Projector Vs HID Headlights: What is The Difference?

As an owner of a vehicle, it is normal to be curious about different headlight terms and types. Many of us already know that most vehicles come with a stock headlight that is halogen in reflector housing.

But you may keep hearing about terms like HID and projector headlights. If you want to install them on your vehicle, you may need to replace the headlight housing. It is unless the car already comes with a stock projector housing.

If these terms are unbeknownst to you and you want to know their differences, you are in the right place. Go through the sections below for proper details about projector and HID headlights.

Projector Vs HID Headlights Comparison Chart

The comparison chart below should provide you with basic and brief explanations of projector and HID headlights and why they are different.

Categories

Projector

HID

Types

Headlight housing

Headlight bulb

Cost

$275 on average

$100 on average

Compatible with

HID, LED

Projector housing

Dark Spots

No

Rarely

Components

Bulb, reflector, shutter, and lens

Bulb, reflector hood, HID ballast

As you can see, the main difference between the two is that they are entirely two different parts of a headlight system. A projector is the housing, while HID is a bulb.

What Are Projector Headlights?

A projector headlight is a complete headlight housing that even includes the bulb. In fact, HID is the bulb that works the best with a projector housing. It is bright, pricey, and slowly becoming more popular.

Similar to another headlight system, reflector, projector headlights also have a reflector bowl. It has a unique shutter that helps the headlight focus downward. The components below are what completes a projector headlight-

Bulb

The bulb is the root source of the light. A projector headlight is best compatible with HID bulbs. But it also works with LED. Since LED and HID have a high lumen, projector headlights are brighter than reflector headlights that use halogen.

Reflector Hood

The elliptical shape of the reflector in a projector headlight makes them different from a reflector bowl in a reflector headlight. This shape allows the light to focus solely on one point, which is the shutter.

Shutter

With the help of the shutter, the light coming from the reflector gets cut off by half. It then goes downward only. As a result, projector headlights have good downward visibility.

Lens

While the light coming from the shutter reaches the lens, it spreads evenly on the road. Projector headlights have pretty modern lenses because of their high usage on luxurious cars in the early days.

Why and Who Should Use

Projector headlights are the brightest ones you can go for. Keep in mind that projector housing accepts HID bulbs the best. For LED or halogen users, projector headlights wouldn’t be an ideal investment.

On the other hand, projector headlight systems are pretty expensive. It has two reasons. They have a higher production cost and provide brighter light. So, consider your budget and make the right decision.

Finally, projector headlights are suitable for nighttime drives. If driving at night is something you need to do, we suggest going for projector housing.

Benefit 

  • Projector headlights are brighter than reflector headlights.
  • They provide better downward visibility for the avoidance of blinding others.
  • They look stylish.
  • Projector headlights reduce the dark spot issue.

Drawback

  • It cost so much, which can be an issue for many.
  • Projector headlights take more space to install.

1. Anzo USA 111404 DODGE RAM 09-18 PROJECTOR PLANK STYLE HEADLIGHT

Anzo USA 111404 DODGE RAM 09-18 PROJECTOR PLANK STYLE HEADLIGHT

2009-2018 DODGE RAM 1500 / 2010-2018 RAM 2500/3500 PROJECTOR PLANK STYLE HEADLIGHT

Pros

  • It features a plug-and-play installation.
  • It can survive all types of harsh weather.
  • You get both the driver and passenger side headlights.
  • The highest quality materials are used on it.
  • You can easily replace the bulb by peeling off the dust cover at the back.

Cons

  • It comes with a standard halogen bulb, which is not properly compatible with projector housing.
  • It does not fit tightly, and the light may wiggle a bit on rough roads.

Among many projector headlights on the market, the Anzo USA 111404 shows great performance. It fits all the Dodge RAM models from 2009 to 2018 and comes with the compliance of DOT and SAE.

Aside from the peak quality materials, it has an abrasive coating and a UV-resistance. It comes with both headlights from the driver’s and passenger’s sides.

This excellent projector headlight survived salt spray, moisture, and dust test and operated perfectly on a wide temperature range. Aside from all that, you are getting a complete headlight that looks so modern.

What Are HID Headlights?

HID headlights are one among three types of headlight bulbs. HID is brighter than halogen but less bright than LED. It uses a ballast system to regulate and transfer electricity to the bulb to avoid wasting energy and reduce burnout possibilities.

HID bulbs usually last for around 2000 to 3000h and provide enough light to let you traverse through the darkness of the night. Have a look at the components of an HID headlight system-

Bulb

The bulb contains two electrodes inside it. By jumping between them, the electricity arcs create light. Meanwhile, there are metal halide salts with xenon gas inside an HID bulb. This gas allows the light to brighten up as quickly as within ten seconds.

Reflector

The reflector reflects the light from the HID bulb and projects them on a shutter. This reflector is elliptical shaped because it is required to use projector housing with an HID.

Ballast

The ballast transfer and regulate the electrical energy needed for the light bulb. The ballast doesn’t allow the light to spend more energy than necessary, reducing wastes to a high amount.

Why and Who Should Use

HID headlights are a good option for people who wants to upgrade their stock headlights. It is a bit pricey compared to halogen lights.

Meanwhile, if you have a stock halogen headlight, you may need to change the entire housing to projector, which will cost extra. It may cost a total of $275 on average to do a total housing change along with the bulb. Consider these expenses before going for an HID.

HID allows you to drive properly at night and offer you a high lumen and color. If you need to commute at night pretty often, HID headlights are an ideal option for you. Their installation process is complex most of the time and requires expert helps. So, consider that as well.

Pros

  • It provides an excellent downward focus.
  • It gives you a bright light beam with a whiter color.
  • It lasts longer compared to halogen headlights.
  • HID headlights are really energy efficient.

Cons

  • They are pricier compared to halogen headlights with reflector housing.
  • They have a lower brightness than LED lights.
  • The installation process of HID lights is often very complex and time-consuming.

2. DMEX D2S – For Vehicles with D2S Stock Headlights

DMEX D2S - 35W - 6000K Cool White Xenon Headlight HID Bulbs

100% Quartz Anti-UV Glass, Excellent in Performance. Up to 3800 Lumens - More Brighter than Original Standard HID Bulb.

Pros

  • The irradiation distance is 50m for a better experience and legality.
  • It features OEM quality parts.
  • It can operate on only 35W.
  • The headlight offers a break response time of 4.5 seconds.

Cons

  • It only fits vehicles with D2S stock headlights.
  • The installation process is pretty complex and takes time.

If you love bright lights from your car headlights, the DMEX D2S will satisfy your need. With a lumen of 3800 per bulb, you can view the road ahead clearly. Combining that with the 6,000K color, this is one of the brightest HID bulbs for your projector headlight.

During the daytime, the quartz Anti-UV glass saves the bulbs from sun rays. The Xenon gas inside the bulb case is of the peak tier.

Meanwhile, DMEX chose tungsten as the material for the electrode for better heat efficiency. It features a lifespan of 3,000h, which is a lot more than average HID bulbs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are projector headlights better than HID?

Projector headlights are not better than HID lights. Both types of headlights are used for similar purposes, and both have pros and cons. They also use similar technologies, and both HID and projector headlights offer good visibility in low light conditions. 

However, projector headlights do not cast much light, and they are not as bright as HID headlights. Also, they have a lower life span than HID headlights, and they cost more to buy.

Why are projector headlights better?

Projector headlights are better than conventional headlights in terms of visibility, safety, and ease of installation. They generate a bright light beam that shines further and is visible for a greater distance. They are also safer than conventional headlights as they don’t blind other drivers.

Which bulb is better for projector headlights?

LED bulbs are the best bulbs for projectors. They generate less heat and are very efficient in terms of brightness. You can choose from white, amber, blue and red.

Do projector headlights use regular bulbs?

Yes, regular bulbs can be used as projector headlights. You can also use regular bulbs for your car headlight system, but it is advisable to get bulbs specifically made for such purposes. They have a more uniform and focused beam, which is ideal for projectors.

Are projector headlights better than halogen?

Projector headlights are great for improving your car's visibility, but they don't work like regular headlights. In fact, a typical projector headlight is an extension of the vehicle's headlights and uses a small, powerful light source for projecting bright beams of light.

A typical halogen light bulb only produces a light beam and isn't designed to project light. Hence, they're not designed to improve visibility.

How can I improve my projector headlights?

Projector headlights depend entirely on the brightness and quality of the bulbs you are using, and how long you use them. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to fully recharge a headlight. Depending on your needs, you can use the lights for short periods, or recharge them for a longer time span.

Why does my projector flicker?

Projectors tend to flicker when the ambient light levels are low. This happens because projectors don't always generate enough light output, or are lacking sufficient contrast for a stable image. It's best to check the projector's settings for the image quality and contrast, and make sure that the room is properly illuminated before using the projector.

How do you know when a projector bulb is bad?

A good rule of thumb is to replace it when the brightness starts fading. Another thing to check is whether the light source is still visible. A projector lamp will only show as a white dot when it's blown.

Final Note

Now you should know that you can have both a projector headlight and a HID on your vehicle simultaneously. In fact, they work the best together. If you are a lover of bright lights, go for this combination.

In case that you don’t want to spend that much, you can pick a reflector headlight with halogen bulbs. Whichever one you choose, make sure that it fits your vehicle model.

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