Review: Kelo AO 100S LED

As we have been running a Kelo AO100S over our nano tank for a few months we thought it was high-time we added a review of this unit particularly as we’ve also recently been able to add the new Kelo wireless controller into the set-up and this has really unlocked the functionality of this light. 

Out of the box, the Kelo is generously equipped with everything you need to get it up-and-running over your tank including both gooseneck and hanging wire fixing options. We also have some useful miscellaneous items included, such as the gooseneck bracket and clamping screws (which allows it to be connected to a variety of different rim styles) plus simple instruction manual, and some cable ties to keep the power cable nice and neat. The packaging is excellent quality with all components laid out neatly, yet held tightly in cut-out sections within the thick foam cushioning.

The light unit itself is cylindrical in shape, measures in at a compact 10x11cm and is low in weight. In the hand, the powder-coated aluminium body feels well-made and the same holds true for the gooseneck attachment which has proven its ability to hold the light in place over the long term on our own system. It perhaps isn’t as flexible as first appears but the united fitted perfectly over our nano system. We are not sure it would stretch any further forward though (while remaining able to be angled vertically), so we suggest you check this before you buy. On top of the light we have two dials which can be used to manually tune the spectrum of the light and to manually dim it anywhere from just a few percent up to 100% of its 100w total maximum output. Take note that without the controller (or Apex connection), the unit has to be controlled via the dials on top of the unit and timers which perhaps reduces its functionality in our eyes. However when attached, control over the two different channels of the unit is unlocked, and this even allows for units to be daisy-chained together. The controller itself is very compact and unassuming although it takes a number of wires to connect it to the light unit. Once connected it was very easy to get the controller working and this involved downloading an app on our smartphone, connecting to the Kelo, and then running through a simple light programming process. The instructions aren’t great to be honest but it’s very simple… just be sure you connect to cables into the right socket on the light (we initially plugged the controller into the light unit’s output socket by accident and couldn’t get it working). Programming is very simple and involved the use of sliders to control the intensity of each channel. These sliders relate to key periods in the cycle such as dawn, high noon and dusk so it really is very intuitive.

Featuring Cree, SemiLED and Osram bulbs, the unit itself is a dense-matrix type LED, so it differs from certain other products that spread their LED diodes over much wider array. In such wider arrays this can sometimes means that the light produced by different colour bulbs does not blend well, and can be seen in the aquarium as unrealistic multicolour shadows. In the Kelo, the bulbs are essentially only 2 colours so this isn’t a problem and while it doesn’t offer red, green or yellow bulbs, the ‘old school’ blue and white bulbs are of a pleasing appearance on their own, or combined together they offer a wider spectrum that will keep even the most high demand corals (albeit provided they are located at a suitable distance from the bulb). At a height of several inches from the water surface, given the penetrating power, we’d suggest that even demanding SPS corals can be maintained at up to around 12 inches depth with this light (assuming other conditions are faviourable). The format of the array also lends itself to an attractive shimmer effect perhaps more so than other lights, and the unit looks particularly stunning during dawn and dusk phases with just blue light output. Such lighting showcases coral fluorescence particularly well. With a 90 degree optic, the spread seems to match Kelo’s claimed 60x60cm footprint with the light suspended several inches above the water surface. As with any LED unit, we advise that the aquarist should be careful to ensure corals do not suffer from shadowing (where the non-illuminated side of the coral suffers die back).

Available at the time of writing for just £250 including the controller, we think that the Kelo is particularly suitable for budget-conscious reefers who don’t have the most demanding species and who want to create both a stunning shimmer effect and vivid coral fluorescence in their aquarium!

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