Projector Headlamps - Feature Explained

Thinking of ditching the dim glow of regular headlights for a sharper, safer night vision experience? Projector headlamps might be your answer! But are they worth the hype, and how much do they cost in India? Buckle up as we dive deep into the world of projector headlamps, exploring their pros and cons, technical know-how, repair & replacement costs, and even unveil popular car models offering them. Let's help you decide if these dazzling illuminators deserve a spot on your car or if you're better off sticking to the classics.

Projector Headlamps

Projector Headlamps: Pros And Cons For Indian Drivers

The pros, or advantages, of projector headlamps in a car, are:

  • Projector headlamps help concentrate the light on the road, thus offering better illumination
  • When running on low beams, projector headlamps are less likely to blind other drivers as they have a focused beam
  • The lens of a projector headlamp looks great on a car even during the day when they’re turned off

Projector headlamps have the following disadvantages or issues:

  • The glass lens of a projector headlamp adds a significant weight to the car
  • The repair cost for a projector headlamp is higher in case of a crash or electrical breakdown
  • A badly-adjusted projector headlamp, especially an aftermarket one will blind oncoming traffic a lot more than a poorly-adjusted reflector headlamp
  • With a projector headlamp, it’s not as easy to simply upgrade to a higher wattage bulb

Understanding Projector Headlamp Technology 

Projector headlamps, a feature once reserved for luxury cars, have now trickled down to mass-market cars you and I can afford. To explain what a projector headlamp is, let’s first ditch jargon like HID, bi-Xenon and LED. Now, let’s imagine headlamps as flashlights – projector headlamps have a lens to focus the light beam whereas reflector headlamps just scatter it. The benefit? More light goes where you need it – straight ahead onto the road, illuminating potholes and stray cows long before they're in your grill.

This focused beam not only helps you see further, but also reduces glare for oncoming drivers. Think of it as courtesy lighting for both sides of the road. No more squinting or flashing! Plus, the sharper cutoff eliminates that annoying light spill onto roadside shops and houses.

So, who needs this? Well, anyone who spends time on Indian roads, especially at night. Whether you're navigating city traffic or tackling open highways, projector headlights can be a game-changer. They help you spot hazards sooner, drive with confidence, and even be a considerate road citizen.

Of course, there are various aspects to consider. Projector headlights might cost a bit more than old-school reflectors. But think of it as an investment in safety and comfort, both for yourself and others. After all, clear vision on the road is priceless, especially in a country where the unexpected is always around the corner.

Projector Headlamps

How Do Projector Headlamps Work?

Like conventional reflector headlights, projector headlamps use a mirror-like reflective steel bowl that intensifies the amount of light emitted by the bulb. However, unlike reflector headlamps, projector headlamps use a convex lens, also known as a condenser lens, to capture most of the light and focus it down the road. Thus, their beams are more concentrated and powerful for better illumination. Compared to a reflector headlamp, a projector headlamp is a lot more efficient at utilising the emitted light to illuminate the road.

Projector headlights are now available in several mass-market cars. They use either halogen, HID or LED light sources to illuminate the road. Unlike reflector headlamps, projector headlamps are much better suited for high-intensity discharge (HID) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs as their design allows them to illuminate more of the road surface at a farther distance.

Projector Headlamps Replacement Costs: OEM Vs Aftermarket?

The cost of repairing or replacing a projector headlamp depends on the kind of repair it requires. Typically, the bulbs used in a headlamp have a lifetime of around 1,000 hours under normal working conditions. Once the bulb stops working, it needs to be replaced. A replacement halogen bulb will set you back by anywhere between Rs. 100 to Rs. 2,000 depending on the wattage and brand. Popular brands that manufacture halogen bulbs include Philips, Osram and Bosch.

In the event of an accident or complete projector headlamp assembly failure, replacing the headlamp cluster can cost you Rs. 20,000 - 25,000 for an entry level car like Swift ZXI Plus, which uses LED projector headlamps. In comparison, a reflector headlamp cluster will cost between Rs. 4,000 and 6,000 for Swift ZXI or lower variants. For more expensive cars, you can expect to pay a lot more.

What Is The Cost Of An Aftermarket Projector Headlamp?

An entire aftermarket projector headlamp kit for mass-market cars such as the Wagon R, Swift and Skoda Rapid can cost anywhere from Rs. 24,000 to Rs. 40,000. This includes 2 projector headlamps, HID bulbs and LED DRLs with integrated turn signals. However, we do not recommend aftermarket projector headlamps as their quality is far inferior to OEM-spec projector headlamps. An inferior projector headlamp setup could not only result in improper illumination but also blind other drivers, thereby resulting in head-on collisions due to poor visibility. If you want this feature in your car, then we suggest buying a car with this feature up front. The next best option is to get the projector headlamp assembly for a higher variant of your car in case your variant doesn’t get this feature. However, you may run into issues with incompatible couplers in the wiring assembly.

How Easy Or Complex Is It To Install A Projector Headlamps?

If you intend to install projector headlamps, there are several aftermarket options available. However, as stated earlier, we do not recommend these units as they can do more harm than good. Even if you intend to install OEM-spec projector headlamps, we recommend you get them fixed by a qualified technician or at an authorised service centre since these units need to be aligned perfectly to offer the best illumination. Besides, improper installation could result in a blown fuse, or worse, fire due to improper wiring.

What Cars Get Projector Headlamps?

In India, most cars from the B1-segment (Maruti Nexa Ignis, Tata Tiago, Hyundai Grand i10 Nios) and above get projector headlamps, at least in their higher variants.

Verdict - Should I Get Aftermarket Projector Headlamps?

As mentioned above, we do not recommend installing aftermarket projector headlamps. However, if you absolutely need more illumination, make sure your model comes with a projector headlamp in its top variant. This way, you could buy an OEM-spec projector headlamp and upgrade it over the course of your ownership period. However, buying an OEM-spec projector headlamp isn’t cheap. In more ways than one, it makes better sense to buy a higher variant that offers this feature than buying an OEM-spec part later. 

Let’s take a look at the Maruti Suzuki Swift as an example. If you intend to buy the projector headlamps that are offered in the Swift ZXI Plus variant, you are looking at spending around Rs. 45,000 for a pair of projector headlamp units. Now, let’s look at the price difference between the Swift ZXI, which offers reflector-type headlamps, and the Swift ZXI Plus, which offers projector headlamps:





ZXI Plus


Rs 7,50,000

Rs 71,000

Rs 8,21,000


Rs 50,000


Rs 50,000


Rs 8,00,000

Rs 71,000

Rs 8,71,000

In this instance, you are looking at a premium of Rs. 71,000. Subtracting the cost of the projector headlamps you intend to fix after you buy the car, you are looking at a premium of Rs. 36,000. For this additional premium, you get plenty more useful features, such as a rear parking camera, stylish machined alloy wheels and a coloured MID. In our opinion, the additional features  far outweigh the extra cost and the hassle of reliability concerns and warranty risks of an aftermarket OEM-spec projector headlamp setup.

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Nikil Jonathan

Nikil's a huge fan of classic cars, especially Italian beauties such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint and the Iso Grifo. His love for cars and bikes originated when he first laid his eyes on a poster of the Ferrari F40 and the MV Agusta F4 when he was just a child. He also loves all things analogue, especially vintage cameras and turntables.


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