has been handpicked by the geniuses at LIFX. Tapping the them again will slightly change the light pattern while staying within the color palette. You can continue tapping until you get a result that you like, or you can tap a different them to try a different color palette.
Lastly, and most exciting, is the ability to customize the color palette of your entire LIFX Z light-strip yourself. Remember those little color circles at the top of your screen? Well take a look at the light bar above it. Depending on what you have been playing with on the application it may be a solid color or it may have a blended variation of colors based on a theme. You can completely customize the strip on your own by pressing and holding one of the color circles and dragging it over the strip at the top. You can paint the edges one color by dragging the color over the edges and then release. Next select another color and dot around across the bar. Whatever adjustments you make within the application represents what the physical light strip will adjust too. Isn’t that fun?
One more amazing feature that is pretty new is an effect specifically for the LIFX Z product. Navigate to the effects menu by tapping the effects tap located at the bottom right of your screen. As long as your LIFX Z light-strip is selected you will see an option called “move”. This option energizes your lights based on your selected theme or customized palette and haves them move around the light strip. To initiate the effect simply tap the circle icon above the word “move”.
If you wish to customize the “move” effect you can do so by tapping on the word move below the circle icon. Doing so will bring you to the screen below that allows you to make 2 adjustments. First you can use the slide bar to adjust the speed at which the effect moves.
The next adjustments is a simple toggle switch. Flipping the switch one way will have the automation run in one direction while a flip to the other side will run the automation in the opposite direction.
I have been testing the LIFX Z lights for about two full weeks now. I have to say that I am completely impressed with the quality of color and white customization. With other smart light-strips that I have tried some colors are better than others. Not with the LIFX Z though I notice no drop in quality while changing colors. The Strips are also very bright. So much so that turning the strips to 100% in a dark room is near blinding. The lights have been extremely responsive when being controlled from within the application. I would say nearly instantaneous with very little latency at all. The application is well thought out and gives you great options to customize and control your lights that are very intuitive and user friendly. Every feature they have incorporated within the application works as you would expect it to.
LIFX Z currently integrates with Amazon’s Alexia, Google Home, IFTTT and group of other smart home devices and platforms. Noticeably missing is support for Apple’s HomeKit, though the company does claim to be bringing support for it’s LIFX and LIFX + bulbs. I would think that with the changes coming to iOS 11 later this year if it is at all possible for LIFX to convert the LIFX Z to be compatible that they will try to bring that support as well. For now though, you will have to rely on the above referenced integrations or the LIFX application to control.
Practical Use Options
- Behind a TV
- Under Cabinet
- Above Cabinet Lighting
- Behind wall art
- Behind Couch
- Under Bed
- As a night light
- Design your own artwork
- Inside a play tent for your children
LIFX Z is a completely customizable and capable smart light-strip solution. It’s easy to install, as well as a snap to pair with your home via the LIFX application. The product is bright, vibrant, and very versatile for what it can be used for. The only downside for me with this product is the lack of Apple HomeKit support including the lack of planning to bring this support. However, with so many ways to automate the lights from within the application and work arounds provided by IFTTT this simple, beautiful, and powerful set of smart light-strips are a clear industry leader. Another double thumbs up for the LIFX Z product and the LIFX team. I believe that we will see some more really exciting products from them in the near future.