Understanding CRI & Color Temperature

understanding CRI and color temperature in lighting

Lighting plays a crucial role in our everyday lives, but choosing the right lighting fixtures can be a daunting task, considering the multitude of technical terms and specifications involved. In this blog post, we will dive into understanding Color Rendering Index (CRI) and Color Temperature, unravel their significance, and how they impact our perception of the lighting.

Color Temperature

Color temperature refers to the characteristic hue of light emitted by a particular light source. It is measured in Kelvins (K) and is often described in terms of warm or cool tones. Despite the name, color temperature has nothing to do with actual heat but rather relates to the color appearance of light sources.

How It’s Measured

The Kelvin scale, used to measure color temperature, ranges from lower values (warmer tones) to higher values (cooler tones).

  1. Warm White (2000K-3000K): This range resembles the warm, cozy glow of candlelight or the soft radiance of an incandescent bulb. It creates a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, making it ideal for residential spaces, restaurants, and lounges.
  2. Neutral White (3500K-4500K): Falling in the middle of the Kelvin scale, this range produces a more balanced and natural white light, similar to daylight. It is commonly used in offices, schools, and retail settings.
  3. Cool White (5000K-6500K): This range emits a crisp and bright light that mimics daylight at noon or a cloudy sky. It is often utilized in places that require high visibility and a sense of alertness, such as hospitals, warehouses, and outdoor areas.

Effects of Color Temperature

Color temperature impacts our perception, mood, and visual comfort. Here are some key effects of different color temperatures:

  1. Emotional Impact: Warm white light tends to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, evoking feelings of comfort and relaxation. On the other hand, cool white light can foster alertness and productivity, making it suitable for task-oriented environments.
  2. Visual Comfort: The right color temperature can greatly enhance visual comfort and reduce eye strain. In spaces where accurate color perception is crucial, such as art galleries or design studios, neutral white light with a high color rendering index (CRI) is recommended.
  3. Spatial Perception: The color temperature of light can affect our perception of space. Cool white light can make a room appear more expansive and vibrant, while warm white light can create a sense of intimacy and coziness.


Color temperature is a fundamental aspect of lighting design that significantly impacts our perception, mood, and overall visual experience. Understanding the different color temperature ranges and their effects empowers us to make informed decisions when selecting lighting for various settings. 


What is CRI?

The Color Rendering Index, abbreviated as CRI, is a quantitative measurement of a light source’s ability to accurately reproduce the colors of objects as they would appear under natural light. CRI is based on a scale from 0 to 100, with a higher value indicating better color rendering capability. A CRI value of 100 represents the highest level of accuracy, where colors appear as they would under daylight or reference light sources.

Why is CRI Important?

The importance of CRI lies in its ability to influence our perception of colors in various environments. A light source with a high CRI enables us to discern subtle color differences, perceive textures, and accurately identify objects. Conversely, low CRI light sources can distort colors, leading to inaccurate assessments of our surroundings.

The Limitations of CRI

While CRI is a useful metric for evaluating color rendering, it is far from perfect. CRI is based on a limited set of color samples and does not consider the entire color spectrum. CRI also places more emphasis on the rendering of pastel colors rather than saturated colors. New metrics have been developed that address these limitations, but CRI continues to be the dominant color measurement in the lighting industry.

Thanks for reading! We hope this blog post has been helpful.

More Than Metrics

Metrics can be useful, but even more than photos and photometric data, the best way to know if lighting fixtures are the right solution for you is to see them in action! The Springtree demo program includes fixtures to try in your facility at a discounted price! If you love them, keep them at a lower price, and order more. Not the right fit? Return the demo in 30 days, and receive a full refund. All you have to pay for is the return shipping.

We offer a demo program for the following Springtree products.

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