So far in my planted tank time, I've used only DIY fixtures until today.
I was really curious about the SBReef lighting that I've seen others use for great results and I had some money to spend, so I picked up two of the 18" basic models for my 55 gallon.
First impressions out of the box are good build quality for the fixture itself, but it's a little lightweight for there to be a full heat sink in there.
First impressions on the tank, with just 20%/20% on the channels, my plants instantly started pearling. This is something that I was able to get on my DIY fixture, but only when driving the channels at 80% and above. Typically for the guessing game that I dealt with for DIY LED's I could get really strong pearling at very low settings, just at the end of the light cycle.
I don't know what the result of the plants will be, but IMO all light can grow plants fine, we'll see what happens with the red plants that I have right under the middle row.
The reason why I went with the pre-built fixture is because the par values have been documented
so I'm not having to guess at what I have.
The mounting hardware is useless if you have a glass top because they don't fit down the inside meaning you have to set it on top of the glass top.
The mounting hardware has the legs go through about half an inch so if you're in my position putting 2 of the 18" models on a 4ft tank the middle legs won't sit flat and the screw hole increments don't allow you to fix this. I got these lights to hang them so this isn't that big of an issue in the long run.
The 90 degree beam angle means that there's lower par and visual brightness around the outside of the fixture. Again not that big of an issue because I'm going to use plants that can adapt to lower light in these spots.
Nice lights, easy to install, easy to use.
The same fixture could be built for around $100 for a single 18" model, or around $200 for two if you use the same diodes provided in some diode layouts floating around for these lights.