I'm not sure that "cheap" and "reliable" go together very well, sorry. If I had Alien Bees I would look at the Radio Popper studio version, which lets you set the power levels from the transmitter.
Ah yes, all is relative in the price/performance world. I had in mind a reasonably well made paring knife vs a 26 function Swiss Army knife. The Radio Poppers look very interesting and even have some Swiss Army-type functioning to control the Alien Bees, which is icing on the cake for me. Thanks.