Kuna Light Fixture review: This snazzy porch light doubles as a DIY security camera

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MSRP: $269.00

The Good The $199 Kuna Light Fixture elegantly merges home security with outdoor lighting in a way that looks nice, is easy to manage and helps you keep a closer eye on any unexpected visitors.

The Bad There's no dedicated night vision setting and a single light bulb really can't capture low-light conditions that well. Kuna lacks an IFTTT channel and doesn't work with any smart-home hubs or otherwise play well with products from other manufacturers. You have to pay a fee for cloud storage and other advanced features.

The Bottom Line Despite some notable caveats, the Kuna Light Fixture is a discreet and stylish security camera for your home.

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7.7 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 8
  • Design 8.5
  • Performance 7.5

The $199 Kuna Light Fixture has a secret. From a distance it looks like a plain ol' mild-mannered porch light. But when you get closer, you can see that it's actually equipped with a security camera -- and an impressive one at that, including 720p high-definition live video, motion detection, two-way talk, an on-demand siren and optional cloud recording beginning at $60 per year.

Since this DIY device is also a functional outdoor fixture (you do have to buy your own bulbs, though), you have access to advanced light control options that work in tandem with the security camera -- all accessible via the straightforward Kuna Android and iPhone app. The downside? There's no night vision or third-party integration and Kuna only has a 2-hour free storage "grace period" for video recordings, versus the minimum of 24 free hours most competitors offer.

Even so, the Kuna light-camera hybrid is a product I can comfortably recommend to anyone interested in something discreet that's rated for the outdoors and connects seamlessly to your old wall-mounted porch light's wires for steady, continuous battery-free power (it won't work with ceiling-mounted entry lights).

Kuna up close

The Kuna is an interesting concept, one that got its start on Indiegogo back in 2014 and raised a grand total of $229,373 -- well over its original $50,000 goal. Now it's available for sale in the US on Amazon, as well as on Kuna's online store. Note: The Maximus Smart Security Wall Lantern available at Home Depot and elsewhere is the same product and uses the same Kuna app.

If you don't fancy the craftsman style of the Kuna we tested, don't worry. There are also traditional and contemporary designs available. Craftsman and traditional models come in either a black or a bronze finish, while the contemporary style is available in a black finish only.

Our craftsman-esque review unit is the heaviest of the three Kuna styles at 3.1 pounds, and it measures 11 inches tall by 6 inches wide with a depth of 8.5 inches. I like its heft and size, though, as it feels durable enough to withstand the elements and is a welcome design upgrade to the tarnished brass fixture that was installed there before.

A Kuna should be able to replace most existing wall-mounted porch lights with standard 120V-AC, 60Hz circuits and it took me roughly 20 minutes from start to finish to set mine up, with a little help. Here's an overview of the steps:

  • Turn off power to the light you're replacing.
  • Uninstall your existing porch light from the junction box -- you should have three wires: a power wire, a return wire and a ground wire.
  • If you don't already have a comparable mounting bracket installed in your junction box, here's where you'd add it. (Since our junction box already had one, we skipped this step.)
  • Connect the Kuna's wires to the ones in the junction box using wire nuts (this was the hardest part for me, as it was challenging to hold the light in one hand and connect the wires with the other -- here's where I enlisted a friend to help).
  • Secure the Kuna to the mounting bracket and turn the power back on -- voila! You're done.

Still have questions? Check out Kuna's detailed installation guide.

The software side

Kuna by day -- and by night.

Screenshots by CNET

If you installed everything correctly, the Kuna should start flashing a blue LED status light almost immediately. Download the Kuna app on your Android or iOS device and follow the instructions to add the camera for remote access on your phone.

This process is very straightforward, as Kuna's software automatically starts searching for the camera when the blue LED begins to blink. From there, you simply plug in your local Wi-Fi network's details and that's that. You're ready to start customizing your alerts, light settings, cloud recording subscription (optional) and more.