How does a projector headlight work?

How does a projector headlight work With increasing popularity among motorists and automakers, many wonder how projector headlights function. 

They are a relatively new design when compared to their reflector counterparts. Although reflector headlights were present in automobiles for decades, the widespread use of headlights with projectors initially appeared in high-end vehicles in the 1980s. 

Nowadays, the drivers of all automobiles, including trucks and SUVs, are opting to upgrade. Customers are not uncommonly concerned, primarily when they repair their vehicles themselves. 

Many people want to know how to change the projector headlights and how to direct the headlights of a projector—also, the type of lightbulb that is the best for the job.

At RECON, We’re committed to helping our readers, and customers get the most out of their aftermarket truck components and accessories. The decision to change to headlights for your truck or upgrade an old one is essential. 

Your headlights are the thing that everyone is first seeing when they look at your vehicle. They’re also among the most crucial safety components in your vehicle. 

You need to ensure that you’ve chosen the proper setup for your vehicle and that your headlights are installed securely and efficiently. We’re here to help answer the question, “how do headlights with projectors work?” and more.

What are Projector Headlights?

The projector headlights are the latest version of headlights, which is believed in many eyes to be better than traditional reflector lights. The headlights of projectors are brighter and more precise than older headlights and give drivers the capability to see better and extend their vision further at night, even in bad conditions.

The headlight setup has a downward-facing angle in the direction of the road instead of directly in front of the vehicle. Many people prefer this setup since it’s less likely to cause blindness for drivers or create an unwelcome reflection back to your eye.

Furthermore, it gives drivers a chance to choose the highest quality headlight bulbs, like XENON HID bulbs or LED bulbs which are longer-lasting and require less energy from their vehicle’s battery source. They are typically too powerful to be used in traditional reflector headlights, which require halogen lamps that can burn out more often.

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How do Projector Headlights Function?

Projector headlights function like traditional reflectors but with one major differentiator. The headlight bulb is housed in a steel bowl that contains mirrors, similar to what reflector headlights do. However, in addition to this bowl made of steel and mirrors, which increase light brightness, the projector headlights have lenses inside. The lens increases the magnification and makes the light beam sharper and more transparent.

As a result, headlights radiate farther away, provide better peripheral vision, and are more effective in rainy weather. In addition, they release more light since the lens inside the bowl of the headlights works to intensify the beam.

How to aim the headlights of a projector?

Another vital distinction regarding projection headlights is that they focus downwards, towards the ground, instead of straight in the direction. It means they can emit more light without the danger of blinding motorists. However, because the light they release is powerful, it is essential to know how to position a projector’s headlights and adjust the projector’s headlights if required.

In the beginning, when learning to position your headlights for projectors, start with one headlight at a. Then, you can point your truck towards an unfinished wall or the garage door, as this is a “template” to determine the size and angle of the headlights when you switch them on. The surface should be level, and you should not park on the sloped floor or driveway. You must place your vehicle 25 feet to the side of your house or garage door.

The next step is to use a measuring tape to determine the distance between the light’s central point and ground and how far between one’s center and the middle of another. Record the measurements.

Then, walk to the garage or wall door, and using an eraser or a piece of painter’s adhesive, place the mark that is in line with every measurement. There should be at least two “plus signposts” on the wall or on the door to mark the location of each headlight. Make sure you measure again and mark an area at least two inches beneath every plus sign.

If you turn your light on, it’s aligned correctly, it should coincide against the plus lines on the wall vertically, and the mark should be two inches below it vertically. Repeat the procedure with the second headlight.

How to Adjust the Headlights of a Projector?

If you perform this, check your headlights for projectors and discover that they need to be appropriately aligned. It is imperative to correct each headlight as quickly as you are able. Headlights on projectors that need to be correctly aimed can risk blinding drivers and posing a risk on the roadway.

When learning how to adjust headlights on projectors, use only one headlight at a time. Follow these steps to learn how to direct your projector headlights and switch off your low beam. First, you’ll need to lift your vehicle’s hood, then find the adjustment spot on the back side of the light. There are adjuster screws on the rear of the headlight. Use the correct tool to rotate the screws until your headlights are aligned with the lines you have drawn, as mentioned above.

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Projector Headlights are different from. Reflector Headlights

Many automakers still produce cars with reflector headlights, and many drivers wonder whether it’s worth changes to reflectors. When choosing which headlights are the best fit for your vehicle, It is essential to think about the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The advantage of using headlights with projectors is that you’ll get more focused light, which is more effective at night and during inclement weather conditions. But, some dislike the style or look.

If you are considering reflector headlights, one of the design’s advantages is their simple style, and they are more affordable. However, you may need to be more capable of seeing with reflector lights as well. In addition, the light could appear darker or duller than the projector headlights installed.

Most truck enthusiasts agree that headlights with projectors are the ideal choice and offer a variety of advantages not only for the driver but for everyone else on the road too.

Can you use LED Bulbs in the Projector Headlights?

Another frequent question we get is about the type of lightbulb to choose to use in headlights for projectors. A lot of drivers opt for XENON HID bulbs. However, there are LED headlight bulbs too. Using LED bulbs has advantages. They tend to last longer than HID and halogen bulbs, yet they are identical to HIDs in brightness. It means that you will only need to replace bulbs sometimes. However, you can maintain the lighting quality.

LED Bulbs compare to. HID Bulbs

When you realize that you can utilize LED bulbs for projector headlights, it is possible to wonder whether they’re the best alternative or opt for the HID bulb. This is a frequent issue for drivers.

LED lightbulbs are generally better suited for projector headlights than HID bulbs. They are more durable than HID bulbs that require between 10 and 20 seconds before they reach full illumination; LED bulbs can be lit with full power in a matter of minutes.

It is nevertheless important to remember that if you use LED bulbs for your headlights or projectors, you might have to install heat sinks to the rear of the bulb close to an engine compartment. It may not be feasible in the majority of MAKE or MODEL trucks. If that’s the scenario, HID bulbs are the best alternative.


What are Projector Headlights, and Where Did They Get Their Start?

In 1911, the first projector beam lighting system was developed over three decades after introducing gas headlamps made of acetylene. However, 1969 was the first time we saw the system in a road car manufactured by Chrysler. 

Headlights with projectors became more popular during the early 1980s and were extensively used in luxurious automobiles. Since then, they are now effective for all types of automobiles. Alongside headlights with projectors, the second most commonly used type is reflector headlights. 

Reflectors make use of halogen bulbs to reflect light on the road. Projectors differ in numerous ways. First, we’ll describe the three types of projectors on the market today.

Halogen Projectors

It’s the same kind of bulb employed in a reflector headlight housing. However, in the case of a projector, a halogen bulb can provide more light than it does in the case of a reflector. Due to this increase in lighting output, halogen projectors are the most prevalent type of headlights on automobiles manufactured during the late 2000s.

HID Projectors

HID bulbs are regarded as an upgrade over halogen lamps due to their longer life and more light output. It is a commonplace to observe HID projectors being used in luxurious or contemporary cars. It is worth noting that we don’t recommend installing HIDs inside a reflector made of halogen. Instead, HIDs should be placed inside a bi-xenon HID or projector. Since HIDs are brighter than other projectors, fitting them in an incorrect headlight assembly may result in enormous amounts of glare for drivers coming towards them.

LED Projectors

In addition to HID projectors, the LED projector is the 2nd most popular projector. LED projectors are only present on high-end or more advanced automobiles. LEDs are a trendy choice due to their incredible brightness, which lasts for a long time and is also more efficient in energy usage than conventional bulbs. LED projectors do not need bulbs; instead, the LED chip is installed into the projector that emits light to be directed onto the street.

The fishbowl-like thing in the image above is the projector. It is a Projector with LEDs made by Morimoto. As we’ve already mentioned, LED projectors do not need a different bulb. But, the method by which light is refracted is the same. Projectors have a light source, a bulb, or an LED chip. In the projector are mirrors that act as reflectors. 

The most significant component of the projection device is its lens, which functions as a magnifying lens, increasing the brightness and intensity of the light it emits. Since projectors can produce such bright light, each has an oblique shield placed behind the lens, which helps guide light toward the road. In addition, thanks to the shield, projectors come with a sharp cut-off line.

With this clear as well as clear cut-off lines, you will be able to enjoy incredibly bright headlights without obscuring other drivers ahead of you. The components inside the projector are designed to direct the light into a uniformly distributed and well-organized beam pattern. However, how do they collaborate to produce the beam pattern?

Bulbs or LEDsEvery projector requires lighting sources. As discussed in the previous paragraphs, it could be an HID, halogen, or LED.

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It is not to be mistaken for a reflector headlight. The projector is equipped with an element of reflector inside. Usually, it is an elliptical reflector, unlike the parabolic-shaped one found on reflectors’ headlights. The reflectors’ shapes will influence how light is directed through the projector. Reflectors with elliptical shapes focus light towards one narrow area close to the front of the reflector at the point where it meets the edge of the cut-off shield.

Cut-off Shield/Shutter

The cut-off shield could be described as a shutter. The shield cuts off part of the beam pattern that blocks the glare from the traffic coming in. The shield is the main reason behind the projector’s long cut-off line. The shutter can be moved between low and high beam modes in specific projectors. The shutter will activate in a low beam to give a clear cut-off. However, it will decrease in the high beam, allowing all the light to be projected.


It is designed so that it can disperse light over the beam pattern. The beam is already designed and directed by the reflector. The function of the optic is to ensure that the light is evenly spread all over.

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