CRI 80 vs 90: What is Differences and Which one to Choose?

Because color rendering is not as evident as color temperature, it is a challenging part of lighting to master. So, how can you know whether the difference between 80 CRI and 90 CRI is significant?

The final answer is that it depends on your application and how light-sensitive you or the other people in the environment are. We’ll go through some essential criteria and applications for when a given level of CRI is appropriate, as well as the variations between CRI 80 vs 90.

What is CRI?

On a scale of 0 to 100, CRI is calculated. The greater the CRI, the higher the score. A CRI of 80 is considered respectable, but you should strive for a higher score. Opt for LED bulbs with a CRI of 90 or greater wherever possible, as these lamps have excellent color fidelity. Regardless, the sufficient CRI level is mainly determined by how you use the light source and your sensitivity.

***Read more: Color Rendering Index: Best Lighting Knowledge For You [2022]

What the CRI Values Represent

What the CRI Values Represent
What the CRI Values Represent

The most often used metric for gauging color rendering is the CRI, a score with a maximum value of 100. While assigning CRI ratings a % or letter grade is tempting, the numbers are based on color difference values and are somewhat arbitrary. As a result, we advise you to avoid saying something like “80 CRI means the light source is 80 percent accurate,” as this is not how CRI is determined.

CRI is calculated by comparing the colors that would be reflected from a reference light source, such as natural daylight, to the colors reflected from a swatch of eight standardized colors called test color samples (TCS). In other terms, it asks, “How different do these eight color swatches appear on average when compared to a natural light source?”

The color discrepancies are then counted, and the average difference is subtracted from 100 to get the final CRI result. As a result, the difference between the CRI value and 100 is known as the “difference score.” The average color difference in 95 CRI is 5, while the average color difference in 80 CRI is 20.

What is the significance of this? For starters, it can provide a different perspective on CRI ratings and their relative levels of color fidelity by comparing them to 100. A 95 CRI light source has a difference of 5.0, a 90 CRI light source has a difference of 2x its magnitude, and an 80 CRI light source has a difference of 4x its importance.

***Refer to more: Top 7 Best Full Spectrum Lamps for Perfect and Healthy Light

CRI 80 vs 90: Differences and Applications

CRI 80 vs 90 Differences and Applications
CRI 80 vs 90 Differences and Applications

#1. 80 CRI: Acceptable Color Quality

The CRI level of 80 is often used as a benchmark for LED and fluorescent bulbs. It’s a perfectly acceptable degree of color fidelity, with the most noticeable hues standing out and appearing adequate for everyday chores. Most manufacturers have settled on 80 CRI as the standard or primary light quality offering, and most lamps offered at your local hardware store will have an 80 CRI number.

Nuanced hues, especially those with a deep red component, may appear unnatural when using light sources with an 80 CRI rating. You might be shocked to learn that the red part will affect many hues that don’t seem to be “red” at first glance. Skin tones and wood furniture or flooring are two examples. If you enjoy hosting dinner parties, for example, your visitors may leave with a subconsciously negative perception of the visual and aesthetic qualities of the food or atmosphere.

80 CRI is best for places where you and your family spend the least amount of time in a residential setting. 80 CRI may be sufficient in hallways, storage closets, and garages, to name a few examples. However, suppose you have a walk-in closet or a garage where you spend a lot of time working on your projects. In that case, you’ll probably want to utilize a light source with a higher CRI because color differentiation can be difficult.

On the other side, we would advise avoiding using 80 CRI light sources in kitchens and bathrooms, including under-cabinet lighting. The ability to judge color (is the meat properly cooked?) is crucial in food preparation. When doing makeup, having good lighting in the bathroom is vital.

We believe that 80 CRI is a good color rendering level for specific applications whose key objectives are efficiency and cost. Still, in general, we think that 80 CRI is an adequate degree of color fidelity for the least demanding of circumstances.

***Read more: Top 9 Best LED Lights For Kitchen Ceiling: Top Choices in 2022

Difference between CRI 80 vs 90
Difference between CRI 80 vs 90

#2. 90 CRI: Good Color Quality

As a “luxury” product offering, many manufacturers will provide 90 CRI items. The difference in CRI between 80 and 90 is pretty evident, and it will give you a substantial boost in color clarity right away. 90 CRI is a suitable choice for most home setups, especially in places where you anticipate spending the most time, such as bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms.

Most goods, such as fresh food, meats, wood furniture, and skin tones, will appear normal to you, and you will not encounter anything off-putting or unusual.

Most people will find that 90 CRI is enough for their purposes in a household installation, and those who aren’t as picky about looks won’t notice much of a difference after that.


Use 90 CRI for residential applications as much as feasible, especially in areas where you spend a lot of time. LED bulbs with a CRI of 90 produce a balanced light that makes objects appear normal. Those who demand highly accurate color perception, such as visual artists, may benefit from CRI 95. While CRI 80 is adequate for most chores, it is not ideal for your home.

We usually sell CRI 90 LED bulbs at Liquidleds. So, if you’re seeking LED bulbs that produce high-quality, well-balanced light, you’ve come to the right place. Many of our bulbs are used in high-end commercial and residential applications (such as restaurants, retail shops, theatres, and 5-star hotels).