Reflector vs Projector Headlights: Which is Best?

Until recently, all vehicles contained the same style of headlight housing. Today, there are two types of headlights a) projector and b) reflector. Reflector headlights are the old style found on cars made in the early 2000's or before. Projector headlights are newer, but not every new car has projector headlights.

In this article, we'll examine the differences between these two types of headlights and discuss which is better.

Reflector headlights:

In older reflector headlights, the shape of the light beam was determined by the lens in the front of the headlight. With this type, known as a sealed-beam headlight, the casing cannot be removed to replace a burned out bulb.

Reflector headlights have featured as standard on vehicles since the invention of electric headlights. Mirrors are place within the bowl to reflect light out onto the road. A reflector headlight consists of a bulb encased in a steel bowl. 

In the 1980's, improvements in technology lead to reflector headlights that used mirrors inside the headlight housing itself to guide the beams. This meant it was no longer necessary for the lens and the headlight housing to be sealed and bulbs could be easily removed or replaced.

Many new vehicles continue to be made with reflector headlights. There are a few advantages to this style that make them popular even today:

  • They're smaller. Projector headlights are deeper, taking up more space within the vehicle.
  • They're cheaper to make. Manufacturers often use reflector headlights simply because they're less expensive.

  • Projector headlights:

Projector headlights are a newer invention in the world of headlight technology. They were first used on a large scale in the 1980's in some luxury vehicles. Since then, projector headlights have become popular on all types of vehicles.

Projector headlights are similar to reflector headlights. They contain a bulb in a steel bowl with mirrors to act as reflectors. However, a projector headlight also has a lens that acts as a magnifying glass, increasing the brightness of the light beam.

To ensure that the light produced by these types of headlights is angled properly, there is also a cutoff shield. This helps to direct the light down towards the road. Thanks to the shield, projector headlights have a very sharp cutoff.

Projector headlights are growing in popularity, and for good reasons. They have many advantages:

  • They're brighter. Projector headlights are significantly brighter than reflector headlights.
  • They're less likely to blind other drivers. Because projector headlights are directed downwards towards the road, they don't shine in other drivers' eyes.
  • Projector headlights give off a more even light. Reflector headlights can have darker spots.
  • Xenon HID bulbs can only be used with projector headlights. HID bulbs are too bright when used in reflector headlights, where the light they emit can blind other drivers.

Which is best?

When searching for the best headlights, most drivers want the brightest headlights possible without creating problems for other drivers. Projector headlights are brighter than reflector headlights, and they are less likely to blind oncoming traffic.

It's also worth mentioning that projector headlights allow drivers to use xenon HID bulbs instead of the older halogen bulbs. Considering all of this, it's clear that projector headlights are better than reflector headlights.

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