Reflector vs Projector Headlights: What Is the Difference?

Deciding between reflector vs projector headlights is important when you’re looking for a new headlight for your car. Both headlights come with their advantages and disadvantages, and whichever one you choose depends on your preference and budget.

Reflector vs Projector Headlights

When you want to modify your headlights, you can go for the projector lights, which are known for their visibility, or reflector lights, which are cheap. Learn more about the differences between reflector vs projector lights in our article below.

Features Reflector Headlights Projector Headlights 
Best For Good field of vision High visibility 
Price Cheap Expensive 
Common bulb Halogen HID bulb
Durability  Collects dirt and moisture Lasts longer
Appearance  Dome interior  Fishbowl lens 


What Is the Main Difference Between Reflector vs Projector Headlights?

The main difference between reflector headlights and projector lights is their quality, as the projector lights have a more concentrated beam of light with high visibility, while the reflector has less visibility but balances its field of vision with its light output.

Reflector and projector lights are the two main types that you can purchase. Reflector lights are affordable options that offer a good level of visibility. They are the most popular options and are usually the standard option on a car. Reflector lights are also small and don’t take up a lot of space in the vehicle. You can identify it with its dome design.

On the other hand, projector lights are more expensive and are usually purchased as an aftermarket part rather than being standard with the car. They give a high beam of light for better visibility. The lights are also highly durable as they don’t collect dirt and debris easily. You can spot a projector light with its fishbowl lens in front of the bulb.

Car owners always wonder between reflector vs projector headlights are right for them. The one you choose depends on your preferences and budget. If you’re on a pretty tight budget but still want a good headlight, you can use the reflector. But, if you want the best visibility that a headlight can offer, you should go for the projector type.

– Night Driving Purposes

You should use projector lights with HID and LED bulbs for night driving. These bulbs offer the best coverage in comparison to normal bulbs, and they extend the distance of the vision at night. When the area is dimly lit, or there is no lighting, the projector lights are best.

– Price Range

Projector lights normally cost between $100 and $300, while reflector lights go for $50 to $100. The price of the headlights differs based on the make and model of your car, but the reflector lights are generally less expensive.

Benefits and Functions of Reflector Headlights

Reflector headlights are headlights that work by using a reflective surface to direct light into a beam from the bulb. It is the most common type of headlight because it is cheap to produce and sell. The reflector housing is placed behind the bulb, and there are two types.

Characteristics and Aspects of Reflector Headlights
One type is a convex reflector, which is a type of headlight that produces a wider beam of light. Since it’s wide, the light looks diffused and offers an extensive field of vision. At the same time, it is poor at long-range visibility.

The second type is the concave reflector, which is mostly found on vehicles. It functions by focusing light into a narrow beam so the light output is concentrated and bright. The headlight is good for long-range visibility, but it narrows your field of vision.

Reflector lights are found in more cars than projector lights because they offer a balance between the field of vision and concentrated light output. It is also an affordable option that makes it great for those with a limited budget. Keep in mind that you can’t customize reflector lights to produce specific beam patterns.

– Best Type of Bulb To Use

The best type of bulb for reflector lights is halogen headlights. These are commonly used over other bulbs for the headlight, although there are other options like High-Intensity Discharge (HID) and Light Emitting Diode/LED headlights. The one you choose depends on your preference.

Halogen bulbs are cheaper than other types of bulbs that you can use for reflector lights, and they emit a bright, white light. But they are not as sturdy and durable as the other bulbs. If you don’t want to spend much, you should use halogen lights, but for a longer-lasting bulb, go for HID or LED headlights.

– Pros

The main advantage of using reflector lights is the fact that they are common in the market. Because of this, they are easy to find when you want to replace your headlights. They are also cheap to buy, which is another benefit of purchasing these lights.

Reflector lights are great fog lights because they produce a widely distributed beam of light. The light it gives off is also even. You can benefit from using reflector lights because of their durability, as they will withstand wear and tear.

– Cons

There are also a few downsides to keep in mind when purchasing reflector lights. These lights produce more glare than the projector lights, especially when you purchase the concave reflector light. Secondly, the light is not as intense and focused as the one you get from projector lights.

Reflector lights need to be adjusted regularly for you to achieve optimal visibility. Since they are common, they are not exactly stylish options for your car. Keep in mind that reflector headlights are prone to problems like moisture buildup and condensation.

Benefits and Functions of Projector Headlights

Projector lights are newer types of headlight technology, as they were first used widely in the 1980s on most luxury vehicles. They are associated with luxury cars and are now popular options for different types of vehicles.

Attributes and Properties of Projector Headlights

The projector lights also feature a steel bowl and a bulb that reflects against it like a reflector. But the difference is that it is designed with a lens that magnifies the light, increasing the brightness of the beam. The headlights also come with a cutoff shield that ensures they are angled properly, directing the light towards the road.

Projector lights offer a unique look for your car, which is an advantage of the lights. You can also customize your projector lights to give you different kinds of beam patterns to meet your needs. If you want lights that offer long-range visibility with a narrow beam pattern, projector headlights are a good choice. You can also go for a wide beam pattern with good visibility on dark roads.

The good thing about projector lights is that they offer the visibility you want and also come with the style that you’d want to add to your car. So, if you want headlights with better performance and don’t mind spending more, you should consider the projector lights.

– Best Type of Bulb To Use

The best type of bulb for projector lights is a high-intensity discharge bulb (HID). These are only a few types of bulbs that you can use in projector lights, but HID bulbs produce intense and bright light. They are also expensive to purchase.

If you don’t want to buy headlight bulbs, you should go for light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs instead. These are becoming very popular because they are more affordable and have a long lifespan, so they are great for projector lights.

Finally, you can go for a halogen bulb to install in your projector light. Halogen bulbs are the cheapest options among HID and LED lights, so they don’t last long and don’t produce a lot of light. It would be a waste to use them for projector lights.

– Pros

There are different advantages that come with projector lights, especially since their design makes them better for traditional light designs. They produce an intense and focused beam of light, which improves your visibility when driving.

Projector headlights work without producing glare, so it is easier on your eyes and that of the oncoming traffic. They are also attractive and stylish and are less likely to be affected by a buildup of moisture, dirt and debris.

– Cons

You should also consider the downside of using projector lights, but the main one is that they are highly expensive. These are more expensive than traditional lights, so if you want to purchase them, you need to spend more money. You will also find them in luxury cars.

Another downside of projector lights is the fact that they require more frequent adjustment and cleaning, which is unlike other headlights. But this also means that the lights will be more durable. Some car drivers also say that the intensity of the headlights is too much for oncoming traffic.

In addition, a projector headlight will most likely dim. One of the main problems of projector lights is the fact that they will dim over time. When the lens gets dirty or scratched, you will notice that your lights are getting dim. When this happens, you should clean the lens with a soft cloth or replace them. You should also polish them once in a while.

– Polishing Projector Headlights

You can polish projector lights with compressed air, a soft cloth, or a headlight restoration kit. If the headlights look dull, it is time to clean and polish them.

  1. Use Compressed Air: You can clean your headlights with compressed air, as this would remove any debris or dust that you see on the surface. When using this method, hold the can of compressed air to face up so that the headlight is directed towards it and not away from it.
  2. Polish With a Soft Cloth: You should polish your headlights with a soft cloth regularly. You can purchase some headlight polish and use a soft cloth to apply it. Apply the polish carefully in a circular motion and buff it off. This will give you a shiny headlight.
  3. Use a Headlight Restoration Kit: If you have a headlight restoration kit, you should use it regularly. In the kit, you will see a sanding tool and a polishing tool. Read the instructions label on the kit and follow them to restore your headlights back to their initial, shiny condition.

Are Dashboard Lights Linked to the Type of Headlights Used in a Vehicle?

Dashboard light issues: causes and solutions can vary in vehicles, but they are not directly linked to the type of headlights used. Dashboard lights typically indicate problems with various systems like the engine, brakes, or battery. These issues can range from a loose gas cap to a faulty sensor. Consulting the vehicle’s manual or a certified mechanic can help diagnose and address the specific cause, ensuring a safe driving experience.


With our article, you can see the differences between reflector vs projector headlights and choose the one that works for you.

Here’s a complete summary of our comparative review of these two lights:

  • Reflector headlights are headlights that function with a reflective surface to direct light from the bulb into a beam.
  • Reflector lights work best with a halogen bulb and are known for being affordable, but they are also less durable.
  • Projector lights are headlights that are designed with a reflective surface and a lens for magnifying the light.
  • They work well with HID bulbs and are brighter and more durable, but they are also more expensive compared to reflector headlights.
  • When choosing headlights for night driving, it would be best to use projector lights with HID and LED bulbs to extend your vision of the road.

The next time you’re replacing your headlights, you can easily choose the one that works for you between the reflector and projector types. Consider your budget and the glare of the light that you need before purchasing.

5/5 - (16 votes)
Ran When Parked