What is the Coloring Rendering Index?
Color is crucial to your decorating scheme and the way you want your home to look and feel. But if you’re not using the right lights, your colors will look drab and muddy. Look for lighting that gives you true, natural color to make sure everything looks bright and feels right.
The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a term used by designers and scientists to measure the way certain lights reveal colors. The CRI uses an index from 1 to 100. The higher the number, the truer the color looks under that light.
Importance of CRI
The right colors can have a profound effect on the way your home looks and the way it makes you feel.
When designing your home, you choose your carpets, artwork, and furnishings with care. Using lighting that makes your colors look muddy or untrue will destroy your best-laid plans and make everything look “off.”
Science has shown that certain colors can affect your mood. If you’re not getting true colors from your lights, you’re not setting the tone you want.
Warmth and Color
Another factor you need to take into account is how cool or warm your lighting is. Light temperatures are rated according to the Kelvin or K scale. The perfect lighting solution for anything involving color will have a slightly warm color temperature and a high CRI number.
Here are some typical lighting sources and their Kelvin scale numbers:
- Candlelight has a K of 2000.
- Soft white lighting has a K of 2000 to 3000.
- Bright, cool lights have a K of 3000 to 4500.
- Natural sunlight has a K of 4800.
- 6000 K or more gives stark, white light that’s good for tasks that require high illumination.
Lighting Choices and CRI
1. Choosing a CRI Index? Check the number for the results you can expect.
- 90-100: a True color that is sharp, clear and vivid.
- 60-85: Good color, similar to that seen in natural daylight.
- 55-60: A CRI of 55 gives a warm cast while a CRI of 60 gives a cooler cast to your colors.
- 50 and below: Poor color rendering, colors will be drab and muddy.
2. How do typical light bulbs rank on the CRI?
Fluorescent. Although inexpensive and practical, fluorescents have a low CRI of only 40. That explains why fluorescent lights tend to “wash out” some colors while making others look stark. Fluorescent lights should never be used to illuminate artwork, fashion, paint samples or other items that require bright, true resolution.
High-pressure sodium. You’ll only get a CRI of 25 with these lamps, which are mostly used for outdoor lighting, especially in commercial applications such as parking lots. The problem with low CRI in outdoor lights is that they don’t produce clear images on security-camera videos. For those, higher-CRI LEDs are preferable.
Incandescent. Pure, white light with a CRI of 100 makes these a good choice for showing the true colors of many items. They are not ideal for lighting artwork, however, because they give off high levels of heat that could damage fabrics and paint. If you do use them, consider placing them at some distance from your artwork or using a special heat-reducing filter on them.
Compact fluorescent or CFL. These bulbs have a CRI of 80 and a slightly warm color tone. They are a good, energy-efficient choice for most home lighting where you want to show off your artwork and other colored items.
LED. Most LED bulbs have a CRI of 80 or higher. LEDs also tend to have a slightly cool tone. Durable, energy-efficient LEDs deliver excellent color resolution. They’re also a good choice for precious, fragile antiques and artwork because the bulbs don’t emit heat.
Making the Choice
When it’s time to set up your lighting, think about what your priorities are in each room. A complete lighting scheme will balance practical needs with your desire to create a warm, welcoming space.
You can always count on SESCOS to provide expert guidance and installation. We sell, install and service a wide variety of lighting systems and have a huge selection of LED lights that will give you the long-lasting, true-rendering illumination that will make your home look its best.