Projector Lens vs. Non-Projector Lens – HID or LED – Which to use?

Projector Lens vs. Non-Projector Lens – What to use

Over the past few years as the humans of Race Sport Lighting travel North America visiting dealers or attending shows and events, the most frequently asked question posed to us is “Can I use an LED headlight in my projector housing?” In this article we will discuss recommending the proper headlight technology based on the lens style.

What Type of Housing Does the Vehicle Have?

When a dealer is looking for a headlight upgrade for his customer’s vehicle the first question that should be answered is: What type of housing does the vehicle have?

Meaning is it a projector or a non-projector housing? This information is essential for you to recommend the correct forward-facing technology for their setup. Every dealer wants their customer to experience the upgraded visibility and safety on the road they want without premature failures that will bring them back to the store for unnecessary warranty replacements.

Projector Lens – Use HID Headlight Technology

Advantages to HID in Projectors

When the customer has projector lenses, we will always recommend the use of HID technology, period! Here are the core advantages of installing HIDs in projector headlights:

  • Projector lenses were designed to maximize HID technology
  • Projectors, being confined space by nature trap heat. The life expectancy of HID bulbs is not affected negatively by this environment because the projector was designed to perform with the HID’s operating temperature.
  • The light from the HID is emitted in 360 degrees. Projectors are engineered to collect, focus and maximize the distance of the projected HID beam.

Disadvantages to LED in Projectors

The same advantages of using HID technology in projectors, become the disadvantages when using LED technology in projectors.

  • Projectors were not designed for LED technology.
  • Projectors, being a confined space by nature trap heat. The life expectancy of LED headlight diodes is lowered in this environment. The diodes need room to breathe and work within their ideal operating temperature range. You can expect premature failure of any LED kits that are installed in projectors.
  • LEDs by nature do not produce a perfect 360-degree illumination. Thus, as the projector collects and focuses the available light, anomalies appear in the beam, diminishing the maximum achievable distance of projection.

So, if your customer calls looking for a headlight kit and the vehicle has a projector, recommend the GEN6 every time. If you insist on using an LED headlight kit here’s what we recommend.

Non-projector Lens – Use LED or HID Headlight Technology

Additional Considerations

Now, for non-projector housing you can in theory use the GEN6 (HID) or the Terminator (LED) Here are some additional considerations to narrow the conversation to the customer’s preference so you can make the best recommendation:

  • LED performs like a spotlight. HIDs perform more like a floodlight. What kind of LUX utilization will better suit their preference?
  • Is this upgrade for the high beam, low beam or fog light on the vehicle? The “Instant on” nature of LED technology lends itself to high beam and fog light applications.
  • Are they looking for the pure white of LED or are they looking for a hint of color? If so  , this is achieved through a HID kit with the desired kelvin color.

These are the questions that can help dial in your recommendation.

When to Add a Decoder

In closing, let’s discuss when to recommend a decoder for a terminator led install. They are not applicable for GEN6 HID installs since a similar technology is built into the ballast. Most import, Mopar and late model vehicles have a computer monitoring system to indicate when a bulb is out or not functioning properly. This is monitored by verifying the load present on the headlight circuit. Decoders assist the LED kit to interface with and satisfy these monitoring systems. We recommend every that dealer installing LED kits stock decoders, so they are available if needed on the install.

How Do I Look Up a Bulb Size?

How do you look up a bulb size, so you get the right kit? This is an easy one or at least we’ve made it easy for you. Simply go to and utilize the vehicle fitment guide. Enter the year, make and model of the vehicle. Select the light bulb you are replacing, such as a headlight and boom, we will show you the bulb size and recommend a sku for you as well.

How to Use the Bulb Cross Reference

Bulb cross reference

Now if you happen to be given a bulb size by a customer that seems to not line up, make sure we are not using a cross referenced size. You can check out the bulb size cross reference tool on the nation blog. Here we list common identifies for each bulb size that though the base is the same, the manufacture has named them something different than the universal size identifier.

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