What Color Rendering Index is Right for You? (CRI)



What Is Color Rendering Index?

It’s worth noting that every light source has its own light spectrum. When we look at our surroundings, we see colors that are based on this spectral distribution. 

The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a metric that assesses a light source’s ability to render object colors realistically and organically. To put it another way, when compared to a perfect reference light of a comparable type, it must accurately render all frequencies of its color spectrum. The optimum reference light is daylight, as it is the most natural and precise light source for displaying colors.

How is Color Rendering Index Measured?

CRI is a color rendering index that ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest color rendering capabilities. CRI is determined by comparing the color appearance of eight CIE standard color samples that have been illuminated by the light source in question and then examined again with a reference illuminant of the same Correlated Color Temperature (CCT). 

color rendering index differences

CRI 100 CRI 90     CRI 80 CRI 70

Image source: News & Insights

Bulb types towards the higher end of the scale will create a more accurate color rendition of the items around it in general. This is very important for things like photography and museum lighting. However, it might have an impact on you and your property. So, choose bulbs that will make your surroundings clear, bright, and as close to how they would appear in a natural setting as possible.

Which Bulbs Have the Highest CRI?

While traditional incandescent bulbs provide the highest CRI and eliminate color discrimination, they are also the least efficient light source available. Because LED bulbs could not initially deliver high CRIs, many consumers were concerned about the other benefits of LEDs, understanding that they were not designed to display colors accurately. However, a tremendous deal of time and effort has gone into studying ways to improve the color rendering qualities of LED bulbs, and there is now a wide range of LEDs with good and excellent color rendering on the market.

What is the Best CRI for You?

A CRI of 90 or higher is considered high, whereas anything between 80 and 80 is regarded mid-range to low. Consider something from 90 if color quality is crucial. 

Otherwise, you might wish to prioritize other parameters such as light output or wattage, with CRI as a backup option. 

It’s also worth noting that improving light quality necessitates the addition of more phosphors. As a result, switching to LEDs with superior light qualities usually means sacrificing energy efficiency. Although, in the majority of cases, the sacrifice is worthwhile considering its benefits. 

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