VOCOlinc is one of those companies, that whilst relatively small compared to the likes of Xiaomi or Apple, are not content with sitting on their laurels, so to speak, and as such are always looking at ways to improve their products, even if they’ve proved successful. In this case, they’ve looked at a way of offering a new light strip for those people that don’t need a couple of specific features offered with their LS1 Light Strip, while also providing all the essentials that already make the latter very popular. So enter the LS2, which is part of their new ‘SmartGlow’ range of lights.
With the new LS2 Light Strip, VOCOlinc has managed to reduce the packaging, by well over 50%, which is pretty amazing, given that the product is much the same in many ways as the LS1, at least in terms of the basic parts included. It’s good for the environment and reduces shipping, so what’s not to like? What hasn’t altered is the style the company has employed previously, which includes sturdy packaging and the flashes of green on either side of the box. The rear of the container simply has some legal jargon along with the specs, and some images to promote their own LinkWise app.
The total contents of the box then, include the aforementioned light strip, a power supply that also contains (in this case) adaptors for the EU and the UK, that click into place, along with a physical button controller and a circular adhesive sticker, should you want to mount the button controller somewhere permanently, and a separate one-sided sticker that allows you to keep an extension strip securely connected to the initial strip.
As with any HomeKit accessories, I tend to try and install them directly into the Home app, and this light strip, as well as all of VOCOlinc’s products, is more than amenable to this process. Installation was very simple with the QR code located on both the button controller and the small instruction manual. It is always advisable to get VOCOLinc’s own LinkWise app for firmware updates at the very least, as they tend to update the firmware for their products fairly regularly. If you have Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa running things in your house too, then you’re going to need the LinkWise app to set up a VOCOlinc account and add the device to their cloud service, which then permits you to connect the aforementioned services to the light strip. Besides this, there are special lighting effects within the LinkWise app that you can’t access via Apple’s Home app, although you can access them via other 3rd party HomeKit apps if necessary.
LS1 VS. LS2
VOCOlinc already has the LS1, so what’s the deal with the LS2 you’re probably wondering. Well, the LS2 takes pretty much everything from the LS1 and made it more budget friendly. There are a few main differences though. One of which is that the LS1 is IP67 rated, so it’s suited for outdoor use. The LS2 is not, so this is strictly for indoor, or at the very most, covered areas. This can be seen when you compare the two light strips side by side, with the LS1 having a substantially thicker protective cover for the LEDs, due to the nature of its requirements to protect the strip from rain. The second main difference is the number of lumens they kick out – the LS1 can produce a maximum of 550lm per metre, whereas the LS2 tops out at 250lm per metre. Now that does seem like a large drop, and on paper it is, but from my perspective, strip lighting is for mood lighting to enhance main lights, rather than replace them, so if you check out the video at the start of this article, you can see the colours are fairly rich, regardless. If you do want a lot more brightness, to the point where the light strip is acting as main lighting, then you may want to consider the LS1. The third difference is in regards to how much the LS2 can be extended, which is a total of 4 metres, compared to 10 metres for the LS1. Taking all this into account, they are essentially different products in that the LS1 is really built for outdoor use, even if it’s not promoted in such a way, whereas the LS2 is purely an indoor device.
Other than these two differences, which admittedly are major in some ways, the lights perform as expected, and the colours are rich. As this light strip isn’t designed for outdoor use, the latex coating isn’t as thick as with the LS1, so the strip is a little easier to manipulate. For this strip, I’ve placed it above the kitchen in a recessed ceiling area. The total length was perfect for the light strip combined with the extension, making it 4 metres in total.
- Specifications:WiFi: 2.4gHz b/g/n
- Input: AC 100 – 240v, 50/60Hz
- Output: 12V 1A
- Plug type: detachable US/EU/UK
- LED Colour range: 16m colours incl. cool to warm whites
- Wattage: 12W Max
- Luminous Flux: 250lm per metre
Setting up the light strip, even in this hard to reach area, was fairly straightforward, and in the 2 weeks I’ve had it installed, there has been no evidence of the strip peeling away from the wall it’s stuck to. I have a lot of VOCOlinc products in the apartment, and I’ll be honest and say there are occasional disconnection issues with some of the earlier products. But, with this SmartGlow light strip and the recent SmartBar plugs, they’ve been rock solid. I’m currently using an Aqara wireless rocker switch to control the SmartGlow light strip, and even though after I’ve pressed the rocker switch, the signal has to go to the Aqara hub, and then onto the Homehub (Apple TV4K) before finally telling the light strip to turn on, you wouldn’t see any noticeable lag at all. This is most likely due to the new custom Wifi chips that VOCOlinc are using in all of their recent devices, which gives a generally faster response, along with a more solid connection to your wifi network.
- Flow – transitions between up to 6 user-selected colours. The speed at which they transition, as well as the brightness levels, can be adjusted.
- Breathe – Like Flow, this transitions between colours, but in this case, each colour fades to zero brightness before changing to the next colour
- Blink – flashes on and off between up to 6 user-selected colours, so may be useful to complement an alarm for example.
- Candle – This makes the brightness of the light slightly vary to replicate candlelight. You can only use the white spectrum for this effect.
- Flicker – This is the same as Candle except you can choose any colour you prefer. You can’t transition between colours like with Flow or Breathe.
It’s clear from this light strip, that you can still create great mood lighting, even with a modest lumen count, and while a total of 1000lm over a 4-metre light strip (the standard 2 metre pack plus the 2 metre extension) may not be enough for some people, it’s perfect for me, as I already have tube lighting in the same location if I want full lighting, so it serves me more than adequately for this purpose. Likewise, with the lack of an IP67 rating, I don’t have a garden, but if I did want outdoor lighting, then the LS1 would serve that purpose. As it stands, I think that strip lights aren’t meant to be literally seen, so mood lighting is where these serve a great purpose to enhance, not replace.
Full disclosure: VOCOlinc provided HomeKit News with the LS2 SmartGlow Light Strip for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was made or requested.