The Importance of CRI for Commercial Spaces


Sales posters and coupons are great, but if you are serious about driving sales, CRI is a term you must understand.

CRI stands for Colour Rendering Index and it measures the quality and accuracy of artificial light at rendering colours. It is measured on a scale of zero to one hundred and compares a light source against natural sunlight to indicate how closely it can replicate the true colours of an object. Natural sunlight and incandescent lighting have a CRI of hundred. Most common light sources have CRI’s between eighty to ninety.

What do you lose out by using low CRI lighting you may ask. Low CRI lamps deliver dull washed-out colours, sickly skin tones and lifeless eyes – failing to accurately portray a product to a viewer. With high-CRI lamps, colours pop out, textures stand out and finishes have a deep lustre to them.

A high colour rendering index is especially crucial to colour critical applications where presentation, colour accuracy, and the visual appeal is important. High CRI lighting can make food and produce in a grocery store look appealing, highlight clothing at a retail outlet and make a house on the market look vibrant and homely. It is often considered the fourth element of good design, as it turns colours and textures into a vivid palette of finishes.

Equally important to finishes and colours are how a person looks under a lamp. High-CRI lighting, specifically R9 and R13 values, produce more natural skin tones with better depth. CRI values of eighty and above effectively portray colours and finishes but if the most accurate rendering is necessary, lighting with values of ninety and above is recommended.

The colour rendering index of a light source will show the finer details in objects. In shipping yards, factories, warehouses and other industrial facilities, the ability to clearly see finer details is extremely important. Aside from the obvious safety regulations, workers can easily see the markings on boxes, manuals, containers and other objects. Simply put, lamps with the right CRI levels provide the most productive lighting levels for a working environment as opposed to orange or monochromatic blue-white light output. The variety of light distribution patterns available allow facilities managers to maximise fixture spacing, lighting levels and ensure uniformity. As a result, operations costs are reduced while the safety, efficiency, and quality of light in the workplace is improved.

In the era of incandescent lighting, CRI was not an issue due to its superior colour rendering. However, poor energy efficiency led to incandescent being phased out for more energy-efficient options like fluorescent lighting and LED lighting sources.

LEDs have been lauded for their energy efficiency but they also boast other benefits including a longer lifespan, absence of hazardous materials and reduced cost of maintenance. Modern LEDs such as V-TAC’s range of high-CRI lighting solutions now boast colour rendering levels in the range of nineties at a fraction of the energy consumption of fluorescent lamps.

Download a copy of the V-TAC lighting catalogue here.

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