When searching for a new set of headlamp assemblies for your ride, you may come across any number of terms which require explanation. Like many other accessory categories, headlamps use their own terminology. For your convenience, we provide you with this list, presented in alphabetical order, and with photos to help you identify these features.
Black Headlights (Housing)
"Black headlights" describes a custom headlamp assembly which has a black background, visible through the clear lens. The size and quantity of lighting elements within the assembly determines how much "black" shows. See also "chrome headlights" and "smoke headlights".
"CCFL" stands for "Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lighting". CCFLs are used as a type of lighting on halo lights. CCFLs are known for producing a brighter, whiter light compared to non-CCFL halo lights. See also "halos / angel eyes".
Chrome Headlights (Housing)
"Chrome headlights" describes a custom headlamp assembly which has a chrome background, visible through the clear lens. The size and quantity of lighting elements within the assembly determines how much "chrome" shows. See also "black headlights" and "smoke headlights".
Combined Low / High Beam
A "combined low/high beam" light describes a vehicle which uses ONE bulb per side, with that bulb functioning as both the low beam light AND the high beam light. Such a vehicle will have a total of 2 separate headlight bulbs, one left and one right. See also "separate low/high beam".
Custom Headlamp Assembly
A "custom headlamp assembly" contains design or lighting elements not present in the factory headlamp. The customization could be as simple as color (black background, or smoke tinted lens), or it could refer to advanced lighting elements like halo or LED lights. See also "Factory headlamp assembly".
"DRL" stands for Daytime Running Lights. By definition, DRLs are illuminated whenever the vehicle's engine is running. DRLs are therefore "on" during the daytime, and do not light up the road, but they do increase the visibility of the vehicle. Many custom headlamp assemblies feature lighting elements, such as halos or LED strips, which can be wired to function as DRLs. See also "halos / angel eyes" and "LED lights".
"Euro headlights" describes a custom headlamp assembly in an aerodynamic shape. The term became popular when the U.S. in the mid-1980s finally allowed the use of custom-shaped assemblies instead of fixed-shape sealed beam lamps. The custom-shaped lamps had been used in Europe for years prior to the change in the U.S.
Factory Headlamp Assembly
A "replacement factory headlamp assembly" resembles the vehicle's original headlamp in appearance and fitment. This is the one to choose if replacing a broken unit, and no customization is desired. See also "Custom headlamp assembly".
Halos / Angel Eyes
"Halo lights", also known as "angel eyes" are a circular ring of light surrounding a round lamp assembly. Halo lights may illuminate with the low beam headlights, or they may function as DRLs, lit any time the vehicle is operating. See also "CCFL".
"High beam" headlamps provide a brighter light than low beam, in order to illuminate more of the road ahead. It is designed to be used when no other vehicles or persons who might be disturbed by the light are in front. See also "Low beam".
"LED" stands for "Light Emitting Diode". Compared to conventional lights, LED lights are brighter and longer lasting. In the context of headlamp assemblies, "LED lights" typically are formed into a strip by a row of single LED lights, which serve as DRLs or as a decorative lighting highlight.
A "low beam" headlamp provides forward illumination, limited so as not to be glaring or blinding to vehicles in the lights' path. See also "high beam".
"Plank lights" describes a lighting element within a headlamp assembly with a horizontal element to its surface, so that the light strip resembles a plank of wood.
"Plug-n-play" or "plug and play" describes a custom headlamp assembly which is wired with a plug to exactly match a vehicle's factory plug. Electrical Installation of such an assembly is a matter of plugging the lamp plug into the vehicle's plug, with no wire cutting or splicing. Note that some custom headlamp assemblies (as in the photo RIGHT) may have both a "plug-n-play" element (the blue plug) AND separate wires which will require electrical work.
"Projector headlights" describes a custom headlamp assembly with the bulb positioned in front of an elliptical-shaped reflector. This reflector reflects the light toward a single focal point in front of the bulb, providing a sharper, more focused beam of light.
A "sealed beam" headlamp is a single unit consisting of bulb, lens, and housing. Traditionally made of glass, sealed beam headlights are also of a limited number of fixed shapes, either round or rectangular, each in two sizes only.
Separate Low / High Beam
A "separate low/high beam" light describes a vehicle which uses TWO separate bulbs per side, with one bulb serving as the low beam bulb and the other bulb serving as a high beam bulb. Such a vehicle will have a total of 4 separate headlight bulbs. See also "combined low/high beam".
Smoke Headlights (Lens)
"Smoke headlights" describes a custom headlamp assembly which has a smoke tinted lens over a chrome background. The degree of tinting determines in part how visible the chrome background is. In general, the smoke tinted lens will reduce light output. See also "black headlights" and "chrome headlights".
"U-bar" lights describes a particular kind of LED light accessory within a headlamp assembly. As its name implies, the U-bar light is shaped like a "U". However, its placement within the light assembly may be on its side so that the "U" does not always appear right-side-up.