Color Rendering Index: Best Lighting Knowledge For You [2023]

When choosing the best lighting system for a specific location, several aspects must be considered. The type of light bulb you use in your house may significantly impact the appearance of a space. This is sometimes ascribed to a metric called the color rendering index.

This rating, often known as CRI, assesses a light source’s ability to show colors of things in comparison to natural light, such as sunlight pouring in through your windows. We’ve put up a quick tutorial describing the CRI and explaining how to choose a lighting system based on its value.

Definition of Color Rendering Index

The Color Rendering Index assesses a light source's ability to render object colors accurately and organically
The Color Rendering Index assesses a light source’s ability to render object colors accurately and organically

It’s worth noting that every light source has its light spectrum. This spectral distribution determines the colors we see in our surroundings.

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

The CRI is measured on 0 to 100, with 100 indicating daylight or “perfect” white light on a black background. The lowest index corresponds to an unclear light source.

What is a Good Color Rendering Index?

Light sources with a CRI of 80 to 90 are considered decent, while those with a CRI of 90+ are considered superb! The basic guideline is that the higher the color rendering ability, the better the CRI.

Color temperature does not affect CRI. These are two distinct concepts. A CRI of 75 may be found in a 5000K (daylight color temperature) fluorescent light source, whereas a CRI of 90 can be found in another 5000K fluorescent light source.

***Refer to more: Best Daylight Lamp for Office: Top 8 Expert’s Choices of 2022

Color rendering technology

Color rendering technology
Color rendering technology

As lighting technology has progressed, so needs to pick the appropriate CRI.

Choosing the CRI for fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lights was simple. There were distinct pricing points and variations in the product as you progressed from a standard to a high CRI.

When it comes to LED lighting, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when choosing the ideal hue and CRI combination.+

Indeed, the widespread use of LED lighting has triggered an industry-wide quest for a criterion other than CRI to assess the visual performance of contemporary lighting technologies properly. In today’s lighting sector, a high-CRI product may not be the silver bullet for you.

With the release of TM-30-15, significant steps have been achieved in that search. TM-30-15, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is a more coherent approach to choosing the right lighting product. It incorporates numerous distinct metrics to examine the difference between effectiveness and color rendering, and it can assist in determining the ideal light for a particular application.

Color pumping, a new technique that amplifies and saturates the color spectrum, has recently evolved. It’s best used in stores with bright, colorful merchandise. Philips describes it as “crisp white,” Xicato describes it as “vivid,” and Solais describes it as “violight.”

CRI can be deceiving in this case since the purpose is to oversaturate and highlight particular hues (primarily blues, blacks, whites, and greens) rather than match a reference source.

Diverse Light Sources

Diverse Light Sources
Diverse Light Sources

#1. CRI Between 0 and 70

It’s important to remember that light sources with a color rendering index of less than 70 change our color perception.

This index category includes the following light sources:

  • Fluorescent tubes, commonly known as industrial white tubes
  • Sodium vapor luminaires with low pressure – Sodium vapor luminaires with high pressure (except white luminaires)
  • Clear luminaires made of mercury

#2. CRI Between 70 and 90

These light sources do a good job of displaying colors. These are some of them:

  • LED standard lights
  • Several fluorescent tubes
  • Various metal halide luminaires
  • Sodium vapor luminaires with high pressure
CRI and correlated color temperature
CRI and correlated color temperature

#3. CRI Between 90 and 100

Colors are more vividly displayed, and the whole gamut of color hues is revealed in light sources with a CRI greater than 90.

  • High fidelity LED bulbs 
  • Several metal halide light fixtures
  • Light bulbs that are incandescent (your primary light bulb and halogens)

***Refer to more: Top 8 Best Floor Lamps For Home Office [Expert Choice 2022]

Color Rendering Index & LED Light Bulbs

LED lights have lately gained in favor, owing to their energy-saving properties and high light output. Most LED lights have a CRI of 80 to 90. As a result, the space is brighter, yet the morning work is more natural and precise. LEDs are more suited to interior situations than fluorescent lighting, which can generate an artificial effect. Aside from the color rendering index, an LED bulb’s overall efficacy is influenced by the number of lumens output or the amount of light it produces.

Considering CRI for Lighting Fixtures

Considering CRI for Lighting Fixtures
Considering CRI for Lighting Fixtures

CRI for lighting is important to consider while selecting light bulbs for your house. You want your décor, paint colors, and furnishings to appear their best, so you want the colors crisp and everything to seem sharp. It can also damage your eyesight when you’re doing things like reading a book, watching TV, or cooking in the kitchen.

When LED lighting became more common in houses, the CRI scale grew more prominent. Many modern light bulb makers include a “lighting facts” section on the box to inform consumers about the bulb’s qualities. The color rendering index scale, lumens, watts, and efficiency measures should all be included in this list. Choose lights with a higher CRI rating to ensure that your home’s color reproduction is as accurate as possible.

A guide to choosing Color Rendering Index

There is no replacement for getting a few examples and placing them in your space to see how things look, just as there is no substitute for collecting a few samples and putting them in your area to see how things seem. You could be astonished by how well a product with an 85 CRI performs and disappointed by a product with a 95 CRI.

On the other hand, you could see the difference between low-CRI HID lighting and mid-range CRI LED lighting and decide to upgrade. If you’re seeking unique retail or gallery lighting, you could be ready to adopt a product that uses the previously described color pumping technology.


Applications of CRI
Applications of CRI

So, how can we choose the CRI of our lighting system? It will differ depending on the applications and requirements in each instance.

  • We can install lighting systems with a CRI of less than 70 on roads since the perfect color distinction is not required.
  • It is always preferable to use a lighting system with a CRI greater than 70 for residential and commercial applications.
  • For applications requiring precise work, such as retail stores and boutiques, a CRI of better than 80 is advised.
  • When a room demands outstanding illumination, such as in art galleries or medical institutions, it is better to utilize luminaires that adequately represent the color spectrum; in these cases, the CRI should be more than 90.

***Refer to more: Best Daylight Lamp for Office: Top 8 Expert’s Choices of 2022


There are several factors to consider while selecting lighting for your house. Of course, energy efficiency and the number of hours each bulb will last are essential considerations. Using the CRI scale to guarantee that your surroundings are brighter, more precise, and packed with excellent color is also a good idea. LED lighting is unquestionably a wise investment, and LED bulbs are now more inexpensive than ever before. Additionally, a growing number of lighting manufacturers are transitioning to LED-style lights, which means you’ll benefit from a higher color rendering index chart rating.