Projector vs. Reflector - What's the difference?
When upgrading to HIDs and researching how to go about installing your kit, you'll often come across many debates about projector housings and reflector housings and how they affect an HID upgrade. There are a few dominant opinions about this topic on the internet that are both conflicting and incorrect. Let's dispel the myths, get the facts straight, and help you determine how best to improve your vehicle lighting experience.
Biggest Myth: "Reflector housings are not made for HIDs"
|Traditional Reflector Housing Light Path
||Projector Housing Light Path
The light output of an HID system in a reflector based housing is entirely dependent on the design and manufacture as each housing uses different angles and shapes to achieve optimal light output. This is because the size of the reflector housing typically changes to match the profile of the vehicle. With new vehicles on the road today, reflector housings actually control light with both halogen bulbs as well as HID bulbs extremely well with the inclusion of what's known as an Anti-Glare Cap, that limits light output and cuts down on stray light patterns. See the below photo to see an example of the Anti-Glare Cap, and light output of an HID system in a reflector housing + Anti-Glare Cap.
2011 Hyundai Elantra HID Output using a Halogen Based Reflector Headlamp With Stock Anti-Glare Cap
Simply put, HIDs installed in reflector housings must be judged on a per vehicle basis as the lighting performance varies depending on make, model, and year. In general terms, newer vehicles whether they are economy cars or luxury cars, will accept an HID upgrade much better than, say, a 1990 Honda Civic. Systems with Anti-Glare Caps already installed by the manufacturer do exceptionally well with HID lighting by controlling light output and limiting glare. Projector lens based headlight housings will always perform better than reflector based systems because of their use of the concave lens and elliptical reflector cup.
I hope you all enjoyed this brief overview and as always, if you have additional questions please let us know. Our support staff can always be reached at Help@XenonSupply.com to answer your technical questions.
Phil and XS Team