LED Lighting Expert Written by Ben Teele | A Leader in LED Technology

CRI Lighting: Explaining Color Rendering Index

Proper lighting should enhance a space without drawing attention to itself. Lighting done poorly can be glaringly obvious. As lighting technology has evolved beyond incandescent bulbs, the industry has experimented with various alternatives, such as fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting. LED (light-emitting diode) lighting represents one of the latest advancements in this field. To gauge the quality of these new lighting technologies compared to traditional incandescent lights, tools like the Color Rendering Index (CRI) have become essential. A high CRI rating in LED lights is favored by both homeowners and professionals because it enhances the appearance of spaces and provides superior lighting quality.

Understanding CRI

The Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures how accurately a light source displays the colors of objects compared to natural sunlight. Essentially it gauges how closely a light source mimics sunlight, with results expressed on a scale from 0 to 100.

How Do You Test for CRI?

Testing for CRI uses 15 color samples. To test the CRI of our LED lights, we use a Light Integrating Sphere. The LED light is placed inside the sphere and is measured for color accuracy. This involves comparing those 15 color samples under the LED light to how they are rendered by a black body. A black body, such as the sun or an incandescent bulb, absorbs all visible wavelengths of light and renders a perfect CRI on those 15 color samples. The results of the LED light on the color samples are each assigned an R value. Standard evaluations for CRI commonly reference an average of the first 8 R values.

Typical CRI Values and Their Indications

  • CRI 79 and Below: Okay – Suitable for area or security lighting.
  • CRI 80-89: Good – Acceptable for most uses, providing good color rendering with an optimal balance of light quality and power efficiency.
  • CRI 90-99: Excellent – Ideal for art galleries, photography studios, commercial spaces, and grocery stores (especially for produce).
  • CRI 100: Perfect – Equivalent to sunlight and incandescent lights.
Comparison of different CRI light ratings

Benefits of High CRI Lighting

Lights with a CRI above 90 offer superior color accuracy and vibrancy compared to lower CRI-rated lights. High CRI lights reveal true natural colors and hues, creating a harmonious and visually appealing environment.

High CRI lighting is essential in settings such as art galleries, museums, commercial retailers, photo booths, and photography studios. In these environments, accurate color presentation is vital for appreciating art, capturing high-quality photographs, and displaying products effectively.

For instance, in a grocery store's produce section, standard lighting may cause produce to appear off-color, leading to the purchase of under-ripe or overripe fruit. In contrast, high CRI lighting accurately displays the true color of the produce, aiding customers in making better purchasing decisions.

Choosing the Right CRI for Your Needs

Standard CRI (80+) is appropriate for most lighting applications. High CRI (90+) lights offer the advantage of rendering colors most accurately, which is essential for certain applications. It’s worth noting that high CRI products generally consume more energy and are more expensive than lower CRI lights. In some states, regulations mandate the use of high CRI lighting for new installations to ensure quality and accuracy in color rendering.

Tips for Assessing and Comparing CRI in Different Lighting Products

A hallmark of a quality LED product is having the CRI rating included in the product’s specifications. When assessing lighting products, look for a good CRI (80+) rating to ensure that the light will provide a quality representation of an object’s colors. This can be particularly important in applications where accurate color perception is critical.

comparison of 90 and 60 CRI


The Color Rendering Index (CRI) plays a crucial role in the appearance and perception of lighting. It is important to consider CRI ratings when purchasing LED lights as it will directly impact how accurately colors are displayed. Applications such as art galleries and photography studios benefit significantly from high CRI lighting, where true color representation is essential for viewers.

We encourage you to prioritize CRI when selecting lighting products to ensure they meet your color accuracy needs. Explore AspectLED’s range of high CRI products, including our L-Series Linear Dotless, Flexible LED Light Sheets, and 3.15 Adjustable White Recessed Puck Light.

Choose AspectLED for high-quality lighting solutions that enhance your environment with true color fidelity and naturalness. For expert advice and product inquiries, please contact our team.