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High CRI LED strip lights compared with regular CRI

CRI lighting: All you need to know about high CRI LED strips

High CRI LED strips can make a huge difference in how well colors are presented, such as in your home, store, studios, business, etc. CRI lighting is the major factor for the difference. High CRI lighting makes the same object look much better than lower CRI. What is CRI, and all you need to know about color rendering index for LED strip lighting is discussed in details in this article. CRI over 90 and R9 over 80 is referred to as high CRI. Many of our strip lights have CRI over 95.

At one time when you got into your car, you were surprised looking at yourself in the rear mirror and asking yourself: why do I look different from when I put on cosmetic at home? Another time, you put on a newly bought cloth at home. Also to your surprise, why does the clothing color look different from when you tried on in the fashion store? Why does it change like magic? Did your cosmetic or clothe change color? Of course not. It is the color rendering index that gave you the surprises.

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What is color rendering index (CRI)?: what does CRI mean in LED lighting

CRI stands for Color Rendering Index, which indicates how well the light source can faithfully and accurately reveal the original color of the object illuminated. In other words, how close the color appearance under the light source is to the original color. Original color is the color that appears under a reference light source, which is perfect in terms of the ability to reveal colors.

The reference lighting source can be a blackbody radiator or natural daylight, depending on the color temperature. A common example of blackbody radiator is the incandescent bulb. CRI has been the most common method to define the color rendering ability of light sources, including LED strip lights.

To obtain the CRI value of a light source, fifteen colors are used as test color samples. Each of the fifteen colors is tested under the light source. With comparison to the perfect light source, a quantitative value is calculated for each color as the value for the light source's ability to reveal that color. The lighting source then has a color rendering value for each of 15 colors, named R1 to R15.

When discussing CRI with a professional, most probably you will hear R1-R8, R9-R15, and R9. Below we'll explain what they mean and why.

CRI has the following fifteen test color samples:

the 15 test sample colors for CRI


  • R1 - Light greyish red
  • R2 - Dark greyish yellow
  • R3 - Strong yellow green
  • R4 - Moderate yellowish green
  • R5 - Light bluish green
  • R6 - Light blue
  • R7 - Light violet
  • R8 - Light reddish purple
  • R9 - Strong red
  • R10 - Strong yellow
  • R11 - Strong green
  • R12 - Strong blue
  • R13 - Light yellowish pink
  • R14 - Moderate olive green
  • R15 - Asian skin color

General CRI
CRI refers to, in most cases, the average value of the first eight colors, R1-R8. It is the General CRI, expressed as Ra. R1 to R8 are also called typical rendering indexes. The value of general CRI or Ra varies from 0-100. The bigger, the better.

Extended CRI
Extended CRI is the average value of all the fifteen test color samples, R1-R15. The limitation of general CRI is that it does not include the ability to reveal colors represented by R9 to R15. This is where the criticism of general CRI comes from. Many strong colors are represented by R9 - R15. R9 to R15 are also called special color rendering indexes. So in this sense, extended CRI is a more accurate of measurement for color rendering ability.

R9: an important parameter about color rendering ability of CRI lighting
R9 is especially important because it is for the saturated red color, which is an indicator to measure the ability of the light source to reproduce the object's red color. The larger the R9 value, the higher the ability of the light source to reveal the red color. This is an important factor when buying high CRI LED strips.

Red color is the one of the most important colors in our colorful world. So many objects have red color or various shades of red. It can be seen almost anywhere, such as in foods, arts, clothing, cosmetics, furniture, and many more. In the field of medical lighting, the light source for certain applications requires high R9 so that the capillaries of human body can be seen. So, the value of R9 is very strict in medical lighting.

Energy Star, a logo for many LED lights, is not only for energy efficiency, but also related to CRI. The standard requires all Energy Star lights have a CRI over 80 and R9 higher than zero. In our opinion, this is not enough for an LED light. R9 should be at least 60 to qualify as a high CRI light source.

Among the fifteen test colors for LED lights, R9 is the most difficult to perform well. Warning! Some poor quality LEDs even have a negative value for R9. Using these poor quality LEDs will cause distortion for the colors under illumination. Due to the special characteristics of R9, when people talk about CRI, they sometimes refer to the general CRI Ra plus R9.

How to improve R9 for CRI lighting?

There are two main methods to improve the R9.

  1. Add a radiant red light phosphor with high saturation when making white LEDs. This method is a common practice for improving LED's R9.
  2. Use red lighting properly when design lighting applications.

The R9 for ordinary LED light strips need to be greater than 50. But many of them on the market have the R9 lower than this value, and some even have negative numbers. Why are so many light strips with so low R9? The reason is that some manufacturers use inferior materials in order to save costs.

What is the difference between CRI and Ra?

CRI and Ra are basically the same and have the same meaning for coloring rendering ability. By definition, CRI is most commonly referred to as the average value of the first eight test color samples, R1-R8, and is expressed as Ra. When the light source is poor at one of the test color samples, the object illuminated will look distorted for that color.

What is high CRI?

High CRI LED strip lighting makes color vivid
High CRI lighting makes colors vivid and vibrant

High CRI lighting means that the light source can faithfully reveal the original colors, close to the reference light. High CRI is defined as the General CRI Ra greater than 90 and R9 higher than 70. The scientific reasoning for the definition is explained below.

High CRI refers to the CRI value that is very close to the reference light. The color rendering index of incandescent lights is perfect by the CRI definition. For LEDs, we also should pay close attention to another reference light, the daylight. Why? Because the color temperature comes into play when discussing CRI lighting.

It is under the same color temperature that CRI is defined and should be compared. For a cool white LED strip light, the higher the color rendering index, the closer the colors under its illumination are to the colors under the natural daylight.

The higher the CRI, the better the need of true colors pursuit by the human eyes is served. With fluorescent tubes that are low in CRI, the colors of the illuminated objects look slightly distorted. They look as if someone had put a gray veil over the colors, making them look dull and lifeless.

Real high CRI lighting
When we discuss LEDs for high CRI lighting, we not only need to consider the typical color rendering index Ra, but also should take into account the special color rendering index R9 to R15.

R9 is very important as it is the rendering ability for saturated red. As mentioned above, R9 is the hardest color for LEDs to reveal very well. Lights can have a high CRI over 90, but poor R9 as low as 20. Such lights will make the colors distorted due to poor R9 specification.

Therefore, only when CRI (Ra) is greater than 90 and R9 is greater than 70 shall we say that the light source has a real high CRI lighting. In other words, only when both Ra and R9 have high values at the same time, the high CRI lighting of the LED can be ensured.

High CRI LED strip

Our LED strip lights are created with the LEDs with very good CRI rating. We build all high CRI LED strips with high CRI 90 LED with R9 over 70. We also manufacture super high CRI LED strip lights with CRI over 95 and R9 higher than 80.

The figure below is the test report for our super high CRI LED strip 5050 white, 60 LEDs per meter. The report shows the respective value for R1 through R15. The average of R1 through R8 is 95.9, which is the CRI Ra value for the LED strip. Noticeably is the R9 value 80, higher than most LED strips on the market.

High CRI LED strip test report

What can high CRI LED strips do?

High CRI LED strip is an indispensable product in CRI lighting design. Many incredible designs come from the smart use of high CRI LED strip lights. Moreover, it has been popular because of the many advantages such as green energy-saving feature, soft and delicate lighting, and remarkable effects.

Imagine that in different application scenarios, high CRI LED strips transform spaces into a whole new level of lighting environment. They can change the atmosphere for the whole space, reveal the true colors, and add aesthetic design features. It is a very exciting experience.

Living rooms
Many people are troubled that the home rooms lack a sense of warmth and cozy. Think carefully, who doesn't dream about the home to be a warm and comfortable harbor? But you may not know that your home is really only a light strip distance away from what it should be.

living room high CRI lighting
High CRI strip lighting transforms living room into a piece of art

Whether in the living room, the bedroom, or even in the inconspicuous corners, as long as a high CRI LED strip is used, the whole home will have huge changes in how it looks. High CRI LED strips accurately reproduce both strong and subtle colors for the complex environment of indoor decoration. Even warm white LED strip lights with high CRI make the whole space colors more three-dimensional, adding the feeling of spatial layers to the space.

The birth of LED strip lights has raised the lighting application to a whole new level, that is seeing the light without seeing the light fixture. Install the LED strips inside the ceiling coves. Turn them on. The soft light comes out from the hidden dark coves and sheds down all over like waterfalls decorating the walls. The whole space is full of warm and cozy mood, and the spatial perspective of the whole space immediately highlighted.

Jewelry stores
The special characteristics of the jewelry itself have very high requirements for the light source. High CRI lighting is extremely important for jewelry display. 4000K neutral white LED strip or 6500K LED strip with high CRI can make jewelry shining and glossy, reveal jewelry's purity and exquisite texture of luxury, and look more upscale. Jewelry display cabinets are especially suitable for high CRI LED strips, which generally require a CRI 90 and higher for commercial display lighting.

Cosmetic shops
Cosmetic shop is a place full of colors. High CRI LED strip lighting will make a difference there by being able to show customers the correct and real colors in quality. They will display the charm and fineness of the products, so that customers can have a rare and precious psychological feeling.

At the same time, high CRI lighting is essential to present the best skin color and the makeup look for women. Customers will know for sure how they look when they put on the cosmetics they like the best. It will also create a simple, bright and comfortable shopping environment for customers.

Clothing stores
Clothing store is the another place where color really matters. High CRI LED lighting can have an unexpected effect on how the colors of clothing is presented. The high CRI LED strip lighting makes every piece of clothing in the store an irresistible gorgeous fashion, and makes shopping customers feel happy and comfortable.

Restaurants
Restaurant owners need to consider high CRI strip lighting seriously as well. Food is not just about delicious and taste, it is also about how the food is presented in front of discerning customers. The food with the best taste can look dull due to poor CRI lighting, which is a disaster that should not happen to a pleasant dining experience. In the contrast, high CRI LED strip lighting will make your food look fresher, more delicious and appealing, enhancing the pleasure of dining. That is why tunable white LED strips with hight CRI are widely used for restaurants.

Supermarket
High CRI LED strips with high brightness are especially effective for the best of reproduction of red and green colors, which is critical for the produces in the supermarket. Under the light of high CRI, vegetables and fruits look fresher and full of juice, with natural and healthy attractiveness. Meat looks fresher, more rosy and tender.

Arts studio, photography, and printing shop
Color is the most important thing that matters for arts. Super high CRI lighting is a must for art creation. The same for the photo and printing shops. Pictures, brochures, and advertising banners need the right decision on the judgment and presentation of colors. Super high CRI lighting will ensure the right decision and get job done well.

Museum and art collection
The display of art collections relies on the right lighting to show the right colors. High CRI LED strip lighting is very important to display museum and your home collection.

Hospitals and labs
We barely know that high CRI lighting plays an important role in the tasks in hospitals and labs. Color is an important factor for certain clinical judgments on the organ's health status. Researchers in labs also rely on colors for certain analysis. For example, deep red or light red can mean different stages for a chemical reaction experiment. With colors coming into critical play in hospitals and labs, high CRI lighting is the right choice.

High CRI for better health of human eyes
High CRI lighting are also friendlier to human eyes. When under a light that is different from natural light, our eyes will feel uncomfortable. High CRI lighting, closer to natural light, will cause less strain in eyes.

If the color rendering index is too low, it will affect the judgment of the human eye on the colors. Over time, it will cause various vision problems. Different scenes have different requirements for the color rendering index of the light source. From the point of view of protecting vision, the color rendering index of the LED strips used should be greater than 80.

In conclusion, in the era of personalized lighting, the high CRI LED strips have changed from a traditional functional lighting tool to a personal lighting creator around you. So, just make some simple small changes and install an LED strip light, and your space will have an indescribable charm that everyone will enjoy. The original ordinary space is made to have a distinctive lighting effect.

Whether it is for lighting or to create an atmosphere, the light always depends on the human eyes to feel and tell if it is high quality. CRI is the factor that reveals the right color and help to enhance the ease for eyes.

Unsuitable light, or unqualified LED light strips, produces the lighting effect that is greatly distorted, and may even hurt people's eyes. Therefore, better understanding of CRI and CRI lighting will help you make the right decision when buying a high CRI LED strip light.