How Colour Rendering Index (CRI) and Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) create ambience?

Lighting up colour in our ambience

Colour Rendering Index (CRI)

Colour Rendering Index

Colour Rendering Index (CRI) is the accuracy of colour and that will truly affect how you as the human perceives the effect of the light on whatever it falls upon. Therefore, to the average person, it may mean food which looks off and unnatural. In another context, it may also affect the quality of work in the office and workshop.

Why is this so? LED is digital light media but we live in an analogue world, surrounded by traditional light media. Example, the colour of a candle burning on a dinner table invokes romance and more beauty in the eyes of the beholder. That effect of colour accuracy perceived by the human eye is warm and romantic, albeit at times kindly dim. Apart from trying to read the menu or trying to differentiate between which is the vegetable or meat on your dinner plate. It is balancing colour accuracy and suitability which LED lights to have the flexibility over traditional lighting.

Why is this so? Simply, the CRI for true candlelight would be 100 Ra.

What is the typical CRI good for creating ambience?

CRI in many LEDs supplied from certain countries does not have a high CRI. Certain LED lights due to cost factors, will have a low CRI (which is typically CRI >70 Ra) as obviously the LED chip or bead comes with a lower cost. The CRI unit of measurement is termed as CIE Ra value.

Most importantly, low CRI invokes an artificial feeling which may degrade the atmosphere and ambience, the designer intends to create. A minimum of CRI > 80 Ra is important especially in creating a light feeling of warmth.

CRI comparison

Project Soori Bali – creating ambience with LED

Have a look below and watch the video to see how is Colour Rendering Index (CRI) important to enhancing our living environment? Because not many people realise that colour accuracy plays a critical part in creating mood and invoking our natural feelings. These feelings maybe romance, or a better appetite or being able to read longer without feeling tired. CRI artificially creates the mood from the way our eyes perceive the hue of what we see.

Colour rendering (or CRI) creates the right ambience at Soori Bali – Indonesia.

This part is about understanding two concepts being Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) and Colour Rendering Index (CRI). This is what the Lighting Research Center states of CCT and CRI:

“The correlated colour temperature (CCT) is a specification of the colour appearance of the light emitted by a lamp, relating its colour to the colour of light from a reference source when heated to a particular temperature, measured in degrees Kelvin (K)

“CRI is a measure of a light source’s ability to show object colours “realistically” or “naturally” compared to a familiar reference source, either incandescent light or daylight”.


Know the CCT

CCT is the colour you see from your perspective. It is the same for both LED or traditional lighting. There are labels as to what is that colour such as cool white or warm white. Yet when a LED light that is labelled warm white, and is actually viewed in reality, it would differ from person to person. It may NOT truly be warm white to each one of us. Warm white in traditional lighting such as the incandescent bulb is 2700K CCT, but differs for LED lighting. Why the confusion eh? CCT is a range from 2700 to 3500K.

This is the irony of the matter, and often confuses users of LED lighting.

Most noteworthy is first, LED’s CCT is always a range.

Second, the perception of that range itself is dependent on the quality of the LED itself. Typically LED’s CCT, especially for Warm White, is in the range of 2800-3000K (it may even go to 3200K). It all depends on the digital accuracy of the LED’s quality (to put it simplistically). You get for what you pay!


As a summary, one has to consider how do CRI and CCT affect the very basic selection of appropriate LED lighting colour. One should differentiate between areas of use, or location and application of the lighting.

We are glad to help you choose the right ambient lighting, check out our LED collections at now. Our online store carries different types of LED lights with different CCTs as an option.

Talk to us about your next ambient lighting projects via our chat widget or our Contact Us page.

On my next post, read on how you may create a romantic, and sensual mood for your home. (

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