I was going to go CFL, but my buddy said those bulbs need to be replaced every 3 months or they start growing algae...
Sounds like your buddy is taking the easy blame route. There is a LOT to algae besides lighting, and what solves algae in one tank might not work for another.
Simply put, light is light, regardless of the source. The plants don't care if you're getting 900 lumens of 6500K light from a twisty bulb, a straight tube, or LED. Algae is caused by an imbalance of Light, CO2, and nutrients.
That said, the CFLs have never been reliable for me in dry environments, such as bedroom lamps and such. I can only imagine what havoc a damp environment like an aquarium hood would do to the driver circuitry (which is the most common failure on the CFL... too much high voltage on cheap components in too close of a space.)
When it comes to lighting fixtures, you often get what you pay for. A solid brand commercially produced LED fixture is going to give you much more joy than a home-brew concoction of lighting devices. You'll also have much better warranty and community support for the fixture.
Your Tank, Your Money, Your Prerogative.