so my initial plan was to go full out diy, with dimmers and all, but the cost is still quite high despite being much cheaper than most configs. The issue is the heatsink cost to me, its like 1/3 the cost. I was going to bite the bullet and pay up, then i stumbled upon a thread on a reefer site. Its called GU10 LEDs. Most people buy them from ebay and the result has been great growth of even clams for dirt cheap. Many reefers are on their third or second build of them already.
About GU10 builds:
Generally speaking most people use 3x1W or 1x3W bulbs with the formula since they are the most efficient heat wise (all types use the same style and size housing) tank length/2 - 1 for number of bulbs
12 inch width tanks = 1 tight row
larger = 2 or 3 rows of as much
you can play with the config, but generally this is enough to light a standard tank depth for sps and clams, some of fried their corals for going with more bulbs or putting the fixture too low, i think many put them at 6-10 inches above the tank.
most bulb manufactures sell several kinds of white bulbs (warm, natural, pure, daylight and cool), some sell blues, greens and reds. Very few use a royal blue LED, and i've not heard of anyone verifying it really is royal blue.
the typical blue needs a 1:1 ratio with cool white to get around a 14k MH colour temp. I've seen many go 2:1 or 1:2 aswell. Most who used red took em out cause they are so over powered.
Some manufactures on ebay already sell the 2 blues/1 cool white bulbs at a bit higher cost, if you go for these make sure they are royal blues if they are the only ones you are buying, or buy other bulbs to alternate with to add more white since the typical blue is powerful. Going factory direct rather than ebay can save a bit of chunk of cash and give you more custom bulbs.
Types of customization:
optics, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 (45,60 for low mounted LEDs, 30 typical)
Base: ER27 (standard light socket), GU10, MR16 - mr16 sometimes is 12 volts so be careful, er27 works but cant space bulbs as tightly. gu10 recommended, also cheapest socket to buy.
colour: warm, natural, pure, daylight and cool whites; Red; Green; Blue. STAY AWAY FROM THE RGB BULBS THAT YOU CAN CHANGE THE COLOURS WITH A REMOTE!
Wattage: single 3W, 3x1W recommended. higher wattage will need fan cooling with tight spacing (more heat) or you will have bulb burn out.
The plan is this, a fixture for my 20 G, but built to stand length mounted to the wall. This will allow me to simply add more bulbs if i need more light or change the tank size. the sockets will be mounted in two rows, but just slightly alternated apart, giving me more bulbs in a tigher space and make it easier to blend colours the way i want. I can fill all sockets above the tank, or leave a single space hear and there without worrying about spot lighting. since i plan to fan cool, i will make a "splash guard" despite it not needing to be that higher, it will just wood with holes cut in for the bulbs, so the air is channeled through better.
So i've contacted a few factories and one has agreed to make me whatever config i want, including mixing LEDs on single bulbs. But they sell in lots of 15 through the wholesale site i practically live on :P works out to around $70 a lot, more lots i buy the cost goes a bit down. Free shipping of course
Here is what i am ordering next friday (need to space out my purchases to avoid the wrath of wife)
3x2W bulbs of Two configs
2 blue, 1 cool white
1 blue, 1 cool white, 1 pure white
I was tempted to get a bulb config with red, but in reality i need maybe 3 or 4 at most with red and they risk overpowering, Most people i've read about who tried red just took them out in the end because they couldn't blend them in nicely, mind you they used the single bulbs, so it may work with 2 other colours in a bulb. Still not worth a whole lot purchase imo though. To try to add more red i took a shot in the dark by changing 1 led to pure white (some go warm white, but often its really yellow in LED), overall its still a 1:1 ratio of blues to white as recommended. with two lots, i will have extra bulbs to switch out configs to give more blue or more white if needed
if someone wants a lot, PM me and we can work something out, to whatever specs you want, just remember i've yet to try this out and its recommended to buy a bit more than you need due to DOAs and broken sockets.
I've not figured where im buying the sockets from, but they are cheap, easy to find and with free shipping.