Kessil A360 | Product Spotlight
“Kessil Logic”, “Dense Matrix LEDs”,” DiCon”, did you know there was so much going on under the hood of the Kessil A360? The Kessil A360 has been on the market for a while now and for a light that seems so simple, there are a lot of things going on under the hood that most people don’t even know are there.
The core to any LED lighting system is, obviously, the LEDs themselves. Most manufacturers buy standard single LEDs from one of the big LED manufacturers like Cree, Phillips, and OSRAM. They then take these LEDs and attach them to a circuit board or, in some cases, just a piece of sheet metal or heat sink material. Kessil on the other hand manufactures all of their LEDs in house. Kessil is a business unit of DiCon, who themselves are a major manufacturer of LEDs for industrial purposes like fiber optics.
Having this huge technical resource behind them allowed Kessil to develop an LED lighting system unique for their purpose. Rather than using the spread out individual LED approach, Kessil packs a whole bunch of LEDs together onto a very small and dense surface. This is what Kessil refers to as its “Dense Matrix LED” technology. I don’t happen to have the exact measured size of the A360’s LED array but, just to put things into perspective, the 21 LEDs in their H150 grow light fit into an area smaller than the size of a dime.
The Dense Matrix LED makes for a really interesting light that offers the benefits of a single point lighting source while at the same time adding the benefits of LEDs. Normally with spread out LEDs you don’t get as good of a blend between the different colored LEDs. This is especially true in shallow tanks where you can end up with a “disco ball” effect where you can see the different individual colors on the sand bed. The light in one area might be much different than the light an inch away. The spread out LEDs can also result in a really intense shimmer because each LED basically creates its own shimmer effect. Some people may like this but it is a bit too intense for me. Because the Dense Matrix packs the LEDs so much closer together you all but eliminate the “disco ball” effect. The shimmer is still present, but much more subtle and very pleasant. It is very similar to the shimmer you would see with metal halides and, at least to me, much more realistic looking.
Most lights have the simple ability to control an individual channel. A “channel” is basically a group of LEDs that share a circuit. When you control a channel you adjust all of the LEDs on that channel up and down in intensity. In most light fixtures each color is usually separated out into its own channel, so you have a “blue channel”, “red channel”, “white channel”, and so on. It isn’t unusual if you have a fixture that contains only one or two LEDs of a particular color that they may be combined with a different color channel. For example, indigo and violet LEDs are often controlled on the same channel as well as yellow and white. You control each individual channel to try and alter the final look of the overall color of light.
This method offers an extreme level of control. The downside is that there are many combinations of light that may look the same visually, but have drastically different spectrums and PAR levels. This is because of the different intensities and different spectrums used to create the light.
The Kessil A360 light is much different than the above. Normally a light with two knobs would have one control the intensity of one channel and the second knob controls the second channel. Usually anything associated as being “blue” (indigo, uv, blue, royal blue, etc) will be associated with one channel and the other associated with a “white” channel. This is even true on older Kessil models like the A350. The A360 changes this by introducing “Kessil Logic”. Kessil Logic allows one channel to control the overall intensity and the other control adjusts the spectrum as a whole.
As you turn the knob to adjust the spectrum, the controller is adjusting a whole bunch of intensities behind the scenes and not just dimming some colors. Some LEDs may get brighter, while some may get dimmer. It optimizes the LED output across the spectrum to give you the color output you desire while outputting the most consistent PAR levels as possible. This way the useable light output of your light doesn’t vary drastically just because you changed the color.
The light itself can be controlled in two ways. The first and most obvious way is to use the two dials located on top of the light. The dial labeled “dimmer” is adjusted to change how bright the light is. The dimmer labeled “blue” is turned to adjust the color. Turn one direction and the output becomes bluer and vice versa. I personally suggest adjusting the color to your liking first, then adjusting the intensity to a suitable level. Kessil Logic does a great job keeping the light output as steady as possible even while adjusting the spectrum, but it is still likely to change some as the spectrum changes.
The second way to adjust the LED fixture is to use an external controller. The light features a pair of mini-jacks like those you would find for headphones. The first mini-jack is labeled “0-10V Output”. This line is used for daisy chaining multiple lights together. By connecting the output of the first light to the input of the second light, the first light will tell the second light what to do. If the first light is dimmed all of the lights further down the chain will do the same thing. To do this you need a male to male cord called the “Unit Link Cable”.
The second mini-jack is labeled “0-10V Input”. This jack can handle the input of both channels from a controller that has a 0-10v output of control. You basically purchase the compatible cable to attach between the light and your controller such as a Neptune Apex or Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper. Each controller will have its own verbiage but the principle will be the same. One of the 0-10v channels will control the intensity while the other will control the color. By doing this you can have your controller ramp the intensity and color up or down automatically throughout the day.
Connecting to a Neptune Apex:
If you would like to use the Apex then you need to utilize one of the Apex VDM ports. The VDM ports are standard on the regular Apex or Apex Gold systems and can also be added to an Apex Lite or Apex Jr via the VDM Module. You can connect the Neptune controller to the Kessil A360 by using the “Kessil A360 to Neptune Apex Control Cable.” It has the simple VDM plug on one side and the mini-jack for the A360 on the other. Programming is done via the VDM port programming in the software. We actually have a video on setting up a Kessil program through Apex Fusion that you can watch right here.
Connecting to a Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper:
To connect to a ReefKeeper Elite or ReefKeeper Lite system you need to purchase an ALC Module. The ALC Module is the Advanced Lighting Controller from Digital Aquatics. It features 0-10v output control via its small molex type plugs. To connect the ALC module to the Kessil A360 you use the Kessil A360 ReefKeeper Control Cable. This cable will have the mini-jack for the A360 on one and two plugs on the other (the ALC module has each channel entirely separate instead of incorporating two into the same plug like the Apex VDM). The ALC module assumes one channel is “Blue” and the other channel is “White”. These are just labels in the ReefKeeper software. Pick one to use as the color channel and one to use as the intensity channel. If you happen to them backwards in the software, just swap the places of the plugs on the ALC. It sure makes it easier than reprogramming the whole thing!
Kessil has recently announced the production of a new controller to be released this fall. Details are still a little thin on this unit but we did cover it in another blog article at Interzoo 2014. Checkout the article here for more information but essentially it will offer the basic programming options like dawn and dusk in an external controller that connects to the lights.
The A360 comes in two different flavors, the A360N and the A360W. The “W” in A360W is short for wide. The A360W is intended for a coverage diameter of about 24”, so 12” in each direction from the light. This system offers a wider spread at the expense of a bit of intensity. Intended for mixed reef tanks this model is great if spaced every 24” apart. The A360W comes in at 3.8” tall and 4” in diameter.
The A360N unit is the more focused “narrow” unit. This is the light intended for higher intensities. Designed for SPS tanks this light has a spread of about 18” across (9” out in each direction of the light). In an SPS tank one of these lights spaced every 18” would be great. The A360N lacks the wide angle lens of the A360W so it actually comes in a bit shorter at 3” tall and 4” in diameter.
Out of the box the Kessil basically just includes a hook to hang the light from your own chain. In the vast majority of cases people are going to want to look at picking up the Kessil Gooseneck. The Kessil Gooseneck has a tank bracket that clamps over the side of your tank. From there it features a 24” adjustable and bendable neck that you can use to adjust the light to the position of your choice. At $35 they run about the same price as the hanging kits sold by most light manufacturers and have to be about the least expensive tank mounting bracket I have seen. If you like you can also pick up a “Gooseneck 90 Degree Adapter”. This basically allows you to “hang” the light at the end of the Gooseneck instead of curving the neck down. It gives a more sleek look but is also a good way to cheat a few more inches (6-7”) out of the Gooseneck if you’re a bit short.
- Dimensions: 3.8″ Length x 4″ Diameter
- Coverage Area: 18″ surface diameter
- Power Usage: 90W
- Power Supply: 100-240 VAC (Input), 48 VDC, 1.87A (Output)
- Dimensions: 2.96″ Length x 4″ Diameter
- 24″ surface diameter by 3′ penetration (on average)
- Power Usage: 90W
- Power Supply: 100-240 VAC (Input), 48 VDC, 1.87A (Output)