It’s the new age of LED lighting and many are taking advantage, but should you use LEDs in projector headlights?
While in some areas it is illegal to modify the projector headlights, for the sake of this post I will explore the possibilities. LEDs have been the number one choice for many homes in the US. Because of this, manufacturers are finding new ways to ways to utilize these energy-efficient options.
Yes, retrofit LEDs can work in projector headlights. But, should you use them in your projector headlights is your biggest concern.
Obviously, you would not ask this question if your high-end car comes with LED projectors straight from the factory. So, this post is suited for people who want to switch their halogen or HID projectors to LEDs.
Giants like Consumer Reports have tested cars with LEDs projectors and found that these new options produce no more lighting than traditional headlights. They also advised that while LEDs are flashy, safety should be your number one priority when choosing headlights.
After a lot of research, I have found that when replacing halogen bulbs for a better light output, HID is your best bet.
Why Headlight Projectors Are Important?
Projector headlights are headlight technology that uses an internal reflector to focus the light into a beam. This technology is often used in high-end luxury vehicles since the 1980s and is the more expensive option.
They are typically more powerful than reflector headlights, which use a simple reflective surface to bounce light in different directions.
The projector headlights feature a magnifying glass that projects the light forward, increasing its brightness. They also have a reflective bowl in the rear end of the headlight, which acts as a reflector.
The cut-off shield on projector headlights is prime quality and cuts off the light at a certain height, preventing it from shining in oncoming drivers’ eyes.
According to Audi engineers, the best color temperature for projector headlights is 5700K. But many drivers say the 4000K is the sweet spot especially in LEDs lights. However, with HID, 5000K is the preferred option.
Understanding The Differences Between Projectors And Reflectors Headlights
When you’re trying to figure out a headlight bulb for better lighting, it’s essential to understand whether you have a projector headlight or a reflector headlight.
It doesn’t matter if you have a projector headlight or if you have a reflector headlight, chances are they’re going to take a similar light bulb.
Most projector headlights would take an H11 single beam halogen light bulb. While many projector headlights use the same type of halogen bulbs, LEDs are different.
There are hundreds of LEDs headlight options with different sizes and light output. With one filament bulb, a projector does both high and low beams because the shutter can open and close to display all the light output, or only half.
However, with a reflector, one reflector can make a single beam. Therefore, if you want a reflector to do both low and high beams, you’ll need a different light bulb.
Most of the time, you will get a higher light output when you convert your halogen projector bulbs to HIDs.
The Light Output Between LEDs, HID, and Halogen
Ericthecarguy did a comparison of the light output between LEDs, HID, and halogen bulbs in his projector housing.
In all his tests, he started at 9ft away from his garage door and measure the output, then he measured 50ft away. With the halogen bulb at 9ft, the bulb had a yellow hue with a light output of 3951 LUX.
At 50ft, the light output was 129 LUX. With HID at 9ft, the light output was 14000 LUX, and at 50ft- 301 LUX. Similarly,with LEDs the light output at 9ft was softer at 2704 LUX and 50ft at 101 LUX. These measurements fit nicely with the statement above: in terms of overall lighting output, HID is the highest.
In a more current comparison between HID and LEDs, the people at BoostedMotorspots did their test. They install both bulbs and saw at close and far-range LEDs had some major blind spots.
While HID produces 360 degrees of lighting with little to no blind spots. Thus, when it comes to light beam patterns, the HID was victorious.
In HID, most drivers dislike their long start-up time. It can take these bulbs anyway from 9 to 15 seconds to reach their full brightness. While most people wait for this to happen, others in a hurry will see this as a tremendous disadvantage.
Further, LEDs run cooler than HID so they place less strain on your vehicle’s electrical system and save gas. They are energy efficient, last longer and it is the modern route to take.
I truly believe in the future, LEDs will be the only choice of lighting for both vehicles and homes.
Problems That Can Occur With Retrofitting LED Projector Headlights
As previously stated, LEDs’ blueish hue can be harsh on the eyes of other drivers. Many have complained of eye pain while driving at night.
There are other safety concerns, such as poor integration between LED and the existing ballast. These bulbs may flicker or burn out prematurely. Imagine if your projector flicker while driving at night. It can put you and other drivers in harm’s way.
Sometimes retrofitting LEDs can be expensive, especially if the LEDs are not compatible with your existing ballast. If this is the case, you’ll have to replace the ballast to an option that can work with the projector lights.
With LEDs retrofit, it isn’t a one size fit in all situations. You’ll need to find a size that can fit your headlights.
Cars That Come With LEDs Projectors Headlights
Many cars come straight out of the factory with LED projector headlights. If you are unsure of this new lighting, the best thing you can do is test them before buying.
Perform these tests at night so you can have a better understanding of the light output and beam pattern, and to ensure it does not blind other drivers.
Regardless of the headlights, buyers should ensure their headlight is aligned correctly and insist that dealerships align them before purchase or lower the cost for alignment somewhere else.
To Sum Up,
LEDs projector headlights are cool and modern but should you switch to them? It is up to you. Now that you understand the pros and cons of this lighting system, it is time to make your decision.
In terms of light output, HID is the winner but, LEDs sound good on paper with their energy-efficient and long-lasting features.
I am a wife and mom with two kids. I am also a writer, avid DIYer, and tech enthusiast. My favorite things are writing, shopping online for gadgets, and gizmos I can’t afford (yet). Being at home with my kids is the best part of my day!