What is CRI (Colour Rendering Index), and why should I care?

We mention on this site that Lumicrest’s Pro Series – High CRI lights have a CRI over 95! So what does that mean?

Perfect white light is composed of all of the colours of the rainbow.

CRI is a measure of how complete the colour spectrum is in a beam of white light, and how well colours will be represented when illuminated by that light. The higher the number the better. A CRI above 90 is considered the minimum for use in an application where accurate colour rendering is a must, such as in art galleries, museums or retail apparel displays.

LED lights typically found in big box stores will have a CRI of around 80 or even less. These would be wholly unsuitable for critical applications.

So if it’s important to you that all the colours in your art, furniture, retail displays etc. be vibrant and fully visible, then you want the highest CRI you can get.

This iconic image helps to illustrate what happens when a beam of high CRI white light is split into its component colours by a prism.  If this light was shone on a piece of art containing all of the colours of the rainbow, all of those colours in the art would be visible to the eye.

Color rendering is a rather complex topic which includes questions about human perception, and continues to be the subject of intense study and discussion among scholars and standards committees alike.

For a detailed look at the CRI rating of our High CRI lights, see our LED Spectral Plot, CRI Performance and Binning PDF.

For an in depth discussion about CRI and other technical details about lighting, contact us and request a copy of our white paper “LED Lighting for Museums and Art Galleries”.