houseplants HID lighting

I am fairly new to houseplants, but I love to grow them. I live in a NW facing apartment and don't receive any direct sun at all. I have two 24" fluorecent grow lights lit up 10 hrs per day as well as a 10" fluorecent tube. I have heard that these are much better than incondecent bulbs and use much less electricity. Recently, however, I have been reading about HID bulbs (HPS and MH) and really would like to invest in one. I have several bromelaids, an african violet, sheflora, sansaveria, some aloe vera, a ponytail, lucky bamboo, a crotan, and a few others currently. Since I don't know much about them, I would like to ask some questions for someone that is familiar with this type of grow light.
First of all, since they are expensive, I thought I would probably just get a MH bulb for now, possibly 175 or 400 watt. Is it true that these are the best overall light for growth (I have heard that HPS encourages blooming)? Later on in the future I might add a HPS.
Second question...are all MH bulbs alike? I can buy MH bulbs at Home Depot and Menards, but are these the right kind for plant growth or does it matter? Also, same with the HPS bulbs...are the menards bulbs the same as the ones you might buy with a grow light.
Third...Where is the best place to buy the fixtures? I have seen great fixtures online, but they are very $280 for a single ballast and $450 for a dual ballast. Are there outlets or lighting wholesalers that one can pick up ballasts relatively cheaply, because if so, I would just build my own fixture. I didn't know if anyone had ever looked.
Any helpful hints regarding using or buying grow lights would be helpfull. Thanks!
Ryan Birkenholz

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