CR-WHAT? Sure, maybe you have heard of CRI, but if you’re like most people, you’ve never paid much attention to those three little letters. But if you’re in the market for an LED system, this bit of knowledge can mean the difference between lighting that you love, or lights that you simply tolerate. And let’s face it, if you’re wrapping up a remodel, the last thing you need is for finishing touches like lighting to spoil all your hard work!
So what exactly is CRI? According to the Lighting Research Center, “CRI (color rendering index), is the measurement of a light source’s ability to show an object colors most naturally or realistically when compared to a reference/natural light source.” Or, more simply, CRI is simply a way to identify how well a light source will preserve the natural colors of an object or environment.
Knowledge of this crucial lighting measurement was fairly limited to the field of professional photography until the recent emergence of LEDs onto the consumer market. When capturing photos of clothing, products, or people using a specialized light source, CRI became extremely important to the accurate portrayal of an item or individual. This same rule applies when deciding on purchasing the right LED lighting for your home.
The Apple Test
Let’s use the CRI variation of the apples shown to the above as an example. All of the apples are shown under a 2700K light (similar to Inspired LED’s Warm White LEDs), with the lowest CRI depicted on the right, and the highest CRI on the left. The scale for CRI is rated 1-100, with 100 being the highest and most “natural” looking light source, and 1 being the furthest from natural coloring. Just take a look at the CRI listing under each apple. In comparison to the apple on the left, the one on the far right appears dull, discolored, and certainly not very appetizing! Gradually as the CRI increases the apple begins to look more realistic; the shades of red become more and more pronounced until the apple looks picture perfect!
Not Just for Food
Of course, ligting CRI isn’t just important for food; this change in color can have a profound effect on the spaces within your home. Under low CRI lighting, objects like counter tops, cabinets, shelving, and paint colors can appear dull, or may not match as well as they did in the store. It can mean the difference between crisp white cabinets, or a kitchen with a greenish hue.
High CRI is also important when displaying or reatailing products such as jewelry, art, or collectables. Lighting with poor CRI can even change the appearance of your skin tone (bathroom remodels beware!). Because the appearance of all these items can be substantially altered by the CRI of a light, it is important to choose a good quality LED with a high CRI rating.
At Inspired LED, we have long recognized the significance of CRI, and since opening our doors in 2009, we have been building our lights with 80+ CRI LEDs. Now, we are excited to announce that we have begun stocking and transitioning to 90+ CRI products in order to provide the highest quality lighting to our customers! Inspired LED’s 90 CRI LED flexible strips and LED panels are just as energy efficient, low profile, and affordable as ever, but with the added benefit of superior color preservation. These items are available for purchase now online or over the phone!