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.
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|
|Office, general work||80||80|
|Office, work with colors||90||97|
|Interior design store||90||98|
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
- Nichia LED Backlight Module Matrix Mini 1 segment 4 LEDs 24V White 2700K 0.48W 68lmwas €2.40 Special Price €1.91
- Nichia LED Backlight Module Matrix Mini 1 segment 4 LEDs 24V White 4000K 0.48W 75lmwas €2.40 Special Price €1.91
- Nichia LED Backlight Module Matrix Mini 126 segments (9x14) 504 LEDs 24V White 2700K 60.5W 8610lmwas €199.01 Special Price €158.87
- Nichia LED Backlight Module Matrix Mini 126 segments (9x14) 504 LEDs 24V White 4000K 60.5W 9500lmwas €199.01 Special Price €158.87
Professional Strips LED Nichia CRI85
- Multibar44 Nichia LED Strip warm white CRI90 3000K 732lm 24V 44 LEDs 50cm bar (1464lm/m and 12.94W/m)was €22.91 Special Price €18.29
Flexible Professional Strip LumiFlex700 LED SunLike TRI-R CRI97+
Professional LinearZ LED Strip with Nichia Optisolis CRI98 +