Just how do you control all the bits and pieces in your smart home? Kate Haycock takes a closer look.

Control is an appealing but vague term. A light switch, for instance, is a control system ? it enables you to control exactly one part of one of the home?s many electronic subsystems (eg. lighting), and gives you a lifestyle enhancement over having to light a kerosene lamp or make a fire.

But what we?re talking about is really the other end of the scale: a whole home control and automation system that allows your watering to come on automatically, feeds your pool chemicals into your swimming pool, opens the pet door on the side of your house at 6 am for your dog, enables you to check your security cameras in your yard when you?re on holiday in Europe, and automates your air-conditioning to come on half-an-hour before you come home from work every single day, except weekends, when it knows to stay on all the time.

A control system, essentially, is what makes some or all of the electronic subsystems in your house work individually, and together, as you want them to. Control systems can be limited to one room, like a home theatre, or only applied to one electrical subsystem, like lighting, or they can be complex and encompass everything in your home, including watering the garden, your security system, audio-visual distribution, every light in the house, and more.