Review: Kessil A160WE Tuna Blue marine LED light

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Dave Wolfenden checks out the marine version of Kessil's new generation of LED lighting.

What Kessil doesn’t know about photosynthesis, thanks to its expertise in hydroponics, probably isn’t worth knowing. It’s now using this know-how for aquatics, and the A160WE Tuna Blue marine light is the latest fruit of that labour.

The 'W' means that the optics are designed for a wide spread of light (the larger A360s areavailable in 'W' — wide — or 'N' — narrow — beam models thanks to specific optics).

With the A160, you’re stuck with a wide beam, which is no bad thing.

The 'E' suffix (featured on all new models) denotes that energy efficiency has been improved and new LEDs have been incorporated, claimed to be 15% brighter than those on the previous A150 unit, which this model replaces. And on the subject of the LEDs themselves, it’s worth noting that Kessil manufactures its own diodes, and in the aquarium lights, they’re made specifically for aquarium use. The A160WE features 26 chips, tightly packed together, giving a real point source of light, so you’ll get some great shimmer effects. Kessil recommends one unit for an aquarium of roughly 50 x 25 x 30cm/20 x 10 x 12in, and two for aquariums of 90 x 45 x 30cm/36 x 18 x 12in. Power consumption for the A160WE is a maximum 40W.

What’s in the box?

The unit comes with a 3.6m power cord and mounting fittings. The light can be screwed onto to Kessil’s 'Gooseneck' (available separately), a flexible armature for fixing to the aquarium’s edge offering the possibility of finely tweaking direction and angle of the beam. Alternatively, the supplied brackets can be used for hanging the unit.

In use

The distinctive, compact unit feels solid and sturdy, with a slippery-smooth black satin-look finish that feels like Teflon, and a blue edge around the LED 'business end'. On top are controls for adjusting both LED intensity output and colour. Get knob-twiddling, and you can manually ramp the intensity from zero to retina-melting (it’s bright), and the light can be tuned from 10,000°K to actinic blue (it’s not possible to assign actinic a colour temperature, but suffice to say, the deep blue makes the colours on corals really pop).

Two ports are also featured on the top of the light, which have rubber bungs to keep the electronics dry if they’re not in use. One port (‘input’) is used for control via an external device (the A160 being controllable by Kessil’s Spectral Controller as well as the Neptune Systems Apex). The 'output' port can be used to connect up additional Kessil lights in a 'daisy-chain' fashion (with or without an external controller), in which case the first unit in the chain assumes control of subsequent units.

Even on full intensity the light runs only slightly warm, so there shouldn’t be any worries about heat radiation. The A160WE incorporates a fan to assist the heat sinks, and it’s incredibly quiet; the only evidence that it was working at all was a very slight breeze from the vents.

Price: RRP £229.99.

Verdict

An extremely well-made light offering tons of flexibility, definitely up there in the cream of the crop of the new generation of aquarium LEDs. Hook it up to a controller and you’ll realise its full potential.

Ease of use: 5/5

Features: 4/5

Value for money: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

More info: Tel. 01942 216554 or visit www.evolutionaqua.com

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