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Local Time vs. Standard Time: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 30, 2023
Local time is the time based on the position of the sun at a specific geographical location, while standard time is a uniform time for regions within a time zone.

Key Differences

Local time is determined by the position of the sun relative to a particular geographic location. It varies as one moves east or west, changing roughly by one hour for every 15 degrees of longitude. Standard time, however, is the synchronized time set for a specific time zone, disregarding the sun's position. It's used to unify timekeeping within a larger area.
Historically, local time was used when each city or town set its clocks based on when the sun reached its highest point in the sky (solar noon). With the advent of railroads and telegraphs, standard time was introduced to synchronize time across regions, facilitating schedules and communications.
Local time can differ significantly even within short distances, due to its reliance on the exact longitudinal position. This makes it impractical for modern communication and transportation systems. Standard time, on the other hand, sets a fixed standard for areas often spanning hundreds of miles, despite the sun’s actual position.
In daily use, most people refer to standard time when discussing the time. This uniform time is what is displayed on clocks, cell phones, and public time signals. Local time, while scientifically accurate for a specific location, is rarely used in everyday activities due to its variability.
Local time reflects natural time cycles based on the Earth's rotation and the sun's position, leading to minute differences as one moves across the Earth's surface. Standard time is an artificial construct, created to standardize timekeeping for practical purposes, especially in countries or regions with vast longitudinal extents.

Comparison Chart


Position of the sun relative to a location
Uniform time set for a specific time zone


Changes with longitude
Consistent within a time zone

Historical Use

Predominant before modern transportation
Adopted with the advent of railroads and telegraphs


Impractical for modern systems
Used for convenience in daily activities


Natural, based on Earth's rotation
Artificial, created for standardization

Local Time and Standard Time Definitions

Local Time

Time based on the sun's position relative to a geographical location.
When it’s solar noon, the local time is exactly 12:00 PM at that spot.

Standard Time

Timekeeping method that ignores slight variations in solar time.
Despite being in different longitudes, cities in a time zone share the same standard time.

Local Time

Time adjusted for the specific longitude of a place.
The local time changes slightly as you drive east or west.

Standard Time

Uniform time used within a particular time zone.
Standard time is the same across the entire Eastern Time Zone.

Local Time

The original method of timekeeping based on solar movements.
Local time varies from city to city due to differences in longitude.

Standard Time

Time set for regions regardless of solar time.
Standard time simplifies scheduling for trains and flights.

Local Time

Time calculated based on the local meridian.
Local time is determined by the exact position of a location on Earth.

Standard Time

A uniform time standard for easier coordination and communication.
Standard time was essential for coordinating activities across the country.

Local Time

A time system where noon coincides with the sun at its highest point.
Local time was more relevant before the establishment of standard time zones.

Standard Time

Artificial time system adopted for convenience in modern society.
Standard time is what we see on our digital devices.


How does local time affect travel?

Travelers may need to adjust their watches to match the local time of their destination.

How is local time determined?

It is based on the position of the sun in the sky relative to that location.

What is local time?

Local time refers to the time specific to a particular geographical area, usually determined by its longitude.

Does local time vary within a country?

Yes, large countries may have multiple local times due to varying longitudes.

Why is local time important?

It helps in synchronizing activities according to the daylight hours in that area.

Can local time differ in cities that are close together?

It can, especially if they are situated on different sides of a time zone boundary.

How do time zones relate to local time?

Time zones are a standardized version of local time, usually spanning 15 degrees of longitude.

Is local time the same as solar time?

Essentially, yes. It's based on the sun's position but often adjusted for convenience.

Is local time always accurate?

It can vary slightly due to the Earth's elliptical orbit and tilt.

Does standard time change with seasons?

In some regions, Daylight Saving Time adjusts standard time seasonally.

Is standard time the same worldwide?

No, it varies depending on the longitude of the region.

Why don't all countries use a single standard time?

Due to varying longitudes, noon happens at different times in different places.

What is standard time?

Standard time is the official time for a particular region, often aligning with a time zone.

How is standard time determined?

It's based on time zones, which typically cover 15 degrees of longitude.

How does standard time affect international communication?

It requires consideration of time differences for scheduling calls or meetings.

Do all countries observe daylight saving adjustments to standard time?

No, this practice varies by country and even by region within countries.

Why was standard time introduced?

To standardize timekeeping, especially for railway schedules and communication.

How many standard time zones are there worldwide?

There are 24 primary time zones, one for each hour of the day.

Can a country have multiple standard times?

Yes, large countries like the USA and Russia have several standard time zones.

What's the difference between GMT and standard time?

GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) is a time standard based on the mean solar time at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, London, while standard time is adjusted from GMT to fit local time zones.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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