It’s time to upgrade your outlets.
Disclaimer: The folks at SnapPower very kindly provided Guidelights for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but a few months ago I began seeing the same ad pop up over and over in my Facebook news feed. I see ads and blog posts every day about crowdfunded gadgets and gee-whiz ideas, but this little ad stuck with me because it was so simple: Why not build a graceful night light into the power outlet instead of clogging up your walls with ugly, energy chugging monstrosities? I knew that SnapPower’s Guidelight outlet covers were onto something.
The folks at SnapPower were kind enough to send over a few units for review, and I’ve spent the last week putting them through the paces in key spots around our home. Does the actual product live up to the great idea? Read on to find out!
What Does It Claim to Do?
SnapPower produces a range of power outlet covers that claim to add functionality to your outlets without the need for additional wiring or adapters. The SnapPower Guidelight adds a night-light-style light source to power outlets that claims to automatically turn on when needed and off when it isn’t, all while using about $0.10 of energy a year. Let’s dive in to the details.
When you’re unboxing the product, don’t be surprised when you find… a power outlet cover. With the exception of a small black dot in the bottom corner (the ambient light sensor) and 3 clear openings on the bottom for the LEDs, you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference between this high-tech gadget and the typical $0.37 wall plate you’d buy at the hardware store. I think that’s a plus!
The whole point of a product like this is to seamlessly blend in with its surroundings and surprise you when it’s actually needed. The Guidelight covers are available in white (which I tested), almond, or ivory, and have cut outs available for both duplex and decor style outlets (more on that in a minute).
Flip the Guidelight over, and you’ll see some springy exposed contacts to route power to the lights; that’s it! There’s no switches to turn on, and no wires to connect or try to stuff into the walls. There’s some really innovative engineering going on here.
Performance and User Experience
Installing the Guidelight is about as straightforward as it gets: Cut the power, take off your old cover, pop the guidelight on, and screw it in. It took me about 5 minutes to install 4 of these, with most of that time involving walking to different parts of the house.
The only real problem I encountered was in two of the outlets where the metal screw connectors in the plugs were sticking out more than normal; the contacts on the Guidelight are thankfully pretty flexible, but it still required a little “wiggle work” to get the cover correctly lined up before screwing it down.
As for the Guidelight in action, it’s surprisingly fantastic. I expected a typical harsh-LED style glow, but was pleasantly surprised by the nuanced light these things put out. The color temperature is about 2700-3000k to my eyes, which is pleasingly warm and far from the overly electronic tone you see in many store-purchased night lights.
What also surprised me was how much the light output shifts according to ambient light in the room. I was expecting the light sensor to result in a simple on and off state, but these lights gracefully dim and brighten given the time of day or other light sources nearby. It’s an elegant touch.
At full blast, the Guidelight puts out a good amount of light, but it isn’t so bright that it would disturb your sleep or draw attention to itself. We’re using it in areas with both carpet and shiny hardwood floors, and it does a great job of providing great “find your way in the night” lighting in both scenarios.
As I mentioned earlier, the Guidelight comes in a variety of outlet shapes and colors, so you shouldn’t have any trouble outfitting your home with these, even if your decor or home is on the older side.
There is one caveat that is kind of a bummer: you can’t use the Guidelight on outlets that use GCFI breakers, which are common in many bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms; it’s not SnapPower’s fault that those outlets don’t work the same way, but it’s a bummer since the Guidelight would be absolutely ideal to feature in spaces like bathrooms where night time use is common and outlet space is at a premium.
Build Quality and Reliability
Although you won’t spend much time handling or moving a Guidelight cover, it does seem to be solidly constructed and precision engineered.
It’s hard to predict reliablity without years of testing, but the use of components like high-quality LED modules should result in years of faithful service with little potential for the bulbs to burn out or go bad.
The Guidelight currently retails for $15 each, with significant discounts available for bulk purchases (which I think is what most customers will opt for). They probably cost more than you would normally seek to spend for a night light, but that cost is getting you an elegant light source that leaves room for more plugs and ads a custom look to your living spaces. It’s a fair deal.
All in all, I’m extremely pleased with the SnapPower Guidelight; it’s brainlessly useful, and adds elegant ambient lighting to your home with a beautiful custom look. I’m ordering more for our home, and I think you should too.