Projector vs. Reflector Housing: The Basic for upgrading Car Headlights
When you are in the market to upgrade the car's headlights, you should consider several things. Before choosing the correct color temperature and the lumens or even thinking of HID vs. LED headlight bulbs, it is essential to check whether your car is ready for the upgrade. You may want to consider the headlight housing of your automobile to decide the future course of action.
Did you know headlight housing comes in two types: Projector and Reflector? You may want to upgrade the halogen headlights of your car to LED or HID bulbs. But if the existing housing is not compatible with your choice, the entire process may become troublesome. Let’s find answers to common questions associated with headlight housing.
1. What are Reflector Headlights?
A reflector headlight is easy to identify because of its shape. It consists of a chrome bowl with several reflectors. The bulb goes in the center of the bowl. As you switch on the headlights and ignite the bulb, the individual reflector surfaces will reflect light and provide you visibility on the road. As the chrome bowl has multiple reflectors, each reflector will throw light in different direction, and thus, it will not lead to a more focused beam pattern.
Usually, manufacturers used the reflector housing for cars built around the 2000s or before. If you have a used car or an affordable model, there are chances that you have reflector housing with a halogen bulb. However, instead of guesswork, it is best to check the manual or ask your dealer about the details.
The benefits of reflector headlights are that they are cheaper to the manufacturer and occupy lesser space than projector headlights. Thus, they were the preferred choice of the majority of car manufacturers in the past.
2. What kind of Bulbs are better suited for Reflector Headlights?
Because reflector headlights shine brightly without any concentrated beam pattern, they have the potential to create problems for oncoming drivers. Xenon HID bulbs can become too bright for reflector headlights. On the other hand, LEDs may not produce a sharp beam pattern because of the reflective mirrors on all sides.
Ideally, it is best to upgrade the entire headlight housing and choose projector housing. It is a popular upgrade, and several car manufacturers offer replacement projector housings that can displace the older reflector housing panels. Only if your car has a sealed reflector housing, you have little to no options. It is because you will not be able to replace the housing panel easily.
3. What are Projector Headlights?
A relatively newer invention in the automotive industry, projector headlights give your vehicle a modern look. Auto manufacturers introduced it in the 1980s. In the past, projector headlights were only limited to luxury, high-end vehicles. However, today several newer car models host projector headlights.
They have a lens that allows for a concentrated and sharp beam pattern on the roads. The main benefit of a projector headlight is that its design enables you to throw focused light down on the road. And, thus, it does not blind the oncoming drivers.
Now, projector headlights come in many types. If your car has dual-beam projector housing, it will have a cut-off shield/shutter in addition to the lens. The shutter allows you to project light in different ways. So, even if your car headlights have a single bulb, you get to enjoy dual beam (low beam and high beam) with the help of a dual-beam projector housing. And, it is the main advantage of projector headlights over reflector ones.
If your car has a single-beam projector, it will not have a shutter for changing the light beam pattern. In such a situation, the projector housing will have a separate, static projector for the low beam. And, it will have either a projector or reflector for the high beam. Nowadays, high-end cars use hybrid housing (dual-beam projector and reflector housings) for superior beam patterns.
4. Which Automotive Lighting Technology is more Compatible for Projector Headlights?
Xenon HID bulbs are perfect for projector headlights as the cut-off shield will ensure that the bright light falls on the road and illuminates the driver's path. However, it is not to say that LED bulbs are not ideal for projector headlights. As LED headlight bulbs do not require any buffer time to achieve full brightness, you can use them for instant illumination on dark roads.
With the modern type of headlight housing, you have both the options at your disposal, and it all depends on your preferences.
If you have reflector housing, you can opt for projector retrofit options available on the aftermarket. Now, no matter what transformation you decide to undertake for your vehicle, chances are that you will have one of the following halogen light bulbs: H11,9005 or 9012 single-beam halogen light bulbs.
When it comes to upgrading to HID or LED bulbs, check the bulb sizes and structure. For example, if your car has 9005 bulbs, choose 9005 LED headlight conversion kit or 9005 HID conversion kit, depending on your choices.
Now, you may buy LED bulbs or HID bulbs with the same number/type. However, their shape and size may differ and create problems at the time of installation. And, many brands may sell LEDs and HIDs with dull lighting patterns. So, it is essential to shop from a reputed automotive lighting seller.