For a long time, all vehicles contained similar style of headlight housing. However today, there are two types of headlights commonly used– projector and reflector. Reflector headlights are the old style ones found on cars made in the 90s or before. Though Projector headlights are relatively newer, but not every new car comes equipped with projector headlights.
Let us understand the differences between these two types of headlights and discuss which one is better.
Reflector headlights comes as standard on vehicles since the invention of electric headlights. To simply put, a reflector headlight consists of a bulb encased in a steel bowl. Mirrors are place within the bowl to reflect light out onto the road.
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 burnt-out bulb.
In the 1980s, improvements in technology led to reflector headlights that used mirrors inside the headlight housing to guide the beams itself. 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 are cheaper to make. Manufacturers often use reflector headlights simply because they’re less expensive.
- They are smaller. Projector headlights are deeper, taking up more space within the vehicle.
Projector headlights are a newer invention in the world of headlight technology. They were first used on a large scale in the 1980s 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 are brighter. Projector headlights are significantly brighter than reflector headlights.
- They are 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.
- Because of the distinct cutoff, projectors can handle a brighter headlight bulb, namely high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. A brighter headlight bulb provides a better night driving experience.
- Lastly, they look awesome.
There are different types of Projector headlights available which you will find installed in vehicles these days. All projector headlights are based on the same basic design, but they can use several different types of bulbs.
- Halogen projector headlights: The first projector headlights used halogen bulbs, just like reflector headlights. These headlights typically project a more even beam of light than reflectors, with a sharper cutoff between light and dark, even though they use the older halogen bulb technology.
- HID projector headlights: The second type of projector headlights to arrive used HID bulbs, and they are still available today. These are also known as Xenon HID headlights. They’re much brighter than traditional halogen bulbs, and they also last longer. In most cases, it’s a bad idea to put HID bulbs into projector housings designed for halogen, because they’re so much brighter.
- LED projector headlights: These are a more recent innovation. They’re very energy efficient, and they last far longer than either halogen or HID headlights. If they’re never damaged in any way, LED projector headlights can even outlive the operational lifespan of the vehicle they’re installed in.
- Halo or Angel Eye projector headlights: This refers to the distinctive ring, or halo, of light that you see in some projector headlights. Even though manufacturers sometimes refer to these as halo or angel eye projector headlights, the ring itself does not use projector technology. These rings are created with about a half dozen different technologies like cold cathode fluorescent lighting (CCFL) tubes, LEDs, and even incandescent bulbs.
The major advantage of projector headlamps over conventional halogen ones is the fact that in reflector headlights, the light output is less controlled and the low beam cutoff for oncoming traffic is less distinct. Because the light output is a less controlled, high output light sources are not generally used with this design. Most reflector headlights use a halogen bulb which puts out less light than an HID. The light often has intense and weak spots in the beam.
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The projector headlight is far superior, for low beams especially. The even beam, the ability for it to handle an HID bulb, and its appearance, all contribute to making the projector headlight superior to the reflector headlight.
Let us now see which local assembled cars in Pakistan come equipped with Projector headlamps and which have regular Reflector headlamps installed.
Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8L
Toyota Fortuner Sigma4 2.8L
Toyota Fortuner V 2.7L
Toyota Hilux Revo V 2.8L
Honda BR-V (all variants)
Honda Civic (all variants)
Changan M9 Pickup
Toyota Corolla 1.3L
Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6L
Toyota Yaris & Yaris Ativ 1.3L
Toyota Yaris AtivX 1.5L
Toyota Fortuner G 2.7L
Toyota Hilux Revo G 2.8L
Toyota Hilux E 2.8L
Toyota Hilux Single Cab variants
Honda City 1.3L
Honda City 1.5L
Honda City Aspire 1.5L
Suzuki Alto 660cc
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com