Color Temperature and CRI| Why Lighting Matters

By Taylor Bickham Last Updated On 03/22/2019
striped socks on a chair

Imagine waking up before sunrise, pulling yourself out of bed, and shuffling to your bathroom. After completing your daily morning routine, you pull out your underwear, socks, shirt, and pants. Each article of clothing seems to be of distinct enough color that your freshly opened eyes are able to construct an outfit that doesn't look like a total monstrosity. Upon stepping outside of your home, you realize that the shirt you thought was blue turned out to be purple. How'd that happen?

This is an example of your color perception being altered by the CRI of the lighting in your home.

What Is CRI?

CRI stands for "Color Rendering Index". It represents a scale from 0-100 that is meant to convey how well a light source bounces color back to your eyes. Light hits your retina in the back of your eye where the pigments ignite neural connections and send them to the part of your brain that translates those signals into images, also known as the visual cortex. The light sources we see on a day-to-day basis are usually somewhere from 80 CRI up to 100.

Why Is CRI Important?

CRI is important for a number of reasons, one of them being color temperature and reflection. CRI has the power to make a navy-blue sock and a black sock both come off as well...black--and in more extreme cases, make a black and blue dress come off as gold and white.

Why Are Altered?

In regard to the black and blue dress phenomenon (and yes--it is in fact black and blue), the way that your brain computes color is contingent upon two key things: the color of the subject, and the light source--more importantly, the CRI. Outside of the fact that the image was overexposed, the light source installed in the space that the photo was taken in more than likely didn't have a high enough CRI to mimic the lighting needed to render the dress's true colors.

The higher the CRI, the better-especially when it comes to LED bulbs. LED lighting has the ability to give off a clean white light, unlike its incandescent, fluorescent, and halide counterparts. The brighter the light, the more honest the colors are rendered.

Why Does Lighting Matter?

Because color is the property of light that can be seen by the naked eye, light is the deciding factor in whether or not a color will be seen at all. You must remember that even in a dark room, no color is displayed at all.

Being sure to install lighting with a high color rendering index could mean the difference between the apples you choose at the grocery store or those shoes you spotted at the mall. A high CRI not only displays true color, but also has an effect on the way that the eye translates texture.

Shop our selection of high CRI lighting products and upgrade your home today!

Watt Did You Think?

How much do you think CRI matters? Let us know!

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