Light strips are pretty great. They can brighten up dark corners of your home, like under kitchen cabinets or inside closets, or they can bring ambiance to your furniture. What could be better than a light strip, you might ask? How about a smart light strip?
TP-Link announced the Kasa Smart Multicolor Light Strip (KL430) all the way back at CES 2019, and it was finally released last month. It packs 16 individual color zones and 10 preset animated lighting effects. I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for the Smart Light Strip to arrive, and I’m not disappointed — even if some of the promised functionality isn’t live yet.
Design and hardware
You’ve probably seen a light strip before: it’s a flexible strand of LED lights that can be attached to a surface, and the Kasa Smart Light Strip is no different. It comes in a length of 6.6 feet (2 meters), but you can extend it up to 33 feet (10 meters) by purchasing extensions. However, the product listings for the extensions don’t seem to be live yet — a 1-meter strip will eventually be sold under the model name KL430E. The strip has pre-applied 3M tape, which seems like you could re-use once or twice before it loses its stickiness.
You can also cut the Kasa Smart Light Strip on the indicated lines (there’s one every five inches), in case it’s too long for your needs. I didn’t actually try this, because cutting electronics feels wrong, and the full light strip already isn’t long enough to completely wrap around my desk.
The strip has a color temperature range of 2500-9000K, and a luminous flux of 1400 lumens. In simpler terms, the lights can get very bright — I usually kept the strip at 30% brightness when I had it behind my desk. Enabling the lightning effect while at 100% brightness will probably cause a seizure.
At the end of the light strip, there’s a connector for plugging in a small module, which has the actual ‘smart’ hardware in it. The module also has a single button for turning the lights on and off, so you don’t have to use voice/remote controls if the strip is within reach. The module has pre-applied 3M tape for mounting to a wall, but I just shoved it under my desk.
The setup process for the Smart Light Strip is just as quick and painless any other TP-Link smart home product. Plug it in, fire up the Kasa app, pick the light strip from the list of available devices, and the app will walk you through the rest.
There are several pages of settings for the strip, including an on/off switch, a brightness slider, a white balance slider, and a color picker. If solid colors aren’t enough for you, the Effects button takes you to a page containing effects created by TP-Link. You can make the strip flicker like a candle, cycle through a rainbow pattern like a gaming keyboard, or simulate raindrops on a window.
While the included effects are neat, TP-Link also promises that you’ll be able to create your own effects… at some point. Even though it’s advertised on the box, the ability to create effects hasn’t been added to the app yet. At least you’ll have something to look forward to!
Here are some of the effects for your viewing pleasure:
Like other TP-Link products, the Smart Light Strip can connect to Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT. However, you do lose some options when you use the strip through one of those services, so you’ll want to keep the Kasa app installed for full functionality. For example, while the brightness and color can be set using Google Assistant, you can’t use any of the effects.
Kasa Smart Light Strip in the Google Home app
Speaking of the Kasa app, you can use Smart Actions to automate the light strip if you use other TP-Link products. For example, you could set the light strip to automatically turn on if a motion sensor is activated. You can also automate the light strip using Google Assistant Routines, SmartThings Rules, or the equivalent functionality in your smart home ecosystem of choice.
Overall, the software experience is very polished, and I didn’t experience any bugs outside of the customization feature not being present.
Setting the mood to play some DOOM. pic.twitter.com/Ie1yQgeL6t
— Corbin Davenport (@corbindavenport) November 11, 2019
Should you buy it?
TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip
Yes. TP-Link’s smart home products have always worked well in my experience, as they don’t require a hub and have great compatibility with Google Assistant, and the Kasa Smart Light Strip is no exception. The only real disadvantages to the Smart Light Strip is the present lack of effect customization (which isn’t a massive deal to me, personally) and the cost.
The current price tag of $70 is certainly high for a light strip, but it’s actually cheaper than most competing products. The 6.6-foot Phillips Hue LightStrip Plus currently goes for $80, and still requires a Hue hub on top of that. LIFX sells a Wi-Fi light strip, but it’s even more expensive, at $90 for a 6.6-foot section.
Buy it if…
- You want a smart light strip.
- You have $70 to spend.
Don’t buy it if…
- You really want the ability to customize the effects.