24 May 2016

What is Colour Rendering?

When you’re shopping for lamps, what are some of things you look for?

  • The number of watts the lamp consumes?
  • The initial lumen output?
  • Most certainly the life hours, right?

Well it’s time to add another one to the list: CRI

So what is CRI?

For starters, CRI stands for color rendering index, and it measures the effect a bulb has on the perceived color of objects. Simply put, CRI measures how well a bulb replicates the sun, which has a perfect CRI of 100. Underneath a CRI of 100, colors look exactly like they should: bold, vibrant, striking.

The great thing about CRI is that it’s easy to understand: the higher the CRI, the better colors will look. The lower the CRI, the worse colors will look. A bulb with a CRI of 80 or above is good, and a bulb with a CRI of 90 and above is very good. A CRI below 80 isn’t that all that great, and will make colors look yellow, washed out, and can even change the hue of objects. For example, the lights you see in motorway light fittings have a very low CRI, which is a very yellow light which leads to a bad CRI. Subsequently making colors tougher to differentiate.

When it comes to residential lighting, you don’t really need lamps with a very high CRI, especially in places like the living room or the kitchen (bathrooms, toilets and vanity areas are different since lamps with a CRI are highly recommended in these areas) since these places mainly just utilize task lighting. For example, if you use BR40 lamps in your recessed down lights in your living room or kitchen, these bulbs typically have CRI of around 80, with some bulbs peaking at 85.

However, if you’re displaying family portraits, photos, art, or sports memorabilia, then lamps with a high CRI would make these look even better; the colors would look more stunning and bold. The high CRI creates brighter brights and whiter whites, while colors become more vibrant. Places where objects are on display, like art galleries, museums, or jewelry stores, will use lamps with a very high CRI for this reason.

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