What is the difference between Projector Headlights and Euro Headlights?

Projector Headlights

A popular upgrade for factory headlight systems, “Euro” headlights are coveted by car enthusiasts that want a sleeker, more integrated look for their ride. Original equipment headlight assemblies can be pretty plain looking, particularly on older cars. Euro headlights will change the way that the reflectors and lights are organized within a unit, adding different styling to the components themselves. The base of the headlight assemblies will be chrome or black, and lens color may be changed to a smoke color.

Some Euro headlights will use the original style parabolic reflectors with the same bulbs utilized by the originals, but with stylistic differences in the reflectors, like sculpted curves or indents, hatching lines or creases. Some use HID, LED or halogen bulbs in a projector type headlight. Often the headlights will incorporate surrounding rims known as halos. The housing for the light will sometimes use running lights based on LED technology, with reflectors on the side that may differ from the original manufacturer colors.

Aftermarket projector headlamps use a type of fitting that places the bulb in front of an elliptical reflector, rather than the standard parabolic reflector. This type of reflector will focus the headlight beam more narrowly, while the parabolic reflector used on original equipment is designed to spread the beam, to illuminate the shoulders of the road to meet government safety standards. The purpose of the projector design is to produce an illumination pattern which reaches further into the distance, allowing the driver more time to react in the event of an emergency.

When set to low beam, the projector design also makes use of a rectangular protrusion called a shutter. This device intrudes into the beam slightly, to force the path of the beam downwards and towards the vehicle’s passenger side, out of the eyes of approaching drivers.

For vehicles that incorporate a single-headlight system, this protrusion is moved out of the beam using a solenoid motor, which allows the beam to shine at full intensity. For vehicles designed with a dual headlight system, one light functions as a low beam only, and the dimming projection isn’t movable. The other light only operates at full intensity, and isn’t used when the driver has set low beam on the headlights.

The halos sometimes seen around the rims of Euro headlights may light up along with the headlights, or in some cases, used as running lights with the headlights off. Some rings use a prism lens to light the entire halo with a single bulb. Other systems will incorporate reflectors and extra bulbs into the design along with the prism lens, to provide even more light, and can be used as supplemental headlights.

One useful application of this halo technology is for approaching a parking area, or a group of people. The main headlights can be turned off, and the brightly lit halo can function as a headlight in slow-speed maneuvering to avoid blinding bystanders, or blinding the driver with reflections from nearby cars, signs or buildings.

The bulbs used in halos can be of several types, including LED lighting in single or multiple configurations, and cold cathode fluorescent lighting (CCFL), in which the entire halo itself is an excitable gas-filled bulb, similar to the lighting seen in office ceilings. The effect of these lights is a fluorescent glow.

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