If you say “Hive” to someone in Edinburgh I suppose there are plenty who’ll think about bees and plenty who think about the nightclub.
I now firmly associate the word with British Gas’ connected home technology. Hive is a smart thermostat for your home and you don’t need British Gas to be your energy supplier to use it. I’m with Ovo.
There are three pieces to Hive, you need to have wifi and you will need a professional install. One piece fixes to your boiler to control it. The second piece connects with your internet. The third piece is the new control panel for your boiler. We put our controller in the hallway, away from the boiler but near the bedroom.
The smartphone app for Hive means you don’t need to use the controller. You can just tap in the temperature your home should be at and the boiler will come to life until that’s achieved. On cold winter mornings as we’ve been having recently, this is ideal.
My favourite feature of Hive is the schedule though. The old boiler had pins on a clock dial. I could program the boiler to be on or off at a certain hour. That was it. With Hive I have different schedules for different days and I can set different target temperatures. This means I can set the temperature to be higher when I’m home at night and want to settle down in the warmth. It means I can make sure it is toasty warm in the morning when I’m getting dressed but then drop the temperature back down.
Anyone with a dog, cat or other pet at home will appreciate this. There’s a difference between on and off when it comes to heating. You want a target temperature.
The Hive system is easy to use. The app works a treat on my Android smartphone and it’s handy to be able to turn the heating on or off when I’m not in the flat. Going to be late? I can delay the heating. Coming home early after being caught in the rain? I can turn the heater on from the bus so the flat’s warm for my arrival.
After the great BT internet crash of February 2016 in which most UK customers lost access to the web I wasn’t able to remotely control Hive. No one could. This is a risk of modern technology. However, the Hive picked itself up and got back online seconds after BT made their repairs. This is impressive.
In this review of British Gas’ Hive I wanted to touch on the installation process, though. That was the bit I was worried about. That meant dealing with workmen in the house.
Installation was straight forward and simple – from my point of view. The fully trained engineer turned up, on time, was friendly, made sure he didn’t trek mud into the flat and got down to business. He showed me how to use the system.
I won’t deny having to wait in for a workman is a pain in the butt at times but I don’t think fitting electronic devices to gas combi boilers is (or should be) in the comfort zone of most home owners. It’s understandable.
Hive’s main competitor is Google’s Nest. I’m a Google fan so why did I pick British Gas, one of the big utility companies so often in the news for the wrong reasons, over Google when it came to tech and hardware?
The smart thermostat isn’t the only device in the Hive family. They also have smart power plugs (which you can turn on and off remotely), motion detectors and window/door movement detectors. This shouldn’t be a one trick wonder from British Gas.
Additionally, I already have and really like a Canary as my at home smart security system. This meant I was unlikely to get a Nest product in that area. I didn’t have compatibility issues to worry about. Lastly, Hive looks to be getting ready to support IFTTT. That’ll be great. That means I’ll be able to further automate the flat’s heating rules in sensible and money-saving ways.
Overall? For less than £200 I think the Hive is worth it. It’s a modern home enhancement. It saves money and keeps you warm.