Battle lines drawn over colour rendering method

'There's no doubt we are in need of a new system' says Neonlite and Megaman boss Fred Bass

The lighting industry appeared to be gearing up for another of its periodic format wars as battle lines were drawn this week over a proposed replacement for the Colour Rendering Index.

The Illuminating Engineering Society in the US has unveiled a replacement metric dubbed TM-30, which has won the backing of the US Department of Energy.  But industry opinion is divided over the proposed method.

In a statement last week, the Global Lighting Lighting Association – which represents 5,000 lighting equipment makers –  appeared to pour cold water on the unveiling of the new method. It said it wanted to keep the existing and familiar CRI method which has been around since the 1930s, but it would welcome an addition to it. However, critics say the CRI doesn’t work well with LEDs.

Today US LED module manufacturer Xicato, a supporter of TM-30, upped the ante by publishing the TM-30 results for its entire product range of XTM and XIM modules.

‘We’re very supportive of TM-30 overall and recognise the need for an improved metric system. We have always been at the forefront of educating the marketplace and have created a lot of awareness around colour rendering and the rendering metrics. Moving forward, we will include TM-30 in our education materials,’ CEO Menko de Roos told Lux.

Other senior executives sounded a more cautious note. Fred Bass, managing director of Neonlite International, the brand owner of lamp maker Megaman, said it was ‘no surprise’ that TM-30 had won the backing of the highly influential US Department of Energy.

 ‘We are, without a doubt, in need of a better system for measuring colour rendering, as CRI measurement is known to be particularly poor when trying to develop comparisons across different lighting technologies.

‘However, I for one would like to know more about the new TM-30 colour rendering method and see how it performs before welcoming it with open arms as the new panacea for all our colour rendering ills.  If it proves to be able to deliver ‘a single new meaningful metric for fidelity’, then I would definitely be in favour of replacing the current methodology and having a new CRI metric. 

‘At present, legislation on statutory minimums for LED light quality isn’t fair, as we don’t have a measurement system that is reliable enough to create a level playing field.  However, if the CIE deems that the TM-30 colour rendering method is robust enough to deliver a true measurement of light quality, then this would open the way for legislation on statutory minimums for LEDs.’

The CIE says it ‘has a strong intention’ to revise CRI and that it has two technical committees actively working on the problem, one developing a new colour fidelity metric to update the CRI, and another investigating other aspects of colour quality for possible preference-related metrics.  

– The new TM-30 colour rendering method will be explored in a special presentation at the LuxLive 2015 event in London in November. To register, visit

– A special Lux webinar on lighting in retail in association with Erco takes place at 1pm BST/8am EST/2pm CEST on 14 October. To be notified of registration opening, email [email protected] with the subject line ‘lighting in retail webinar’.