The Kessil AP9X has been teased since the fall of last year, and yesterday this exciting light fixture finally went live. Clocking in at 185 watts, $839, and with a unique form factor in the aquarium hobby, this is one fixture that many Kessil fans have been waiting for.
It’s been over five years since Kessil introduced its first light fixture with the AP700 that filled a particular niche in the reef aquarium hobby. This flat aquarium panel essentially combined two of their high power dense matrix array LEDs – with some tweaks – into a form factor that is more suitable for certain applications.
Instead of making small revisions and iterations of the aquarium panel every year to 18 months, we really appreciate that the AP9X is the result of a significant redesign, and it shows both in the appearance of the fixture itself, and in the improved brightness of lighting that it puts out. One of the first things we mention in the video, and that you can’t appreciate in pictures, is just how physically small, thin, and very light the Kessil AP9X has become; it’s so small yet it puts out a surprising amount of light into the aquarium.
Just as we’ve seen in some of the newest LED light releases, Kessil has included more actual diodes, crammed them into their dense matrix array, and drives them at lower power for more overall efficiency and better heat dissipation. We can take all the PAR values until our curiosity is satisfied, but no amount of number spreadsheets or intensity maps can convey just how unexpectedly bright the Kessil AP9X is with its custom multichip LEDs.
We’ve been waiting for the AP9X to be released by Kessil for some months and we knew we wanted to try it out on our 75 gallon EXT aquarium by Innovative Marine. This aquarium is 36 x 24 x 24 inches and filled with a variety of colonies of everyone’s favorite group of corals, Euphyllia. Since the hammer corals, torch coral, frogspawn and hybrid Euphyllias inside are many different colors, this display is ideally suited to demonstrate the color channels and rendition of the Kessil AP9X.
Besides the obvious aesthetic and performance upgrades, the other much improved feature of the Kessil AP9X is definitely the wireless connectivity, enabling users to control and program this new light with great ease. Just like the controls included with the wireless dongle that is used with the A360X spotlights, you can connect to the light directly, or through a local router so you can control multiple lights at the same time, and even group the AP9X with a spotlight as we have done for two adjacent displays.
Downloading the app, connecting to the light, programming the wifi network and getting everything working took very little time and it then became very easy to make the light dance with all its various color channels. We especially enjoyed being able to simply add the Kessil AP9X to the same group we created for the A360X, and now these two lights are controlled and go through their programmed schedule in unison.
Running Kessil’s largest spotlight next to their newest panel shaped fixture really demonstrates how much more light the AP9X puts out. The use of a basic lens and reflectors really preserves a ton of the apparent brightness and massive shimmer lines compared to the hemispherical lens of the spotlight (although there is also an optional add-on reflector for the spotlight).
If you’re a fan of Kessil’s particular blend of light spectrum, you’ll love the AP9X even more because it really swings to the pendulum towards the short wavelengths. With a rating of 185 watts, it still pushes around 160 watts when the fixture is set to all blue, there’s a generous helping of violet wavelengths, and together they just make the corals pop like crazy. The fluorescence is so intense sometimes that feel like we’re wearing yellow or orange glasses even when we’re just seeing it with our ‘bare’ eyes; the Instagram reefers will not be able to get enough of this look.
We’re very pleased with the brightness of the AP9X, the particular focus on blue spectrum, the ease of connecting and controlling the different channels, but most of all how it looks on our aquarium. If you’re a fan of Kessil overall then you’re guaranteed to love the AP9X and there’s no no doubt that we’ll be seeing it power many awesome reef displays over the coming months and years.