Lenses VS Reflectors – Making the right choice

LED chips serve as one-dimensional light sources with a wide 180° light dispersion angle. However, this broad dispersion is often insufficient for practical applications due to its lack of intensity when directing light between a light fixture and a surface within an interior space.

To harness the light emitted by an LED effectively, a secondary component is required, such as a reflector or lens.

What is a Reflector?

A reflector represents a traditional approach to controlling the direction of light beams. It's essentially an open-cone component encasing an LED chip to modify the path of its widest light beams. Reflectors can be constructed from materials like plastic, metal, or glass, typically featuring a solid inner coating. The internal surface may be either smooth or multifaceted, depending on the desired lighting outcome. Importantly, reflectors don't absorb light; they efficiently bounce any incident light.

However, the design of a reflector does allow central light rays produced by the LED chip to pass through unaltered (see Figure 1). Consequently, even with a narrow reflector, some light rays may deviate from the intended direction over extended distances.

What is a Lens?

A lens offers a more advanced method for controlling light beams. It's a solid, plastic structure that operates on the principle of refraction. This component covers the entire LED chip, capturing and managing all emitted light rays.

A lens manages light in two stages:

Firstly, a concave feature at the lens's centre, situated directly above the LED chip, bends the central light rays outward, making them available for capture in the second stage.

Secondly, the outer part of the lens gathers the widest light rays, including those bent outward in the first stage, and redirects them inward to achieve the desired beam angle (see Figure 2).

Therefore, lenses are highly effective at controlling light, even over longer distances.

Key Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages - Good efficiency and relatively low cost
Disadvantages - Lower control accuracy, especially in narrow beam angles


Advantages - High precision and reduced glare
Disadvantages - Slight reduction in efficiency

Making the Right Choice

Both lenses and reflectors have their roles in the realm of lighting. Nevertheless, due to their effectiveness, glare reduction, and design adaptability, lenses are poised to dominate the lighting landscape in the years ahead.

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