CRI Color Rendering Index: meaning and applications

Published : 09/14/2022 10:00:00

Is it possible to define the light quality of an LED lighting system? Anyone interested in the world of professional LED lighting will surely come into contact with the concept of Color Rendering Index. Usually abbreviated as CRI, the color rendering index turns out to be the official unit of measurement in LED lighting, starting from its introduction in the 1960s, to indicate how an artificial light source reproduces the color of illuminated subjects.

In simpler terms, if sunlight is the lighting source with the highest quality color rendering visible to the human eye, an artificial lighting device will never reach the same level. The difference is expressed through the IRC.

In this article we define what exactly the color rendering index is , how it is applied in the LED Lighting sector and which are the LED devices with the highest IRC .

Cos'è l'Indice di Resa Cromatica e perché è così importante nell'illuminazione LED

CRI o Rₐ What is the Color Rendering Index?

Color Rendering Index indicates how the colors of an object are seen by the human eye. The purpose of the CRI is to be able to define the level of accuracy in color reproduction of any light source.

The Color Rendering Index is calculated on a scale from 0 to 100 using the unit of measurement Rₐ: the higher the declared value, the greater the possibility that the light emitted by the LED device is able to reproduce colors in a vivid and natural way.

The chromatic index is declared within the hue code of a light source, together with the color temperature parameter. However, it is important not to confuse the two concepts: the color temperature only indicates whether a lamp emits cold or warm light, and does not affect the way colors are represented by the device.

In the light shade code, the first number indicates the CRI value while the second and third represent the temperature of the light. For example, a LED strip with code 850 has a CRI between 80 and 89 and a color temperature of 5000K.


DALI2 per il controllo dell'illuminazione LED

What are the applications of the IRC?

First of all, we highlight a fundamental assumption: it is not necessary that, for each application of LED Lighting, the color rendering index is always as high as possible.

A LED lighting system with CRI greater than 80 is already considered optimal for most commercial applications ; moreover, the lower the CRI value and typically the higher the luminous efficiency of LED strips or COB LED. For each use, therefore, the most suitable combination of color rendering and lumen x watt efficiency must be chosen.

Here is the recommended color rendering index for the most common LED Lighting systems:

  • CRI between 70 and 79: light sources generally used for outdoor environments , street lighting, emergency lighting or for outdoor spaces;
  • CRI between 80 and 89: light sources suitable for most indoor applications (offices, homes, inside public and private buildings);
  • CRI between 90 and 99 : luminaires designed for perfect color reproduction (shop windows, museum or theater lighting, painting systems).

LED lighting with a CRI of 85 to 90 is generally very good in rendering color, while light sources with a CRI of 90 or higher are reserved for activities that require a very high precision and flawless color discrimination.

CRI90 LED strip for efficient LED lighting applications

Professional LED strips with CRI 90

The evolution of the market and the exclusive partnership with Colors LED has led Digimax to offer more and more CRI 90 LED strips, including the D8128, D8240 and D8160 series with eight white color options (from warm to cold) and IP protection degree up to IP68. These three lines offer optimal light performance and have above average lumen and CRI values, thus saying goodbye to the pay-off between these two elements that you usually have to take into account.

The D8240 series for example, with 240 LEDs per meter, guarantees excellent quality of the light source , compared to the other two series (128 and 160 LED chips per meter). Equipped with a maximum length of 5 meters, all three LED strips offer the possibility of being reduced with pre-set cutting units , so that they can be adapted to various installations.

Strisce led ad alta efficienza con CRI90

Digimax LED products with high CRI values

In addition to offering a variety of high-efficiency LED strips suitable for most LED Lighting systems, Digimax offers a range of LED products for color-critical applications with very high CRI requirements.

Here are some examples of Digimax LED devices with high IRC :

  • Wide range of LED Colors strips with CRI 95, from classic linear LED solutions to flexible LED strips, up to LED Neon Flex 360° strips;
  • Wide choice of LED COB Colors with CRI 97, for high color rendering in hotels, museums, theaters, luxury boats, spas and commercial premises;
  • Selection of LED Colors strips with CRI 98, where the color deviation from natural light is minimal and practically invisible to the human eye.

Together with Digimax LED solutions in compliance with the Ecodesign Regulation, also discover our professional consultancy service dedicated to the LED Lighting world.


Illuminazione Lineare con illuminazione a 360 gradi

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