What is CRI - Colour Rendering Index?

CRI is a scale from 0 to 100 percent measuring a light source's ability to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with a natural light source.


CRI, or Colour Rendering Index, is a standard measurement that assesses a light source’s capability to depict the true colors of objects compared to a natural light source, typically the sun. The index is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating better color fidelity. This means that a light source with a CRI close to 100 allows objects to appear in their true colors, while lower CRI values can lead to distorted or washed-out appearances.

Understanding CRI is crucial in lighting design, as it not only affects how we perceive colors but also influences mood, visual comfort, and spatial aesthetics. In areas where accurate color discernment is essential, such as art studios, galleries, or spaces displaying merchandise, high CRI values are especially important. However, while CRI is a significant aspect of choosing lighting, it’s one of several factors to consider, along with light intensity, color temperature, and energy efficiency.

It’s also essential to note that CRI is specific to color appearance under a particular light source and does not consider color vibrancy or how colors might look under different lighting conditions. Because of this, lighting professionals often complement CRI with other metrics to fully assess a light’s quality.


For example, when selecting LED lighting for a home kitchen, ensuring the fixtures have a high CRI can be vital for accurately seeing the colors of food and cooking properly. Similarly, in a retail environment, high CRI lighting can make products look more appealing and true-to-life, potentially influencing purchasing decisions.


  • What is considered a good CRI value for indoor lighting?

    A CRI value of 80 or above is generally considered good for most indoor residential and commercial settings, providing adequate color accuracy for everyday tasks.

  • Can a light source with a high CRI have a warm or cool color temperature?

    Yes, CRI is independent of color temperature. A light source can have a high CRI and emit light that is either warm (yellowish) or cool (bluish), depending on its color temperature.

  • How does CRI affect energy efficiency?

    CRI itself does not affect a light source’s energy efficiency. However, higher CRI light sources may sometimes use more energy to accurately render colors, so it’s important to consider both CRI and energy efficiency ratings when selecting lighting.

Practical Application

When designing a space or selecting new lighting, consider the room's function and the importance of accurate color representation. Prioritize high CRI lighting for areas where color accuracy is crucial, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and spaces where artwork is displayed. Balancing CRI with other lighting attributes like brightness, color temperature, and energy efficiency will ensure the space is both beautiful and functional.