Skip to content
Why do Dapper Lighting headlights use projectors?

Why do Dapper Lighting headlights use projectors?

Curious why Dapper Lighting headlights use projectors? We'll quickly explain what projectors are and why Dapper Lighting chose to use the technology.

Let’s start with what a projector headlight is: A projector headlight is a type of headlight that uses a lens and a projector to create a focused, controlled beam of light. It is a more advanced and sophisticated headlight system than a traditional reflector headlight.

The projector headlight consists of a light source (usually a bulb), a reflector, a lens, and a cutoff shield (typically on the low beams). The bulb is located in the center of the reflector, which is designed to reflect the light outward. The lens is placed in front of the reflector, and the projector is located inside the lens.

The projector works by focusing the light from the bulb onto the lens using a reflective bowl, which then projects the light forward onto the road ahead. The cutoff shield is positioned inside the projector and helps to create a sharp, precise cutoff line to prevent glare for oncoming drivers as seen in the example below of 30 Watt Low Beams:

575 30 Watt Low Beam Output

The advantage of projector headlights is that they produce a more focused and precise beam of light compared to traditional reflector headlights. This provides better visibility for the driver, especially in areas with poor lighting conditions. Additionally, the cutoff shield helps to reduce glare for oncoming drivers, making the roads safer for everyone.

Now for a quick history lesson; the first projector headlights were developed in the early 1980s by the French car manufacturer, Citroën. The company introduced the headlights on their luxury CX model, which featured a futuristic design and advanced technology for its time.

Citroën's projector headlights consisted of a bulb located in the center of a parabolic reflector, which reflected the light onto a lens. The lens then projected the light forward onto the road, creating a more focused and precise beam of light compared to traditional reflector headlights.

The projector headlight was a success, and the design became popular among high-end luxury car manufacturers in the 1990s, with companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi incorporating them into their models.

Prior to projector headlights, almost all headlights were using “reflector” designs, the most popular of which was the “Sealed Beam” headlight which was a standardized design among all road cars. Reflector and projector headlights are two of the most popular different types of lighting systems used in modern automobiles. The main difference between them is in the way they distribute light.

Reflector headlights have been used in cars for a long time and are still found in many entry-level models. They consist of a bulb placed in a reflective housing, which then reflects the light outwards. The light is not focused, so it typically scatters in all directions. This means that reflector headlights can be less efficient at illuminating the road ahead, and can also cause glare for oncoming drivers, particularly when using a brighter bulb with different optics than the original design, as the reflector housing is designed very specifically for the OEM bulb design and brightness.

Overall, the main difference between reflector and projector headlights is that reflectors use a reflective surface to scatter light, while projectors use a lens to focus and direct the light. Projector headlights are generally considered to be superior in terms of visibility and safety, but they can also be more expensive to manufacture and replace. However, as technology advances, projector technology has become a more attractive option among people looking to upgrade their lighting system.

So again, why does Dapper Lighting almost exclusively use projector headlights?

Projector headlights are considered better than reflector headlights for several reasons:

Brighter and more focused light: As mentioned earlier, projector headlights use a lens to focus the light from the bulb onto the road ahead, resulting in a brighter and more focused beam of light. This means that the driver can see more of the road ahead, especially in areas where there are no streetlights.

Reduced glare: Projector headlights have a cutoff shield that helps to prevent glare for oncoming drivers and creates a sharp cutoff at the top of the beam pattern. This is especially important when driving on a two-lane road, as it can prevent accidents caused by blinding oncoming drivers.

More precise beam pattern: Projector headlights produce a more precise beam pattern, which can help to improve visibility in bad weather conditions such as rain, fog, or snow. This is because the beam is directed exactly where it is needed, reducing the scattering of light that can occur with reflector headlights.

Stylish design: Projector headlights have a more modern and stylish design than reflector headlights, which can enhance the overall appearance of the car. They can also be customized in different ways, accentuated with LED halos, or “demon eyes”. 

Overall, projector headlights are considered superior to reflector headlights because they provide better visibility, reduce glare, produce a more precise beam pattern, and allow for custom designs not possible with reflector lights.

What about putting an LED bulb in a H4 Housing? There are some cheap and bright options out there. But, it can be a bad idea to put LED bulbs in reflector headlights for several reasons. A brighter bulb in a reflector design not meant for LEDs tends to exacerbate all of the issues mentioned above.

Dapper Lighting offers a halogen bulb, is that brighter than a sealed beam light? The short answer is yes, but let’s dig a little further.

A sealed beam light and a halogen bulb are both types of headlights, but there are several differences between them. Here are some of the main differences:

Design: A sealed beam light is a complete headlight assembly that includes a bulb, reflector, and lens, all sealed together. In contrast, a halogen bulb is a replaceable bulb that can be installed in a headlight assembly that includes a separate reflector (a projector in Dapper Lighting’s case) and lens.

Light Output: Sealed beam lights and halogen bulbs produce different types of light. Sealed beam lights typically produce a yellowish light that is less bright and less focused than the light produced by halogen bulbs. Halogen bulbs produce a whiter, brighter light that is more focused and provides better visibility.

Energy Efficiency: Halogen bulbs are more energy-efficient than sealed beam lights. They use less power to produce the same amount of light, which means they can help improve your vehicle's fuel efficiency.

Lifespan: There are many factors that affect the lifespan of both Halogen and sealed beam bulbs. This can depend on brightness, color temperature, and materials. Sealed Beams have been quoted to last anywhere from 50-200 hours depending on the manufacturer and model, and halogens quoted to last 150-270 hours. 

Cost: Sealed beam lights are generally slightly less expensive than halogen bulbs depending on brand and model. However, if you have a headlight assembly that uses halogen bulbs, replacing the bulbs is typically less expensive than replacing the entire sealed beam headlight assembly.

In summary, sealed beam lights are a complete headlight assembly that produce a yellowish light and have a longer lifespan, but are less energy-efficient and generally less bright than halogen bulbs. Halogen bulbs produce a whiter, brighter light, and are more energy-efficient.

Another very important aspect to consider, is that Dapper Lighting is combining the extra brightness of the Halogen bulbs with the benefits of projector technology. Not only do you get the improvements in bulb technology over the Sealed Beams, you will have a more effective and efficient beam pattern. You can see this in the example below of the 575 Halogen Low Beams:

What about the 17 watt bulbs versus the 30 watt bulbs? Dapper Lighting offers different levels of LED bulbs so that customers can choose the bulbs that fit their needs and budget. Here are the specifications of the three tiers of bulbs Dapper Lighting offers on the 575 headlight.


Amp Draw

Lumens (per bulb)

Warranty (years)

Color (Kelvin)

Halogen (55W)




3400K (yellowish- white)

17 Watt LED




5000K (bright white)

30 Watt LED




5000K (bright white)

And for output comparison, you can see the projector light produces a focus and evenly tapered beam pattern with a nice bright focal point in the center. This is a perfect example of the benefits of using projector lighting technology, even with the lower brightness Halogen bulbs.

Halogen bulbs are an excellent option for those who do not use their lights as often, or the budget-conscious customer who still wants all the perks and style of projector headlights. For those who want the efficiency and reliability of LED bulbs, but may not need the brightest option, the 17 watt LEDs are an excellent choice.

And lastly, the 30 watt LEDs are the brightest option Dapper Lighting offers, and also the most popular. The technology of using projectors allows you to take full advantage of the brightness with a beautiful beam pattern, a nice focal point, and a clean cutoff in the low beams which prevents blinding oncoming traffic.

Dapper Lighting also allows you to mix and match your bulb choices. Typically the ideal choice is to go as bright as possible in the Low Beam lights, as those are used the most and will stay on when the high beam lights come on. For those customers who rarely use high beams, you can keep the same color and look as the 30 watt LEDs with 17 watt LEDs in the high beams, or run the halogen bulbs. Customers who want the brightest option, again, will run 30 watt LEDs in all 4 headlights. You can see the examples of the different bulbs in the comparison below.

575 Headlight Output Comparison

In summary, Dapper Lighting has chosen projector technology because of the numerous benefits mentioned. Automotive lighting has advanced to the point where the technology from a  high-end luxury headlight is now completely feasible as a complete plug and play aftermarket upgrade. Dapper Lighting is leading the way, and backs up their technology with a 5 year warranty.

Previous article History of Headlamps