What is CRI?

CRI is a term you find when looking at the specs of LED lighting fixtures or LED light bulbs. CRI stands for color rendering index, and it measures the effect an led light has on the perceived color of objects. The lower the Color Rendering Index rating, the less accurately colors will be reproduced. Simply put, it is a numerical scale (0 to 100) used in lighting to indicate how a light source will make the color of an object appear to human eyes and how well subtle variations in color shades are revealed. The higher the number, the better the color rendering ability.

If the source of the light were the sun, the the index would read as 100 since objects viewed in direct sunlight appear in their absolute true color. CRI is easy to understand: the higher the CRI, the better colors will look. The lower the CRI, the less appealing the colors will look. If an object is placed under a CRI of 100, the colors look exactly like they should: bold, vibrant, striking.

When you purchase an LED fixture or bulb you should look for this specification. Until recently, a CRI of 75 was considered to be good. Now, it is common to see LED bulbs at 83 or higher. The closer to 100 the color rendering index is, the better the colors will appear. Higher CRI LED light bulbs and fixtures typically cost more. Those higher CRI LED light sources are more critical in commercial applications such as retailers where clothing is displayed or food presented. If you’re displaying portraits, art or sports memorabilia, then task lighting with a high CRI would make these look even better; the colors would look more stunning and bold. The high CRI of these LEDs create brighter brights and whiter whites, while colors become more vibrant.

high color rendering index for bathrooms

Choosing the Right CRI

When it comes to residential lighting, you don’t really need lights with a very high CRI, especially in places like the living room or the kitchen. A higher CRI is recommended for bathrooms, vanities and closets since these locations utilize task lighting.

high olor rendering index for displaysPlaces where objects are on display, like art galleries, museums, or jewelry stores, will use bulbs with a very high CRI. In the workplace, higher CRI LED light sources produce an environment which makes people feel more energetic and productive. On the other hand, if you are looking for an LED light bulb to replace the incandescent bulb on your back porch fixture, you can often do with a more economical, lower CRI light bulb. Low CRI bulbs are also used in garages and outdoor lighting.