Skip to content

Call now! (512) 688-8869 - Free Lighting Layouts

Previous article
Now Reading:
What is Color Rendering Index (CRI)?
Next article

What is Color Rendering Index (CRI)?

Wondering what color rendering index (CRI) is? You’re not alone! 

This guide provides valuable insights into the importance of CRI, its impact on human productivity, and how to choose high CRI lighting for optimal visual experiences.

What Is Color Rendering Index? 

Color rendering index (CRI) is a tool that measures how accurately light sources show the true colors of objects. Because it contains the complete visible spectrum to the human eye, sunlight is typically used as the CRI light source.

The color rendering index affects how we perceive the colors. For example, a blue shirt will likely look different under direct winter sunlight than under a warm, fluorescent bulb.

primary paint color bottles in sunlight
Say that you’re a painter. Mixing perfect reds, yellows, and blues is crucial to your art! If you’re using a high-CRI light, those colors would appear similar to those under natural sunlight. If mixed under low-CRI light, the results would be vastly different!

How Is CRI Measured?

CRI is measured on a scale from 0 to 100. Low CRI means that color has been reproduced poorly. High CRI numbers means better color rendering accuracy.

What’s a Perfect Color Rendering?

If an object receives a CRI of 100, that’s “perfect color rendering.” All of the object’s colors will be perceptible, appearing exactly as it would under unfiltered sunlight.

A fruit bowl showing nice colors under 83 cri next to a fruit bowl showing washed out colors at 65 cri

Why Does CRI Matter?

Color accuracy is incredibly important for countless industries and sectors, specifically those that focus on visuals and aesthetics. 

1. Creates More Accurate Colors

person sitting crosslegged reviewing branding colors

From retail spaces to art galleries to marketing agencies, accurate CRI ensures that colors appear true to life.

Low CRI lighting distorts colors, creates inaccurate visuals, and negatively impacts color matching. It can also make products look distorted, washed out, and low-quality! This will dramatically affect the end product.

2. Affects Mood and Productivity

modern office space ergonomic chairs led tube lighting

The right LED lighting affects mood, increasing productivity and focus. In fact, natural sunlight (or light sources that mimic it) is the best to consider for classrooms and offices alike.

3. Creates a More Beautiful Space

If you’re decorating a room, high-CRI lights will make furniture, walls, and decor far more accurate and aesthetic. With poor lighting, those colors are going to shift throughout the day. This can easily throw the entire design off!

Why Are LED Lights Better for CRI?

Several factors can affect CRI, especially the type of light source you use. Incandescent light sources typically have a high CRI, but they’re up to 90% less energy efficient than LEDs. While fluorescent lighting tends to be more energy efficient than incandescent, they typically provide CRIs between 65-85.

LEDs generally offer the greatest control over energy efficiency and lifespan. Due to advancements in technology, LEDs also tend to outperform in terms of color accuracy.

Choosing LED Lighting with High CRI

If color matching doesn’t affect your industry (e.g. warehouses), CRI won’t necessarily be the most important element to consider. In incredibly visual industries, color accuracy is paramount. I recommend choosing LED lights of 90+, and you’ll be able to find these specific values on their packaging.

color rendering chart

That said, a CRI under 80 doesn’t mean it’s a poor-quality light. Maybe you just want to prioritize energy efficiency, light output, location, and color temperature.

Consult Lighting Experts to Find the Right CRI

If you’re in an industry that relies heavily on color rendering index LEDs, I recommend consulting with lighting experts. No matter the room layout or industry, these professionals can provide insights and lighting for even the most specific requirements. To get started, reach out to the Lumen Right team – or check out our range of US-made LED lighting solutions!



Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping

Select options