Kessil is well-known throughout the hobby for their low-profile, pendant-style lighting fixtures. Especially for the widely popular 360 series—which has become one of the most sought-out reef lights. Hobbyist love the compact form and substantial output that creates an impressive shimmer inside of the aquarium.
The new X series has an all new set of control features, an even smaller profile and, best of all, more light for your tank. Before we compare the classic A360WE against the new A360X, we feel it’s crucial to run through the key elements that make Kessil unique & different from any other lighting company.
Those elements are the Kessil Dense Matrix LED Array, Kessil’s Core Spectrum, and Kessil Logic.
Most reef lights feature a layout of diodes on a puck or strip with each individual diode acting as a tiny bulb under its own reflector. Typically, when different LED’s are constructed in a spread layout, light is cast as individual colors. Kessil took a different path, by developing a compact layout of multiple LED chips under a single reflector on a single circuit board. That circuit board is about the size of a dime and is called, the Kessil Dense Matrix LED Array.
This uniformly blends the colors and eliminates the varied shimmer of individual colors you might experience with other LED lights. Something many call the “disco effect” because it creates a rainbow of color spots on the sand bed like a disco floor. This is also the reason you see many of the other LED light manufacturers releasing aftermarket lenses with the promise of blending the light together in such a way to eliminate this disco effect. Using lenses, though, also takes away any sort of shimmer. In contrast, the design of the Kessil’s Dense Matrix Array eliminates the disco effect issue while retaining a brilliant natural shimmer.
The shimmer is much like what you would see in natural underwater environments as light rays from the sun penetrate through the ocean’s water column.
Kessil has carefully selected and mixed the colors of the chips within their Dense Matrix Array so that the color mix produces light within the optimal range for photosynthesis (primarily within 380-470nm wavelength). Kessil calls this the “Core Spectrum.”
The Core Spectrum is preserved by Kessil Logic which maintains the optimal spectral color mix regardless of how the light is adjusted. This means that you can adjust how the light looks to your eyes without worrying about tuning your light outside of the color range needed for optimal coral health and coral growth.
They have released two new models; Tuna Blue is for reef tanks and offers a white-to-blue spectrum to meet a coral’s demands and the Tuna Sun is a yellow-to-white mix suited for freshwater planted aquariums.
When comparing the new A360X with the original A360WE, the first thing users notice is the difference in physical design. The A360X has a 30% lower profile than the older A360WE. This new, sleek design is more visually appealing and space-efficient than the previous model.
Kessil was able to shrink the light down in size by redesigning the heat-sink. This new sunflower heat-sink, combined with vortex airflow, allows for significantly more effective heat dissipation than the previous model.
This airflow also achieves a self-cleaning function which will be a welcome upgrade from prior A360 models. Even the spaces on the metal housing of the A360X are specifically engineered to line up perfectly with the fins on the heat-sink to achieve optimal airflow for a very efficient cooling system.
Because of the upgraded cooling efficiency, the Kessil A360X produces 25% more light output than its predecessor, the A360WE. This is because the A360X can push the LED’s output to a higher level without overheating the LED’s.
Here is a quick par measurement using the Seneye Reef Monitor and you can see the substantial output is suitable for any type of coral you wish to keep.
A quick side-by-side comparison of the A360WE and the A360X shows an obvious difference of the LED arrays between the 2 lights. The A360X’s LED layout is actually bigger and includes additional color channels and LED chips.
Thanks to this larger array and an upgraded 130-degree angle lens, the A360X has boosted this spread to a whopping 36” square, while the older A360WE would only accommodate up to a 24” square spread. This allows for even better light dispersion and less hot-spots.
The A360X features the same two-dial control that Kessil users are already familiar with. One dial controls the visual color while the other dial controls the intensity. One upgrade to these adjustment options is that where the A360WE and other previous models were only dimmable down to 10%, the A360X allows adjustment continuously all the way down to 0%. This means you can program the light to run at a low enough intensity for moonlighting using the new Kessil Spectral Controller X.
The new Spectral Controller X uses what Kessil has called a K-link connection and is a typical USB-C type connector that allows for bi-directional data exchange. While previous lights could be connected in series with the first light serving as the master, this new connection allows users to control all the lights from any light within the series. The USB-C connector is also more water and corrosion resistant—making it an ideal choice for use around an aquarium.
This new controller is backwards compatible, so it will work with your previous models of Kessil lights, but it also comes with some great upgrades only for the A360X. Perhaps the most noteworthy upgrade option for this controller is that it allows you to further manipulate the colors of the A360X so that you can change the visual color with the red, green, violet, and indigo channels while still maintaining the Core Spectrum via Kessil Logic. The Spectral Controller also incorporates some interesting weather-effect options like storm and cloud cover simulations, as well as moonlighting.
We particularly liked that the Spectral Controller is powered directly by the A360X when connected, so there’s no need for any additional power cable to the Spectral Controller. Also, it has a 0-10 volt port so that it can be used to control not only previous models of Kessil lighting, but also other equipment like DC-pumps that can be controlled from a 0-10 volt connection.
One important note here is that Kessil decided to do away with the connection to external controllers like your Neptune Apex. So, do not expect these new A360X lights to connect and accept your existing lighting schedule that is programmed into your controller. That was a feature previously available with the original A360 and A160 lights. As of the publication of this video, Kessil is working on developing a way to connect these lights with a controller, but we have yet to get concrete details.
Not to worry though, Kessil is rolling out even more options to boost the controllability of the A360X with a brand-new Wi-Fi dongle for wireless control, and a mobile app for both Apple and Android platforms. Both are due out before the end of 2018 and will allow you to access your lights from anywhere in the world.
For mounting, current Kessil owners will be happy to hear that there will not be any need to upgrade their current mounting solutions because Kessil’s existing Mounting Arm and the A-Series Gooseneck will both accommodate the A360X.
With all the amazing upgrades that Kessil is providing, combined with the great tech that has already made Kessil one of the top lighting names in the industry, it’s easy to see why there’s already so much buzz surrounding the A360X!