ILS: Lenses versus Reflectors

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James Prietzel, Product Manager at Intelligent LED Solutions (ILS)

James is the ILS Product Manager for everything related to LEDs and has been with ILS since 2012. He is dedicated to understanding the latest technologies and innovations from leading suppliers in the OptoElectronics world, from optics, to LEDs and to Intelligent LED Drivers.

LED optics are a terrific way to direct, diffuse or intensify light. They are readily available in a wide array of sizes, shapes, and materials. This variety of choice means that lenses are versatile and useful in many different applications.


Lenses can be used on single LED or multiple LED modules, as well as visible or non-visible light (infra-red and ultraviolet). They are typically made from polycarbonate (PC) or polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). The end application will ultimately determine the suitability of the material. For example, in UV applications, a silicone lens would be required, as this material will not be affected by the UV wavelengths.

Lenses works by refracting the light passing through. A convex lens will target light to one focal point, creating a narrower beam. Whilst a concave lens will project light into a wide angle, increasing coverage.

The benefits…

Lenses are a fantastic way to enable precise control over light output and produce a desired lighting effect. They can create different beam angles to suit many applications and tend to excel as a solution for indoor settings where visual excellence and precision are required. Lenses can collimate light into a concentrated narrow beam, ideal for spot or accent lighting. Thus, lenses are beneficial to increase light control, direction, and intensity.

In doing so, they also reduce unwanted glare and create a more refined and seamless light effect. Which also has its benefits as by reducing light wastage through illuminating unrequired areas, energy efficiency is improved.

Using a lens will also give the lighting fixture a more pleasing appearance, as the raw LED and PCB can be effectively concealed.


As with LED lenses, reflectors sit over an LED to alter the beam of light. They are also available in a variety of sizes and materials. Most commonly reflectors are made from plastic and metal coated to increase the reflective capabilities. The surface reflecting light can be multifaceted or smooth to create various lighting effects. The angle of light dispersal will also be determined by the reflector shape. For example, to create a narrower beam, typically a larger optic is needed. Therefore, reflectors are best suited to applications where light needs dispersing across a wide area, rather than applications needing a direct focused beam.

The benefits…

Reflectors are a popular solution for general lighting application where precision is not a key concern. They are a cost-effective and easy to implement. They are implemented in most incandescent lights, but they also can be beneficial in LED lighting applications too. Their effectiveness in directing light evenly paired with their cost-effectiveness, make reflectors an ideal solution for many general lighting applications, particularly where budgets are a consideration.

We strongly recommend LEDiL secondary optics for the best solutions. ILS (Intelligent LED Solutions) is a franchised distributor of LEDiL products, and design complementary LED modules to work seamlessly with the LEDiL optics range. A wide selection of LEDiL products is currently available through RS Components.

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