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How To Choose The Right Colour Rendering Index (CRI) For Your Lighting?

What is Colour Rendering Index?

The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) for light source is a quantitative measure of the capability to preserve colour appearance of illuminated objects in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. In general terms, CRI is a measure of a light source’s ability to show object colours “realistically” or “naturally” compared to a similar reference source, either incandescent light or daylight. It’s rated on a scale of 1-100 with 100 being the highest.

Recently, CRI has had a renewed interest because of the new Light-emitting diode (LEDs) systems, which usually have a CRI rather low, but a good preservation of colour appearance and a pleasant visual appeal.

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What is the importance of Colour Rendering Index (CRI)?

When designing any space, colour, texture and finishes play a critical role in the process. Equally important is lighting. With high-CRI (90+), colours pop, textures stand out, and finishes have depth and lustre. Think of lighting as the fourth element of good design, which turns colours and textures into a vibrant palette of finishes and materials.

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Why do objects look different under certain lights than they are under natural light or other light sources?

Objects look different under different CRI lighting. The lower the CRI, the less accurate the colour will look. Sometimes it leads to us making mistakes – like matching a black sock with a navy blue one. We want to see colours accurately and this has to do with the Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of the lighting. A CRI value of 80+ will effectively portray colours and finishes. When the most accurate colour rendering is essential, 90+ CRI values are recommended.

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