Bright Ideas

Color Rendering Index in LED under cabinet lighting

Posted by Kamna Mirchandani on Oct 24, 2014 5:18 PM

In our last post, we talked about the importance of color temperature in your choice of LED under cabinet lighting. Color temperatures relate to the color of light emitted by the source.  Designers generally recommend color temperatures in the 2700K – 3500K range for kitchens with wooden, earthier tones and color temperatures in the 3500K – 4500K range for kitchens with primary colors and stainless steel appliances.  

In this post, we’ll explain another important metric called the Color Rendering Index or CRI.

Color Rendering Index (CRI) defined

CRI represents the ability of a light source to reveal colors of objects in comparison to how they would appear if they were lit by a natural light source. Objects render in their true colors under natural light however under different light sources, they appear different to the human eye. The highest possible CRI of a light source is 100 and the closer the CRI number is to 100, the better the color rendering. 


Traditional sources vs. LED

LED technology has been around since the 1960s in different forms; however its adoption has been slow in regard to residential lighting. One reason has been the inability of LED chip manufacturers to deliver a high enough CRI compared to incandescent and fluorescent sources of light. An incandescent source has a CRI closer to 95, but it is a very inefficient light source converting less than 5% of the energy to visible light while 95% is dissipated as heat.

Advancements in LED technology have resulted in modern day LED chips being able to deliver higher CRIs. This has contributed to an increase in LED adoption in the home.  According to a recent study by research firm Euromonitor, LEDs accounted for 15% of global sales of household light sources in 2013, up from 4% in 2009 proving that LED has become an excellent alternative to traditional sources.

The importance of CRI in the kitchen

CRI becomes an important metric to consider when it comes to LED under cabinet lighting especially if its main objective is task lighting. Whether you’re ‘Masterchef’ or ‘sloppy joe’ in the kitchen, when it comes to mixing, cutting, shredding and dicing, you need to be able to tell the colors of your food in its different stages of preparation.  For under cabinet lighting, CRIs greater than 70 will render colors of objects effectively. So be sure to ask about the CRI before choosing your LED under cabinet lights.

In our next post we will discuss lumen output; another key metric to help with your selection of under cabinet lighting.  

Are you considering under cabinet LED lights for your kitchen? Download our Buyer guide on ‘LED under cabinet lighting for your kitchen’  

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Topics: Under cabinet LED