Projector Headlights vs. Reflector Headlights: What’s The Difference?

Projector Headlights vs. Reflector Headlights: What’s The Difference?Popular PostsRelated posts

If you are hunting to up grade your auto in the near potential, you may appear throughout two conditions you may well not have heard ahead of: projector and reflector headlights. These two families of headlamps are the dominant engineering when it arrives to how automobiles light-weight up dim roadways at evening. If you did not know that there are two sorts of headlights competing in the marketplace these days, you are not by yourself. For a extended time, reflector headlights have been so common that most folks did not know that there was a entirely different choice. Now, thanks to new technologies and modern day design and style sensibilities, much more and far more automobiles are transport with projector headlights instead of reflectors.

So, what is the difference in between projector and reflector headlights? Is 1 much better than the other? Which sort is correct for you? Let us dig in.

Overview of Projector Headlights:

Projector headlights are a certain type of headlamp technological innovation. Projector headlights use a blend of a little, curved lens and small reflectors to produce extreme beams of gentle that are reasonably narrow in dimension and condition. Projector headlights have been gaining popularity in latest a long time, and substantial-depth discharge (HID) bulbs are becoming utilised in projector headlamp assemblies. HID lights are the vibrant blue beams that are designed by electrifying xenon fuel and give off a vivid light-weight. Projector headlights use a focusing position to power all of the light-weight by means of a scaled-down spot which is what generates the tighter beams of light-weight.

Projector headlights are scaled-down and far more recessed than reflector headlights. Numerous folks like the appear of projector headlights over reflector headlights. They are far more modern looking and have more versatility in their design and style by the auto and element producers.

Even so, projector headlights are far more complicated than reflector headlights. This makes them much more high-priced to develop, much more challenging to support, and significantly less typical than reflector headlights. Most older autos even now use reflector headlights and discovering components and bulbs for projector techniques can be more challenging than locating typical halogen bulbs.

projector headlight
Image Credit: BLKstudio, Shutterstock

How To Identify Projector Headlights

Projector headlights are distinguishable by their exterior lens. The entrance of a projector bulb has a bulbous lens that sits on the outside the house of the light-weight. The consequence is a light that appears equivalent to an eye with a lens more than the leading. These headlights are usually little, circular, and recessed into the entrance of the car.

What Bulbs Go Well With Projector Headlights?

The greatest types of lights for projector headlights are HID bulbs. These modern day lights use xenon fuel to generate extreme blue mild. A lot of projector headlight assemblies are made to be used with present day HID lighting fixtures. Certain kinds of modern halogen bulbs can also be utilised in projector headlights, but they will not create as considerably gentle as HID bulbs. Some men and women put LED lights into their projector headlamps but LED headlights ended up mainly developed to be utilised with old reflector housing instead than projector headlights.

  • Modern aesthetic
  • Bright confined beams
  • Latest technology
  • More complicated
  • Harder to service
  • More expensive

Overview of Reflector Headlights:

Reflector headlights are regarded as to be the old engineering by several auto enthusiasts nowadays. Reflector headlights use a really basic bowl to replicate the light of the bulb on to the street. Reflector headlights have been in use for decades, and they are the easier and far more well-known technology when it will come to headlamps.

Reflector headlamps have a considerably wider dispersion of light-weight when compared to projector headlights. This bathes the highway in a dimmer gentle but offers a more substantial field of view. Because of to the nature of an uncontrolled reflective dome, reflector headlights have far more waste than projector headlights. The light-weight is reflected in a far more chaotic sample. This creates a wider discipline, but it also dilutes the gentle a lot a lot more than projector headlights.

Given that reflector headlights are more mature and clunkier in their design and style, they are slipping out of favor with several designers and car lovers. The reflector headlight assemblies have a larger and uglier footprint than the more confined projector headlamps. From Jeeps to motorcycles to sports automobiles, men and women are moving absent from reflectors to projectors primarily based on the aesthetic by itself. But appears are not every thing. Reflectors have a lengthy and trustworthy background of illuminating roadways all more than the globe.

mechanic holding a reflector headlight
Image Credit: DiPres, Shutterstock

How To Identify Reflector Headlights

Reflector headlights are what many men and women would take into account common or standard headlights. These fixtures can be discovered by their large shallow area that is coated in a mirror-like material. Reflector headlights are the most typical variety of headlights, and they are identified on most cars, especially more mature vehicles. The reflector headlight has a single bulb at the back of the unit that shines into this shallow bowl which creates the gentle required to illuminate the road.

These headlights are bigger and more pronounced than projector headlights. Possibilities are if you did not know there was a distinction amongst projector and reflector headlights, reflectors are the kinds that will initial come to head.

What Bulbs Go Well With Reflector Headlights?

Normal halogen bulbs are normally your very best wager for reflector headlights. These bulbs aren’t as vivid as some of the other possibilities, but they are the cheapest and best to locate and change. LED bulbs are typically designed with reflector headlights in thoughts but in some circumstances, LED lights can be way too bright and wide for use on normal streets. If you are hunting to get far more light-weight out of an outdated reflector headlight device, then LED lights can be regarded as an option to dimmer halogen bulbs.

  • Easy to service
  • Tried and true technology
  • Cheap
  • More light waste
  • Generally dimmer
  • Not as stylish


Are Projector or Reflector Headlights Better?

Contemporary projector headlights are the most current engineering. Reflector headlights are now becoming observed as the more mature version of headlamps. Nevertheless, 1 is not necessarily much better than the other. Reflector headlights are low-cost, simple to operate on, and have a extended observe document of accomplishment. Reflector headlights do not usually blind oncoming drivers, and they give a very broad subject of gentle when driving.

Projector headlights make a narrower and more intensive beam of gentle. They frequently give off that bluish hue that is associated with modern day autos. The projector headlights do not give off extreme gentle in as broad of a field as reflector headlights, but they are typically brighter. The most recent variable light technology that enables for adaptive dimming and brightening are based mostly on projector headlight technology.

The base line is if you think your headlights are vibrant sufficient for your every day use, you likely really don't have to modify them. Most individuals really do not even know if they have reflector or projector lights which means the distinctions can not be all that pronounced. Equally varieties of technological innovation are very good sufficient to go federal requirements, and both are being utilized in the style of new vehicles.

Car headlights
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Are Projector Headlights Better Than LEDs?

Some folks imagine projector headlights are better than LED headlights due to the fact projector headlights are developed to make a brilliant, confined beam of mild. LED headlights are striving to replicate the projector headlight technique in a reflector harness. Reflector headlights had been by no means made with the intention of getting LEDs inserted in them. For that purpose, some individuals choose projectors simply because they were designed to naturally generate the kind of light LEDs are trying to replicate.

Nonetheless, some men and women even now choose LEDs. LED headlights are very vivid, but the reflector base tends to make it so this light is extensively dispersed and produces a lot of “light waste” as nicely as perhaps harmful brightness for oncoming motorists.

Can You Change Reflector Headlights To Projector Headlights?

Technically, yes. But the swap from outdated reflector headlights to projector headlights is not an simple one particular. It is not a alter that an regular driver will be able to make at home on their possess. Electrical and mechanical expertise is essential in get to substitute reflector lights with projector headlights. Some aftermarket entire body shops or personalized car electricians will be able to do the task, but it is not with no hazards.

Heading from reflector headlights to projector headlights is not as basic as swapping out a bulb. The entire headlamp assembly with all to be removed and replaced. That is not a job that average motorists should attempt to undertake on their own with no the correct track record.

Headlights are an essential safety attribute of all vehicles, and obtaining some thing go incorrect with your headlights can be hazardous. In practically every single circumstance, it is better to stick with the native headlight program that your vehicle arrived with than attempt to substitute the total headlamp assembly.

car and road divider


When it will come to security and functionality, neither projectors nor reflectors are automatically greater than a single an additional. The major variances lie in their style and the way they output mild relatively than 1 being strictly far better than the other. In most circumstances, if you have one particular type of headlight on your vehicle, that is the a single you need to adhere with. Nevertheless, there might be instances when you are shopping for a new vehicle the place you may possibly want to know the big difference amongst these two items and know how to spot them at first glance.

Featured Graphic Credit history: DiPres, Shutterstock