Projector Vs Reflector Headlights – Which One You Should Choose?

Planning to replace your halogen bulbs with HID or LED ones? Great choice! However, you have to consider changing the housing of your headlights.

Reflector housing was the only option in the automotive industry since electric headlights. Projector headlights are a new addition. So, when it comes to projector vs reflector headlights, which one to choose?

This question requires a bit of explanation! Below, we compared both kinds of headlight housings and described which one can be the better option for you:

Reflector Vs Projector Headlights Comparison Chart

Let’s look at a brief comparison chart that will give you a quick understanding of the two types.
Header

Reflector

Projector

Cost

Cheaper; $125 on average

Pricier; $275 on average

Angle of light

Reflector housing emits light at a wider angle but the intensity is low.

Projector housing emits highly focused light with higher brightness.

Best for (bulb)

LED

HID

Components

Bulb and reflector bowl

Bulb, reflector bowl, shutter and lens

Dark spots

Yes

No

Size

Small

Deeper than reflector headlights; requires more space.

Downward visibility

Medium

High

Reflector shape

Parabolic

Elliptical

What Are Projector Headlights?

Projector headlights are the brightest option available right now. Projectors mostly use HID bulbs for operation but there are options with LEDs as well. Once used only for luxury cars, projector headlamps have become more common in recent years for everyday drivers!

What Are Projector Headlights

The only similarities between projector and reflector headlights are replaceable bulbs and reflectors. Such headlights use a shutter to project the light focused by the reflector. These are the basic parts of a projector headlight:

Bulb

Even though it is recommended to use HID bulbs on a projector headlight, you can still use a range of LEDs available. Bulbs reach the maximum lumen potential on a projector housing compared to reflector ones.

Reflector

Even though both projector and reflector housings have a reflector, the shapes are different. Compared to the parabolic one used in reflector headlights, projector housings have an elliptical-shaped reflector. Such a shape makes the light focused on the shutter.

Shutter

This component of projector housings makes them better than reflector headlights by a good margin! Shutter allows the light to have a sharp cutoff. As a result, the emitted light from the headlight has better downward visibility. It focuses on the road and does not blind upcoming drivers!

Lens

Lens distributes the light evenly. Projector lenses usually rock a stylish look due to good-looking housing and lenses.

Why and Who Should Use

Even though comparatively, projector headlights are a lot better than reflector ones, there are a few factors to consider before you make your purchase.

First of all, projector headlights are more expensive than reflector ones. Good quality projector headlamps are available at around $300. Go for projectors if you have the right budget.

Moreover, the type of bulb you are going to use plays into the factor of choosing the right headlight housing. Projectors are better for HID bulbs. However, if you are going to get LEDs or halogen bulbs, spending a lot on projector headlights may not be the best idea!

Briefly, if you do not drive a lot during the night and want to keep your spending low, projector headlights aren’t the right option. On the other hand, if you have a good budget and want to get the best and the brightest headlight for your f150 in the market, projector is the answer!

Pros

  • Brightest headlights in the market! Significantly brighter than both OEM halogen and reflector headlights.
  • Provides more downward visibility due to the shutter. Does not blind upcoming drivers and has a sharp cutoff.
  • With a narrower lighting angle, projector headlights have little to no dark spots. Light distributes evenly.
  • They are aesthetically better than other types of headlights.
  • Can use HID bulbs, unlike reflector headlights.

Cons

  • More expensive than reflector headlights.
  • Requires more space due to a larger size.

1. AmeriLite Jet Black Projector Headlights

AmeriLite Jet Black Projector Headlights

 09-18 Dodge RAM 1500, 10-18 RAM 2500/3500 ALL Models: Factory Projector and Non-Projector Trims & 19- Classic Models

Pros

  • Plug and play installation. Took less than 30 minutes to get both of them installed.
  • Great weather protection; moisture doesn’t go in easily and there is no discoloration after long use.
  • 4 different lighting modes: high beam, low beam, running light, and turn signal.
  • Comes with bulbs that are easily replaceable.

Cons

  • The bulbs included are standard halogen.
  • The white LED running light is not very bright.

The stylish Jet Black from AmerliLite is a great projector headlight for 2009-2018 Dodge RAM 1500 and 2010-2018 Dodge RAM 2500/3500. Along with high and low beams with projector housing, the headlight includes an LED running light and a turn signal.

It comes with regular halogen bulbs that are as good as OEM. However, we replaced them with HIDs and they looked great!

You get better beam cutoff, higher brightness, and the cool aesthetically pleasing look of projector headlights on the Jet Black.

One of the best things about this headlight was how durable and weatherproof it is. It does not allow moisture to get in and remains scratchproof on the harshest weather conditions!

What Are Reflector Headlights?

Reflectors headlights are the most common option since they have been around for decades. Such headlights are found in most cars these days due to their low manufacturing and less space requirement.

What Are Reflector Headlights

Reflector headlights are most commonly used for LED and halogen bulbs. However, a few HID bulbs are currently available in the market that works with reflector housing. Here are the main components of a reflector headlight:

Bulb

Reflector headlights include replaceable bulbs. However, unlike projector headlights, reflector housings are not suitable for HID bulbs. Installing HIDs in reflector housing will be dangerous as it can blind upcoming drivers. Therefore, the bulbs used in reflector housing are usually LED or halogen.

Reflector

The reflector used in such headlights are parabolic-shaped. They spread the light evenly instead of concentrating it on a focal point. The reflector consists of multiple mirrors that work together.

Why and who should Use

Reflector headlights are significantly cheaper than projector ones. You can find a good reflector headlight at around $125. Therefore, if you do not want to spend a lot on replacing your headlights, going for reflectors is a great idea.

Moreover, it is better to have reflector housing if you are going to use LED or halogen bulbs. Some bulbs that are not HID can lack performance in a projector housing. On an additional note, if you want to go for headlights that are easier to install, reflectors are a good consideration.

Pros

  • Cheaper than projector headlights. Suitable if you don’t want to spend a lot.
  • Smaller in size. Therefore, easier to install into older cars.
  • Can be better for LED and halogen bulbs.

Cons

  • The beat pattern has more dark spots compared to projector headlights.
  • Wider beam pattern but lacks brightness.
  • Lacks proper downward visibility.
  • Not suitable for HID bulbs.

2. AUTOSAVER88 Headlight Assembly

AUTOSAVER88 Headlight Assembly

Compatible with 2003 2004 2005 2006 Avalanche Silverado 1500 2500 3500/2007 Chevrolet Silverado Classic Headlamp Black Housing Clear Lens and Reflector

Pros

  • Features high beam, low beam, amber reflector, and turn signal lights.
  • Vertically fully adjustable.
  • Bulbs are included with the headlights.
  • Good weather resistance blocks moisture out. One-way vent helps get rid of moisture from the inside.
  • Includes high and low beam adjuster.

Cons

  • Installation takes longer than expected.
  • Does not fit some LED bulbs.

The Autosaver88 is one of the best reflector headlights in the market for Jeep Grand Cherokee models. They have four different types of light modes from high and low beams to amber reflector and turn signals.

When it comes to aesthetics, most reflector headlights look boring but we were impressed with how this pair looked.

The installation took longer than what we would have considered perfect. But after installation, it works perfectly providing excellent performance.

You can easily adjust the headlights vertically and it stays a perfect fit. This option is cheap and highly recommended if you want to go for reflector headlights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are projector headlights better than reflectors?

Projector headlights are much more efficient than reflectors. This is because they concentrate the light to a single point, where as a reflector spreads the light in all directions. This allows more light to hit the road, and hence increases the visibility. This is one of the reasons why we recommend them. They don't need much maintenance either.

How do I make my reflector headlights brighter?

You can make your headlights brighter with some reflective tape, but it might not be very practical. Your headlights need to be bright enough to see at a distance, and with reflective tape, they may end up being too bright for comfort. So, the best option is to get headlights that already work as intended.

How high should my projector headlights be?

The maximum height of your projector headlights is determined by the distance between your car and the screen where you plan to display it. You should make sure that the projection area can fit within this height, and then position your projector according to this.

How do you rotate projector headlights?

There are many ways you can rotate projector headlights, but the most common method is by changing the headlight orientation. It can either be done by using a universal rotation bracket, or by swapping the projector headlights with others that are already attached to the car.

Final Note

Hopefully, now you have a better idea about both projector and reflector headlights. There are a lot of different options available for both kinds of headlights and each is different from the others.

Therefore, no matter what kind of vehicle you have, you can probably get a projector or reflector headlight for it!

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