With different types of headlight housing, come different types of headlights. Headlights like the projector headlights are high-performance headlights that were initially produced for luxury cars. They can use high-intensity discharge (HID) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that would be dangerous to use with regular reflector headlights.
Because of their design, projector headlights can illuminate more road surfaces at greater distances than standard reflector headlights. They illuminate a more focused beam of light than reflector headlights, resulting in more light being cast directly ahead, where it’s needed, and less spilling out to the sides, where it’s not needed.
How do projector headlights work
If you are wondering why the headlights of modern cars are so bright, it’s because they have technologies like the projector headlights for example. These headlights have a headlight assembly with replaceable bulb-like reflector headlights. They both have a reflector, but that’s about where the similarities end. The overall concept of projector headlights is based on the principle of focusing light using a specially-shaped reflector, then projecting it on the road with an evenly-distributed and tightly-organized beam pattern using a shutter.
These basic components are found in every projector headlight:
- Bulb: A bulb is required for every headlight, and projector headlights can use halogen, HID, or LED bulbs as light sources. Projector headlight bulbs can be significantly brighter than reflector headlight bulbs.
- Reflector: Projector headlights, like traditional reflector headlights, have a reflector component. The difference is that instead of a parabolic-shaped reflector, they use an elliptical-shaped one. The light released from the bulb in a projector headlight focuses on a tiny point near the front of the reflector, where it contacts a shutter due to the shape difference.
- Shutter: A projector headlight’s shutter is one of the most important components, and it’s something that traditional reflector headlight housings lack. This shutter is inserted below into the light beam, causing a sudden cutoff and efficiently aiming the light at the road rather than blinding other drivers. To switch between high and low beams, certain cars have a shutter raised and lowered.
- Lens: This is the final component of projector headlights, and it’s designed to properly distribute the light beam that the elliptical reflector and shutter have already shaped and focused. When the headlights shine on the road, some projector headlight lenses have a function that softens the cutoff line between light and dark. So, it’s worthwhile to mention that the lens needs to be cleaned regularly using a restoration wipe as they are susceptible to oxidation.
Types of projector headlights
Although all projector headlights have the same fundamental design, they can employ a range of different bulbs. These are the most common types of projector headlights you’ll see on the road, along with a quick description of what makes each one unique:
- Halogen projector headlights: The original projector headlights, like reflector headlights, uses halogen bulbs. Though they use the older halogen bulb technology, these headlights often project a more even light beam than reflectors, with a sharper cutoff between light and dark.
- HID projector headlights: HID bulbs were used in the second generation of projector headlights, still available today. Xenon HID headlights are another name for these. They’re substantially brighter and last far longer than standard halogen bulbs. Because HID bulbs are so much brighter than halogen bulbs, it’s almost always a terrible idea to use them in projector housings meant for halogen.
- LED projector headlights: This is a relatively new invention. They use a lot less energy and last a lot longer than halogen or HID headlights. LED projector headlights can even outlast the operational lifespan of the car they’re placed in if they’re not damaged in any manner.
- Halo or Angel Eye projector headlights: The distinctive ring, or halo, of light seen in some projector headlights, is referred to as this. Despite the fact that the ring is commonly referred to as halo or angel eye projector headlights, it does not use projector technology. These rings are made using different technologies, including cold cathode fluorescent lighting (CCFL) tubes, LEDs, and even incandescent bulbs.
Projector headlights vs. Reflector headlights
It’s worth questioning which is better since most headlights use either a reflector or a projector design. Each year, more cars are equipped with projector headlights, and you can retrofit projector housings to an older vehicle, but should you? Projector headlights have many advantages and only a few disadvantages.
Projector headlights are almost always preferable to reflector headlights when buying a new car. Aside from them featuring adaptive headlights, when comparing HID projector headlights to LED projector headlights, there’s more of a debate, but the only thing reflector headlights have to go for is that they’re cheap.