Wednesday, October 4, 2023
HomeFeatured ArticlesLED Lights/Bulbs, Projector Vs Reflector Headlights

LED Lights/Bulbs, Projector Vs Reflector Headlights

Headlights can be defined as machines that help see the road at night or in the dark. Earlier, these headlights had a rudimentary mechanism, but they have witnessed a lot of advancements with time. Now, these headlights have a lot going for them, from different categories to different working mechanisms. So, today we’ll focus on the two major configurations, reflector and projector type headlights and which of the two support LED bulbs better. Because it’s the era of LEDs, and the market is loaded with aftermarket LED bulbs.

Projector Vs Reflector
Projector Vs Reflector

Answering the question is easy unless we don’t know the working. First, let’s dive into that, shall we!

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Both reflective and projector share the same basic principle to spread light on the road. But these two types differ in the way (or the apparatus) they disperse light.

Reflector Headlights

Reflector type headlight / Image for representation only

The simplest type of headlights is the reflector type. This is where the headlight assembly consists of a bulb situated at the focal point of the reflector. Now, as the bulb is turned on, the light from the source spreads all over the shiny surface of the headlight. Now, because of reflection, the light beam is directed towards the road.

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Projector Headlights

Projector headlight / Image for representation only

Similar to the reflector type headlight, projector headlights also have a reflective inner surface. The difference lies in what’s after this surface; yup, it’s a projector setup or, in scientific terms, a lens. The bulb emits light; it is spread all over the reflective surface. But instead of beaming the road haywire, the projector does its job. This lens precisely disperses the light on the road for better visibility.

To know the detailed working, refer.
The Bright Side: Projector vs Reflector Headlight

Now, if the working is clear, still wondering which bulb to choose for your headlight?

Headlight bulbs in Cars

GoMechanic | Headlight
Projector Headlamps

Let’s dive a little deeper. The markets are loaded with a plethora of aftermarket headlight bulbs for you to install in your vehicle. Apart from the category of bulbs (H4, H7, H8 etc.) and headlights, the type of bulb also matters.

  • Nowadays, depending upon the variant, cars come equipped with projector headlights. But it isn’t necessary that a car also gets a led bulb, it can also be the conventional halogen bulb. (eg, Tata Nexon)
  • Next, there also are cars that get reflective type headlights and still get led bulbs. (eg, Honda City and Hyundai Verna)
  • Then there are cars that get a projector set up and also get Led lights. (eg, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza)
  • So, this clears that majority of the car’s headlight choices revolve around the configuration wherein they get, a reflective type headlight or projector headlight and Led light/bulb or a halogen bulb.

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So, you might be wondering, is it possible to switch between them with aftermarket products? In a word, Yes! But it has a lot more than meets the eye.

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Should you upgrade the headlight bulb to LEDs?

Halogen Headlight Bulb
Halogen Headlight Bulb

Irrespective of what the carmakers offer, one can go for an upgrade from the products in the aftermarket. Now, hands-down, LED headlight bulbs are among the best in the market over the conventional halogen bulbs. But should you upgrade?

Generic LED headlight Bulb
Generic LED headlight Bulb

When considering the properties of a LED bulb, it’s pretty evident people will be tempted to upgrade. But there also are some downsides to it.

LEDs in Projector Headlights

Automatic Projector Headlamps
Projector Headlights

If your vehicle has a projector light setup, it is highly recommended that you upgrade to a LEDs

  • Why? Halogen bulbs are not bright enough.
  • Also, they don’t use the full potential of the lens. Hence they are not efficient when compared to LEDs.
  • Installing LEDs on a projector will make the headlight more effective.
  • Because the LED bulbs possess the diode at specific places, the entire internal surface of the projector will focus the majority of the light onto the projector.
  • This will result in a better and brighter beam of light, in turn aiding your visibility at night.

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LEDs in Reflective Headlights

Headlights | GoMechanic
Reflective Headlights

Now, if your vehicle possesses a reflector type headlight, it’s better you go with the flow and stick with halogen bulbs.

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  • The majority of the aftermarket bulbs have the diode on two or a maximum of 3 sides.
  • Meaning the light is not spread evenly. This is something that is a big downer when installed in a reflective type headlight.
  • For a reflective type headlight to be effective, the light source should emit light evenly.
  • But if you are talking about the high beam in the halogen, sure, the bulb is designed to spread the beam in a particular direction.
  • Also, the reflective area of headlight housing is specific to a halogen bulb.
  • Even if you do happen to install the LED bulbs to reflective headlights, firstly, you’d be blinding the oncoming traffic (even in the low beam).
  • Next, the light will not be focused but scattered all over, hampering your vision at night. Which is hell a lot dangerous.

Also, Read The Increasing Popularity Of LED Lights On Indian Cars!

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Utkarsh Bhardwaj
Utkarsh Bhardwaj
Technical Content Strategist at GoMechanic | Big Time Petrolhead with the passion for building cars and driving those beauties.


  1. Hi I have Altroz xmplus.whether I should upgrade to led or a better halogen one like Phillips racing Vision as stock headlights are not that good

    • Hey Anrunabh,
      Given that the Tata Altroz XM+ does not come with a projector setup, we suggest you ditch LED and choose a good quality and branded Halogen Bulb from Osram. This Might as well install OEM fog lamps on your Altroz.

  2. Hi, I have a Ford ECOSPORT 2014 (Titanium AT). The headlights come with the car is extremely poor in road lighting. Can I upgrade them with the normal halogen with more power (100/90 instead of 55/60) or should I explore LED? Pls let me know. Thank you.

    • That seems like a serious issue! Download the all-new GoMechanic App and book a car inspection to resolve your car issues including poor headlight throw and other headlight services.


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