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History of Headlamps

There are many different types of headlights. We have chosen a few of the most popular and written a small introduction on each housing. It's important to remember there is no perfect headlight and that you should pick a headlight that best suits you. If you have any questions or want to learn more about headlights not listed here, please give us a call or shoot us an email at: (415) 493-8236 or

Sealed Beam:

Almost all vehicles prior to 1985 were mandated to use sealed beam headlamps. These lamps were dual filament bulbs that had a reflector and lens hermetically sealed together. If you needed to change a headlight, you had to replace the entire housing with another sealed beam headlamp. Countless classic cars still utilize this primitive lighting setup that provides the lowest standard of light output and quality compared to many of the modern lighting choices. Dapper Lighting has built itself around providing plug-and-play projector headlamp systems using all the same mounting points and dimensions as sealed beams.

Cost: $ 15-40

Performance: 2/10




H4 Conversions:

H4 conversions are the most common and cost effective way to upgrade your headlight system. An H4 conversion is simply a standard reflective-type housing (similar to a sealed beam) that utilizes a replaceable H4 dual filament type bulb. The main benefit to the H4 conversion over a sealed beam is the removability of the H4 dual filament bulb. This saves you the hassle of having to disconnect and pull your entire headlight assembly out of your car if one goes bad. This also opens up the ability to put high-output HID’s and LED lighting on your car, however H4 conversions are ‘reflective-style’, which means there is no concentration point (like that found in a hi/lo projector headlamp). With H4 conversions, it is very common to experience hot-spotting, scattered output, and upset oncoming traffic.

Cost: $50-200
Performance: 5/10


Developed for the automotive market decades ago, engineers were able to create a headlamp that projected a strong and focused light. While projector lamps can give vehicles a sleek and modern look, their performance compared to sealed beam and reflective H4 lamps are bar none. Projector lamps allow manufacturers to use high power bulbs such as high intensity discharge (HID) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs without blinding oncoming traffic because of their focusing properties. Projector headlamps have been the standard for many high-end luxury cars for the past couple decades and continue to be used on new vehicles, even on economy models!

Projector headlights utilize a concave glass lens which surrounds the bulb in order to focus light into a more precise and attractive focal beam ahead of you. H4 conversions and sealed beam headlights alike both use reflective properties to push light forward, and because of this they emit hot spots, light scatter, and other blinding properties you often hear people complaining about. Projector headlamps eliminate these issues and generally come with a self-contained low-beam and high-beam shutter built into them. This shutter gives you a clean and crisp low-beam cutoff line PERFECT for use with HID and LED bulbs (halogen works fine also, but is the least powerful of your options) without causing any visual impairments on other drivers on the road.

A huge common misconception with projectors is that they are the cause of all those blinding bright blue and purple lights that temporarily visually impair you. In fact, it’s the bulbs themselves that create these colors, not the projectors. A projector headlamp is simply a medium in which to put your light source (bulb) into to concentrate and focus the beam pattern. With a built-in hi/low beam cutoff, you should experience virtually zero visual impairments from a set of projector headlamps.


Cost: $200-400
Performance: 9/10
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