Today, we are going to dive deep into a topic that is incredibly important when it comes to lighting, yet often overlooked - the Color Rendering Index, or CRI for short. Now, don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it before, or if it sounds a bit technical. I promise to keep things simple and straightforward, so by the end of this post, you’ll be a CRI pro!

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

What is CRI?

CRI stands for Color Rendering Index. It is a scale from 0 to 100 that measures how accurately a light source reveals the true colors of objects compared to natural light. In other words, it tells us how good a light source is at showing an object’s true colors.

Natural sunlight has a CRI of 100, which is the highest possible score. This means that colors appear most true to life under natural sunlight. A light source with a CRI of 90 or above is considered excellent and will make colors look vibrant and true to life. On the other hand, a light source with a low CRI (below 80) may make colors look washed out or unnatural.

Why is CRI important?

The CRI of a light source can have a big impact on how a space looks and feels. Have you ever noticed how some rooms feel warm and inviting, while others feel cold and sterile? Or how some colors look vibrant and rich in one light, but dull and flat in another? That’s all down to the CRI of the light source.

A high CRI is especially important in spaces where color accuracy is crucial, such as art studios, retail stores, or kitchens. For example, in an art studio, a light source with a high CRI will help the artist see the true colors of their paints and pigments. In a retail store, it will make the merchandise look more appealing to customers. And in a kitchen, it will help you accurately identify the colors of your ingredients.

How is CRI measured?

CRI is measured using a special scale that compares the color appearance of objects under a test light source to their appearance under a reference light source (either natural sunlight or a standard incandescent light, depending on the color temperature of the test light).

The scale consists of eight standard color samples with varying hues and saturation levels. The color appearance of each sample is measured under both the test light and the reference light, and the differences are averaged to give a final CRI score.

It’s important to note that the CRI scale is not perfect. It has some limitations, such as not taking into account very saturated colors or the preference of the observer. However, it is still a useful tool for comparing the color rendering abilities of different light sources.

How to choose the right CRI for your space

When choosing a light source for your space, it’s important to consider both the color temperature (measured in Kelvin) and the CRI. As a general rule of thumb, a CRI of 80 or above is suitable for most residential and commercial spaces. However, for spaces where color accuracy is crucial, such as art studios, retail stores, or kitchens, a CRI of 90 or above is recommended. Read about Kelvin HERE.

Remember, the higher the CRI, the better the color rendering ability of the light source, and the more vibrant and true to life colors will appear.

And there you have it, a detailed guide to the Color Rendering Index. I hope you found this post helpful and that it will make choosing the right lights for your space a little bit easier.