Buying Guide

Projector Vs Reflector Headlights

Projector Vs Reflector Headlights

There are two main automotive headlight housings available in the market. Reflector headlights have been in use since the dawn of car manufacturing and have evolved over time for better visibility and road safety. On the other hand, projector headlamp is a much modern product and uses a lens as a projector to direct light in a strict beam pattern.  Both the solutions come with their own individual tradeoffs and can be installed with any type of light bulb including HID and LED bulbs in addition to halogens.


Reflector Headlight


How do reflector headlights work?


Reflector headlights have a light source in the center which illuminates the housing of the headlight that is made up of a cluster of small reflectors, each reflecting light at a specific point onto the road, making a proper beam pattern in front.



  • Reflector headlights have a simple design and hence are cheaper to manufacture. As a result, they are an easy choice for automakers in budget-friendly vehicles and trims.
  • Reflector headlights are shallow and don’t protrude much into the engine bay. Hence can be easily installed in most vehicles.
  • Reflector headlights if installed correctly are compatible with all three types of light bulbs that include halogens, HIDs, and LEDs.



  • Reflector headlights do not have a very dense beam pattern and tend to distribute the light to a broader area.
  • Reflector headlights cannot be adjusted due to their fixed design.
  • Reflector headlights are more prone to produce a glare if the bulb’s adjustment is not accurate.

Projector Headlight


How do projector headlights work?


Projector headlights use a deep elliptical reflector to reflect all the light on a projector lens, which then focuses a sharp beam onto the road ahead. They are further divided into single and dual-beam projector headlights based on the number of beams they can provide of a single light source. Dual-beam projector headlights come with a shutter to produce a sharp cutoff line in the beam pattern. These projector headlights also produce a high beam with the same light source by lowering the shutter using a solenoid. Whereas single beam projector headlights can only project a single beam of light off a single projector.



  • Projector headlights produce a very dense beam pattern that lights up the road ahead to a further distance.
  • Higher intensity light bulbs such as LEDs and HIDs perform better as the sharp cutoff line produced by shutter significantly reduces the chances of glare on oncoming drivers even if the bulb is not seated accurately.
  • Projector design aesthetically provides a modern look to the front end of the car.


  • Projector housings are typically deeper and protrude much further inside the engine bay, so you require more clearance to fit one on your vehicle.
  • Projector headlights are much expensive than the traditional reflector headlights due to the added cost of additional components.

Can LED bulbs be fitted in Reflector Headlights?


Yes, LED bulbs can be fitted in reflector-based headlights and increase the light output by 2 to 3 times when compared with the stock halogen light bulb. LED bulbs also provide a cooler, whiter color tone to the headlight which looks better than the yellowish light produced by halogens.  

The beam pattern produced by using LED lights in reflector housing should be no different than the beam pattern from the stock halogen lights. It depends on the quality of your LED bulbs. A close dimensional resemblance to the halogen bulb is required to produce the same beam pattern. Accurate placement of the new bulb is also critical in headlight bulb installation. Even a slight angular offset can cause the beam pattern to spread all over the place and can result in glare for oncoming drivers.

Hence retrofitting a brighter lighting solution such as LEDs or HIDs in a reflector headlight shall be done with precision. High quality bulbs should always be used that have tighter dimensional tolerances and copy the size of the original halogen bulb accurately.Novsight led bulbs are 1:1 design with original halogen bulb.For the LED bulbs type, you can use Novsight Bulbs Finder to find out the exact bulbs type.


Can LED bulbs be fitted in Projector Headlights?


Yes, LED bulbs are an easy upgrade on projector headlights if your car comes with halogens installed inside the headlight. Projector headlights can easily handle higher brightness light bulbs such as LEDs and HIDs without any chances of glare due to a shutter present behind the lens. The shutter produces a sharp cutoff line in projector headlamps and makes it impossible for the light to dazzle onto the oncoming traffic. It focuses all the light into a dense beam pattern that illuminates the road far ahead.

The size of the LED bulb assembly should be checked out before purchasing it to make sure there is enough clearance for the heatsink and fan assembly that comes with most of the newer LED lights behind the projector headlight.


Which one of the two is better?


None of the two headlight housings are better for all of the drivers and vehicle owners out there. Each solution comes with its own tradeoff. For some drivers, the reflector housing might still seem like the better option due to its low cost, simple design, and functionality. Whereas projector housing might seem like the better option to others for its superior beam pattern and looks. So, it all comes down to you, the better option is the one that suits most of your requirements.



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