What is split or cumulative stopwatch time?
When looking for a stopwatch, there are features that can be confusing at times. This article will clarify what lap time/split time and cumulative stopwatch time mean. For most people who are not stopwatch experts, looking at lap/split time versus cumulative time as a function of the stopwatch can be a barrier to placing an order. If you don’t know what a feature is, how can you tell if you need it. We will explain the difference in a simple way with clear examples.
Generally lap time/split time means the time between events. For example someone is running a mile on the track (4 laps), you will start the stopwatch and every time you press the lap/split button it will record the time for each lap. In this example, the runner will cover the mile in 4 minutes with each lap run in 1 minute, lap 1 will show as 1.00, lap 2 will show as 1.00, lap 3 will show as 1.00, lap 4 will show as 1.00. So in this example, the runner runs each lap in 1.00, so that’s the split time that will be shown on the stopwatch.
Cumulative time is the total time in each phase for which the stopwatch has been clicked on a split time. In the same example of someone running a mile in 4 minutes, with each lap being run for 1 minute, you would start the stopwatch and each time you hit the lap/split button it would show a cumulative time. The cumulative for the example given above will show the total time, so a lap 1 split will show as 1.00, a lap 2 split will show as 2.00. the lap 3 split will be shown as 3.00 and the lap 4 split will be shown as 4.00. So in this example the total time will be displayed for each split.
Some stopwatches show both lap/split and cumulative time. I always think it’s better to have both, but in some cases where you might have kids or volunteers using the timers, it’s better to keep it simple and only have the function you need.
Here are some examples of simple stopwatches with lap/split functions:
Here are some examples of simple timers with cumulative division functions:
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As you can see, some of the timers listed are on both lists, and that’s because they can be set to either lap/split time or cumulative time. Depending on what you are timing, you may need one type of timing over another.
When timing a race with multiple runners you need to get their finish time for each runner, you will only be looking at cumulative times.
If you were assembling a table and needed to know how long it took to assemble each part of the table individually, you would need the lap/interval time.
If you’re timing an individual runner running something like a mile, you’d want both a lap and a total time so the runner can see how they run each lap and their total time.
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