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

The $199 Kuna Light Fixture is like your current porch light, only better: It's also equipped with a security camera for watching the front door (and yes, spying on your neighbors too).

Megan Wollerton Former Senior Writer/Editor
6 min read

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.


Kuna Light Fixture

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.

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).

This sleek porch light can also alert you to intruders (pictures)

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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.

All of the indoor home security cameras we've tested

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The software side

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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.

I opted to receive a push notification every time someone triggered the motion detector and I scheduled the porch light to automatically turn on at dusk and off again at dawn. You can also program it to turn on any time the motion sensor detects activity.

The Kuna system didn't disappoint, dishing out prompt push alerts whenever someone crossed within the roughly 10-foot motion threshold (occasionally it detected motion beyond this range, closer to 15-30 feet away), pulling up a clear HD video stream (minus some occasional dips in performance due to bandwidth limitations -- something to consider if your Wi-Fi is regularly hit-or-miss), recording clips that captured an entire motion event and returning clear audio when using the two-way talk intercom function.

This smart security device is also outfitted with a 100-decibel siren that you can activate from the app to scare people away. 100 decibels isn't loud loud, especially with the addition of ambient outside noise, but the blaring tone of this siren is especially off-putting and will easily startle someone that's lurking around your house. You can also play one of the prerecorded messages loaded in the app. They include, "I'm busy right now," "Can I help you?" and "Sorry, not interested" -- all easy to execute from the app while you're watching the live feed.

Note: If you have multiple porch lights, but don't want or need multiple camera-connected Kunas, the team also sells camera-free versions for $129 with the same advanced light control capabilities via the app.

Where Kuna falls short

Like Nest Cam and other subscription-based cloud cameras, Kuna extends temporary free access to its premium storage service so you can check out the features. After that 14-day period, you'll have to sign up to receive the full benefits. These begin at $60 a year for 7 days of saved clips for one Kuna, up to $240 a year for up to 30 days of saved clips for as many as eight Kunas.

Kuna does give a free 2-hour grace period of sorts for reviewing saved clips. I suppose that technically qualifies as free cloud storage, but it's much more limited than the Icontrol Piper's 1,000 free clips or Homeboy's free 30-day rolling cloud storage. Still, it does offer something if you like Kuna's product but don't want to pay the cloud storage fee.

Also, while I was impressed with the Kuna system's performance and overall ease of use, this discreet, design-centric device doesn't have night vision. Instead, you're supposed to rely on the light bulb in the fixture to provide enough lumens when it's dark out, but that isn't nearly as good as night-vision-specific infrared LEDs. Of course, some of that will depend on the light bulb you buy. Kuna's online FAQ says its Light Fixture will work with incandescents, CFLs or LEDs, but noted that its "tests show the best results from a standard A-15 LED or CFL light bulb, 450 lumen."

It also doesn't offer an IFTTT channel, compatibility with Amazon's voice control assistant Alexa or broader integration with any products from other manufacturers. That's a significant disadvantage if you're looking for stuff that fits into your existing smart-home setup.

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Watching the live feed from the Kuna iPhone app.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

Even so, I really like the Kuna and there's nothing else quite like it on the market today -- the closest probably being motion-sensor-equipped smart doorbells like the Ring or August. One obvious advantage of a Kuna is that it's less noticeable. It's also less prone to theft since the majority of porch lights are installed above doorways rather than at or below eye level.

Overall, the Kuna is a clever connected product that's worth consideration, particularly if you're in the market for an outdoor camera that's similar to a smart doorbell but significantly more discreet.


Kuna Light Fixture

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 8Design 8.5Performance 7.5