LED lighting has come a long way, and I’m not just talking about light bulbs.
Specialty lighting, like you might see in a restaurant or retail setting, is more affordable than ever, and the number of choices is mind-boggling.
For a few years now, I’ve used LED strip lights for under-cabinet lighting in our kitchen.
Strip lights are just what they sound like — strips of very flexible plastic with LED lights and circuitry attached. There are LED lights spaced out on the strip every few inches. The LEDs are bright, don’t get too hot and they can change colors with the push of a button.
I’ve been testing two LED lighting systems from Govee, the Glide Hexa Light Panels ($199 at Amazon.com) and the Neon LED Strip Light ($199.99 at Amazon.com). There might be coupons on each light’s Amazon page.
Both use multi-color LEDs and are designed to accent the lighting in your home or office.
I installed both sets in my office.
My office is in a basement with no windows. There are three of us in one big room, and we each have a rather large cubicle.
As a group, we decided not to use the overhead fluorescent lights, which are just too bright and sterile-looking.
We have lamps, some pointed to the ceiling to put a warmer, darker glow to the space.
In the last few years, I’ve brought in a few LED lights — a strip light for around the top of my cubicle walls and a round LED desk lamp.
My office is the perfect place to test the Govee lights.
Both sets can be voice-controlled by Alexa or Google voice assistants.
Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels
These are hexagon-shaped plastic panels that house multicolor LED lights. You can arrange the hexagon lights in any number of configurations.
The free Govee app will let you lay out the panels on your phone’s screen, then the app will give you directions for connecting the panels.
On the back of each panel is a round housing with a numbered outlet facing each side of the hexagon. The layout of the panels determines which outlet you need to use when connecting the panels.
It sounds harder than it is. I created a simple layout of two vertical rows. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish to get all the panels mounted and connected.
The first panel is plugged into the wall, and the remaining panels connect to each other with thin connectors.
Each panel attaches to the wall with a removable double-sided adhesive.
These lights can really bring out your creative side. The panels can take on any layout you like, but since they are all wired together, the panels need to touch each other on at least one side.
The kit comes with 10 hexagon light panels, and you can use some or all of them, and you can even add another set if you’d like more panels in your design. Note that adding two sets together will require each set to be plugged into the wall, but they can be controlled as one light system in the app.
There is a power button between the wall plug and the first panel. It is a single button that turns the light panels on or off.
Once the panels are mounted and powered on, you use the app to control the color of the lights. Each panel can show up to six colors at once.
There are plenty of presets in the app, from static colors to light shows that would rival any dance club.
You can create scenes and save them as favorites.
The lights can even be set to pulse with music, which is a neat party trick.
Most of the time in my office, I just have the lights set to a warm white to provide a nice illumination. The app allows me to adjust the brightness to my liking.
The presets are fun to scroll through. Most of them set a tone, like Sunset Glow, Ocean, Forest, Rainbow, Fire and Ripple.
The app connects to the lights via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. We have a secure Wi-Fi system in my office that won’t allow a connection to the Govee lights, but the app works perfectly via Bluetooth. The only limitation is you must be in the room to change the lights.
If I connected via Wi-Fi, I could change the light colors from anywhere. I’m perfectly happy with only changing the lights when I am in the room.
You can turn the lights on or off using the app or the power button on the cord. Turning the lights on with the power button will bring up the last light setting that was in use before you turned the lights off.
These are really nice lights, but I can see their use being a bit limited, at least in my house. Not everyone will want to hang 10 color-changing light panels in a living room. I suppose a lot will depend on your decorating style.
They can be as much an art installation as they are functional lights.
They worked fine at my office, but I knew better than to ask my wife if I could put them up in our home. My wife loves the LED strip lights under our kitchen cabinets, but putting these up on our living room wall wouldn’t work.
These lights would be perfect in a dorm room.
They’d also be great in a media room, a man cave, a kids’ room, a game room or even the garage. You need a room where the décor is right for such a bold statement.
The lights would be great in a bar or restaurant or even a retail store.
They are not weatherproof, so they must be mounted inside.
Pros: Create your design, easily adjustable light patterns, add extra tiles as needed.
Cons: The dim settings are not very dim.
Bottom line: These light tiles will give any room a distinctive look.
Govee Neon LED Strip Light
I also got to test the Neon LED Strip Light, which is not an actual neon light at all.
Rather, it is a strip of multicolor LEDs with an opaque rubber covering that resembles a long tube. So you get the look of a flexible 16-foot-long neon light you can mount on the wall.
The light attaches to the wall (or any other surface) with small plastic clips you can attach either with screws or the included double-sided adhesive tape. You can make any design you like with the strip, but it doesn’t bend too sharply. Think of the long light tube as being flexible like a garden hose.
The control of the color of the light is broken down into sections about a foot long, and the Govee app is used to control the lighting of the sections. Again, the connection can be Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
You can set the lights in each section as you like, or you can go with one of Govee’s numerous presets.
Like the Hexa Light Panels, the Neon LED Strip Light can also pulse with music.
Besides using the app to control the lights, there is a three-button control switch built into the power cord. You can use the buttons to turn the lights on or off or to cycle through some of the presets without needing the app.
The Neon LED Light Strip is water-resistant, so feel free to use it outside.
I have the Neon LED Strip Light affixed to the top of my cubicle walls, so the light diffuses up to the ceiling. It puts a nice glow over my head and the effect is very pleasing.
This type of light would be great as a main light on a wall (in whatever shape you’d like) or as an accent light around the top of a wall or around the top of your kitchen cabinets.
They are available in 10- or 16-foot lengths, and unlike many other LED strip lights, these cannot be cut to a smaller size.
If you need a longer light, two or more sets can be placed end to end, but they do not connect together. You’d have to set up and control each light strip individually.
Pros: Voice control, custom colors in app, easy setup.
Cons: Can’t cut to fit, can’t connect multiple sets.
Bottom line: Fun lights that fit in a variety of spaces.