What is CRI and Why Does it Matter?

According to our trusted friends at Wikipedia, "a Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source." Put simply, a CRI rating will help you determine exactly how well your light source can bring out the natural colors of the room, based on the already present light source (daylight).

Why Does it Matter?

At this point, you might be thinking "who cares? I've gone my entire life not worrying about a bulb's ability to render color accurately." You've got the point, but in fairness, there most certainly are people who care about this sort of thing. In the next section, we're going to break down the differences between high and low CRI ratings, and why it's important to have bulbs with high CRI ratings in individual rooms in your home, where color accuracy is crucial.

Highs vs. Lows

When it comes to the rating itself, the higher it is, the better the color rendering ability, or in this case - the truer. Conversely, the lower it is, the less that light source can accurately render color. In certain rooms, such as the bathroom, and the kitchen, the finer details are critical. If there are rooms in your house where having a bulb with a high CRI rating can have a noticeable impact in your life, those two rooms are at the top of the list. Now, to say that isn't necessarily to say that you should ignore other rooms in your house. We just think that the necessity is evident in those two rooms.

CRI vs. CCT

It's important to note that a bulb's Correlated Color Temperature (CCT, as discussed here) is independent of its CRI rating. What does this mean? Well, it's a little bit confusing, but we're going to do the best we can to explain it in simpler terms.

A natural inclination is to think that the higher the CCT, the closer you'll get to achieving a color rendering ability similar to daylight. However, a bulb with a high CCT doesn't always have a high CRI rating. The same applies the other way around. That's what makes blogs like these so important. That's what makes doing research and being an educated

consumer so essential. As a consumer, you're at the peril of trusting companies that are trying to convince you that their product is better than the next.

Thanks to FullSpectrumSolutions, here's a list of some common light sources, CCT and CRI values:

Candle: 1700k 100 CRI
High-Pressure Sodium: 2100k 25 CRI
Incandescent: 2700k 100 CRI
Tungsten Halogen: 3200k 95 CRI
*Solux Bulb: 4100k 98 CRI
Cool White: 4200k 62 CRI
*Ott-Lite™ Pro: 5000k 82 CRI
Clear Metal Halide: 5500k 60 CRI
*Verilux® "Natural Spectrum®": 5500k 82 CRI (also called HappyEyes® and Trucolite Phosphor Technology™)
Natural Sunlight: 5000-6000k 100 CRI
*BlueMax™: 5900k 96 CRI
Daylight Bulb: 6400k 80 CRI
*Sharper Image Bright as Day™ Lamp: 6400k 80 CRI (also called "wide-spectrum","daylight spectrum","natural spectrum")
*NextTen SunWhite® Lamp: 6400k 82 CRI
*Bell&Howell Sunlight Lamp: 6500k 80-85 CRI
*FirstStreet Balanced Spectrum®: 6500k 84 CRI

*=Marketed as a "full spectrum" or similar to sunlight source
All trademarks remain the property of their respective owners

With all of this in mind, hopefully, you'll be well on your way to giving the lighting in your home the attention to detail that is not only needed but often overlooked. We're thankful you've turned to us in this endeavor and want to wish you the best of luck moving forward. Cheers!

 

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