When discussing lighting, the terms “color temperature” and “CRI” pop up frequently and are often a point of confusion for the unfamiliar. Both can affect how the color of an object appears to the eye, so it’s helpful to understand these factors before choosing a lamp.
Color Temperature – Color Temperature describes the color characteristics of a light and gives an indication of how “warm” or “cool” it appears; the higher the color temperature value, the cooler the light color. It’s important to note that Color Temperature does not describe how natural or unnatural the colors of an object will appear under a particular light source. In fact, two lamps with the same Color Temperature can render colors differently.
Color Rendering Index (CRI) – CRI gives a numerical indication of a light’s ability to render the colors of an object accurately (i.e. as seen in natural light). CRI numbers aren’t subjective but scientifically determined by comparing a lamp to a standard. Color rendering is measured on a scale from zero to 100, with CRI 100 representing natural outdoor light.