Review: Kessil A350w Tuna Blue LED light


Jeremy Gay gets to try out the marine version of this new light on his reef tank.

It’s good
Fresh off the back of Nathan Hill’s glowing review of the freshwater Amazon Sun A150w, I got to try out two of the larger marine versions — the A350w Tuna Blue — on my 120 x 70cm/ 48 x 28” wide reef tank.

Small, compact and beautifully engineered, all Kessil lights are great looking, great working bits of kit and the 350w is no exception. Although I describe it as larger, as LEDs go these are physically quite tiny at just 10cm/4” wide and 9.5cm/3.8” high.

They produce a single-point source light from a dense matrix LED yet can be colour tweaked via two knobs on the top, giving you white only, blue only or your blend and brightness mix of the two.

Each unit uses up to 90 watts of power, although I reckon you’d only need two on a 120 x 60cm/4 x 2’ reef tank and can raise or lower them to provide different light spread. The 350w provides light over a 140° angle, but if you want something with even more punch and more point source opt for the A350, which illuminates a tighter 62° area.

An inbuilt fan keeps the light cool. It’s almost silent and some reckon it’s quieter on the 350 than that on the smaller A150W.

You can either suspend the lights from the ceiling over open-topped tanks or Kessil produces a fabulous, heavy-duty yet very flexible "goose neck" which enables mounting onto the rim of open topped tanks.

Both Nathan and I love the goose necks and we highly recommend them as lighting solutions for a myriad of tank situations.

In terms of colour, the A350w is all you’ll ever need for both LPS and SPS corals and will really make those fluorescent specimens’ colours pop.

We think they’re great lights and since aquatic wholesaler J and K took on their distribution they’ve been selling in bucket loads, so we’re not alone in liking them.

But…
That single point source may provide awesome glitter lines and shimmer, but use them on their own and with loads of water flow and surface movement and that shimmer may be too much for some people.

I used two on their own on a 120 x 70cm wide tank with two VorTech MP40esw pumps and the effect was so dramatic it was quite strobe-like and likely not to everyone’s tastes.

Due to their design, Kessil lights provide cones of light, bright in their centres then dropping off as they radiate out.

I lit two live rock bommies with our test lights and, because of the pyramid shape of the rockwork and the cone shape of the light spread, I got intense light at the top of the bommie, dropping rapidly as it went down.

This is natural light and would have looked great!

The problem is that your corals then shade each other as the light spreads down and out.

It’s an interesting spread, very natural looking and dramatic, but these would actually work best on a valley-shaped aquascape if you want even lighting to all your corals and all levels.

If changing from say a bank of eight T5s to two of these your corals will experience a very different lighting pattern.

I also like programmable dimming on my LEDs and think Kessil is missing a trick here. The 350 and 350w have manual dimming so you’ll never get that gradual fade in and out (dawn and dusk) without physically twiddling the knobs.
 
Verdict
The number of aquarium LEDs PFK has tested grows daily and we were beginning to get quite complacent about the whole “he says she says” debate as every manufacturer claims theirs is different or the best.

These Kessils really did make us sit up though, as they are so different to everyone else’s and we like them. Lots of UK marine shops are installing them on their coral displays, so go and visit one and a have a play.  

Price: £345. J and K is the UK distributor.

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