Many people have invested time and money to get the best smart lighting. We use our smart bulbs to illuminate everything - and you can pair yours with some of the best smart switches to make them even more convenient. The apps are great, but you can’t hit a good old-fashioned button when you want to allow house guests to have control over their own lights or when Alexa seems determined to ignore you.
Of all the top smart switches, we like the Nanoleaf and Philips Hue Wireless Dimmer V2 remote control the best. They are very different models, but they have a lot in common. So which one should you add to your own smart light setup? Let's find out.
Both remote controls are mainly intended for their own smart lighting platform: Philips Hue smart bulbs and Nanoleaf smart lights, respectively. The Nanoleaf remote connects to your existing configuration via Bluetooth and Philips using Zigbee Light Link.
The Philips dimmer is designed to connect to a Hue Bridge, which unlocks all its features, but you can also use it without a Bridge. However, if you do this, you are limited to 10 light bulbs and four default light recipes. You can use the remote control to control non-Hue bulbs that support Zigbee Light Link, such as IKEA TRADFRI bulbs, provided they are adjustable.
The Nanoleaf remote control is primarily for Nanoleaf lights, but it also allows you to set up panels to control Apple HomeKit scenes so that it can trigger other HomeKit smart lights and also control devices such as smart thermostats, smart sockets and even smart water controllers. But that means it's most useful for Apple users if you want to do more than just control Nanoleaf lights.
Both devices have applications for iOS and Android, and Nanoleaf also has dedicated desktop applications for Windows and Mac.
The second generation Philips Hue Dimmer is a more refined and attractive version of the original, with the same clever design that allows you to mount it on the wall (with tape, if you want, which is handy if you rent) or cut it from mount it and use it as a regular remote control. The top button turns the lights on and off, the middle section illuminates or dims the lights, and the bottom section switches between light recipes. These are preset if you do not use a Hue Bridge and customizable if you do.
The Nanoleaf remote control looks like a giant Dungeons & Dragons dice, and at almost 10 cm wide and over seven centimeters high you will not lose it on the back of the sofa. It has twelve programmable panels and simply flip the corresponding panel face up to activate it. You can make the lights brighter by turning the remote control clockwise and you can go counterclockwise to make them dimmer. The remote lights up briefly when used to provide visual feedback and impress your guests.
The Philips Hue dimmer is nice and simple: simply connect to the Bridge (if you have one) and program the Hue button to switch between your favorite scenes. Philips has chosen to keep this switch simple, to control a type of smart home technology and to do it well. The phone app has been recently revamped to make it look more modern and intuitive, and it's easy to change the default settings for your dimmer.
The Nanoleaf remote control is more ambitious, and HomeKit compatibility means you can easily program it to control HomeKit scenes that involve multiple devices, so for example, you might have a scene that sets the lights and thermostat together. The application also has a useful Find My Remote function, although given the size of the remote control, we can not imagine that you will need it very often.
If you only have Hue lights, then Hue Dimmer is the best remote control for you; if you only have Nanoleaf lights, then the Nanoleaf remote control is a lot of fun. None of them are perfect - it's easy to lose Philips if you use it as a remote control rather than a wall switch and with twelve panels to program, you'll forget what Nanoleaf Remote panel does - but it works great with those platforms.
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