Recommeded CRI index levels for various lighting projects

Recommeded CRI index levels for various lighting projects (residential, commercial, business, medical)

The Color Rendering Index or CRI, for short, is a one number quantification of how good (or bad) is an artificial light source at reproducing colors, compared with reference standard illuminant modeled after daylight. The highest value possible is 100, equal with that of daylight and incandescent lamps/halogen lamps.  Other lamps, such as fluorescent or gas discharge lamps can have  CRI between 17 and 96, with even a negative value for sodium low pressure (the yellow type used in street lamps).

CRI was introduced by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) in 1974, because of the wide variation in the ability to reproduce colors with the white light emitted by the many types of the gas-lamps mentioned above.

Today, with over 40 years of use, the CRI index is firmly rooted in the lighting industry and among professionals. However, it has failed to gain much traction among the general public due to the fact that, soon after its introduction, it became not really relevant when making a purchase decision for lighting.

The reason was that most lamps were built for specific applications that required a minim CRI value so one could not go wrong with the choice of lamp.

For example, for office or all other linear lighting almost everybody used the tri-phospor linear fluorescent tubes, on the market since the 70s, all with CRI over 80. For the home you the choice was between incandescent and halogen both with CRI100, for retail and other high intensity spot lighting the metal halide lamps with CRI min 85. Street light was reserved for high intensity and very efficient sodium lamps that although had poor CRI very few cared about it.


From 2000s onward, LED technology changed this. It is the first lighting source that can be used for every application and have the full range of performance and quality level, including the ability to accurately reproduce colors. Therefore, it is imperative you choose the LEDs with the correct CRI level for your application.

CRI comparison

CRI98 comparison


The pictures above shows how colors can look different based on the CRI of the light source that illuminates them. A vibrant red under sunlight or a high CRI light can look dull or even orange under a low CRI light.

As a general rule one should stay away from light source with CRI less than 80, unless this light is used for orientation purpose only, outdoors from streetlights, or inside on corridors or stairwells. 

When possible, you should choose lights with higher CRI than 80, as recommended in the table below: 

Application Minimum CRI value Recommended CRI Value
Bedroom 80 90
Living room 80 90
Bathroom 80 95
Kitchen 80 95
Office, general work 80 80
Office, work with colors 90 97
Design studio 80 97
Electronics store 80 90
Fashion 90 97
Hardware store 80 90
Interior design store 90 98
Jewelry 80 90
Dental Clinic 90 97
General Practice 90 97
Café 80 95
Hotel 80 95
Restaurant 80 95
Street light 70 80
Transit/parking lot 70 80
Storage room 70 80
Warehouse 70 90
Photography 90 97

 In our offer you can find LED fixtures and lamps with CRI of at least 80, while our very popular  LED strips and modules are available with the highest CRI today possible, up to 98+, with technologies such as Nichia Optisolis and Seoul Semiconductor SunLike.

Professional Lumiflex Nichia LED Strips CRI80

Professional Matrix MiniMatrix LED Nichia CRI85

Professional Strips LED Nichia CRI85

Flexible Professional Strip LumiFlex700 LED SunLike TRI-R CRI97+

Professional LinearZ LED Strip with Nichia Optisolis CRI98 +