Light Reflectance Value
Understanding LRV is crucial when choosing color for the built environment, interior and exterior.
Lori Sawaya, Color Strategist
Albert R. Sawaya II, EE, MBA • Metrology Expert

©2005 all rights reserved

LRV – You may have noticed these three letters on manufacturer’s color specifications, on the back of paint swatches or noticed an entire column dedicated on precious few square inches of space available in the index of paint fandecks. What do those letters stand for? What does the LRV number mean and how is it used?  It is rather simple.  Paying attention to a color’s LRV can prevent poor color/paint color selections by helping you determine and evaluate certain color characteristics.

Keywords:  LRV, Light Reflectance Value, brightness, lightness, visual ergonomics

LRV is the acronym for Light Reflectance Value. As mentioned, LRV is on the back of most color swatches and in the index of all major brands’ fandecks. Value is often confused with the term intensity. Intensity is about vividness or dullness – is the color clear or muted. Value is an important term used in color and it speaks strictly to the lightness or darkness of a color.

What is LRV Light Reflectance Value?

Light Reflectance Value (LRV) is the total quantity of visible and useable light reflected by a surface in all directions and at all wavelengths when illuminated by a light source. (ref. British Standard BS 8300:2001/A1:2005)

LRV is a measurement that tells you how much light a color reflects, and conversely how much it absorbs. LRV runs on a scale from 0% to 100%. Zero assumed to be an absolute black and 100% being an assumed perfectly reflective white. An absolute black or perfectly reflecting white does not exist in our everyday terms. Approximately speaking, the average blackest black has a LRV of 5% and the whitest white 85%. Some yellows can measure up into the 80′s or 90′s as well.