LED, color temperature, light source, lumens: it’s easy to get confused by all the acronyms and technical jargon used in the world of energy-saving lighting — but trust that you won’t be stumped by the Color Rendering Index, or CRI. CRI for LED Bulbs is simply another measurement of brightness and color. But if you are to get the best out of your LED bulbs, it’s important to understand what CRI is, what it means for LED lighting, and how it stacks up against the incandescent competition.
What is CRI?
The Color Rendering Index (also referred to as Color Rendition Index) at the most basic level expresses how close the light in the bulb matches the “reference light,” or the light it’s trying to replicate. In the case of LED light bulbs, the reference light is the sun.
How to Determine CRI
CRI is detailed in percentage numbers, with higher numbers meaning that the bulb’s light emission is closer to the sun. For example, a Color Rendering Index of 75 means that the bulb’s light shines 75% like the sun would. It’s better to purchase LED bulbs with high CRI percentages, because it will be closer in lighting to its source.
Big Factor: Time and the Reference Light
Interestingly enough, the reference light could be taken from the sun at different times of the day. So if the CRI is measured by a reference light of the sun at noon, then a CRI of 100 would mean that the bulbs looks 100% of what the sun would look like at noon. Always keep in mind what time of the day the reference light is drawn from, otherwise you could end up misreading the CRI. For LED bulbs, be aware that some manufacturers use color temperature – like 4200k, 5000k, etc. – instead of the sun to measure CRI.
CRI for LED Bulbs vs Incandescent Bulbs
The brilliance of LED bulbs is simple: they produce better or the same lighting results as incandescents without using as much energy. In terms of CRI, an LED bulb with a CRI in the high 70’s matches that of an incandescent with a CRI of 100, again proving that LED lighting can produce more results with less effort than its incandescent counterpart.
With this newfound understanding of the Color Rendering Index, or CRI for LED bulbs, hopefully some of the confusion of LED lighting has been put to bed. Now you can begin to fully make the switch from incandescents to energy efficient lighting.