Is Hive 2 any good and should you consider installing it it? Chris Haslam discovers British Gas’s stylish smart thermostat, and talks to a real life Hive 2 owner to find out
Hive Active Heating 2 from British Gas is a stylish thermostat designed to help households better manage their energy use. Once installed – by a qualified gas engineer, all included in the price – you can control your heating remotely (and hot water, depending on boiler type) via smartphone app or web page. Hive is compatible with the vast majority of UK boiler types and brands.
Like the majority of smart thermostats, the Hive 2 consists of three parts; a small Wi-Fi controller that attaches to the boiler, a hub to connect to your router via Ethernet cable and the thermostat. The Hive Hub lets the thermostat talk to the boiler and connects it to the internet for control via a smartphone or tablet. It also allows you to control any other Hive products, such as the Hive Active Plug.
The app makes it easy to create a detailed schedule for your home heating with up to six actions available each day. Instead of just having your heating come on in the morning for an hour, and then on again in the evening you can tailor the heating to suit specific needs, whether that’s warming the house later on weekends as you have a lie-in, or coming on later at night on Wednesday because you’re out at the gym/pub. How much information you give it is down to you – unlike the Nest it can’t learn your schedule – but the more detailed the schedule, the more efficient your heating should be.
Installing and using the Hive
As we mentioned, installation, by a British Gas engineer, is included in the price of the Hive and depending on your boiler type it can take from 10-90min to get everything up and running.
The Hive requires 4xAA batteries but being away from the mains does mean it can be positioned anywhere – wireless range depending – without trailing cables.
If you’ve got the original Hive thermostat you can upgrade to Hive 2 for £99. This doesn’t include installation but, British Gas assure us it is a straightforward DIY job.
Hive: heating and hot water control
Switch your heating on/off, up or down, and thanks to the boost button you can give your home a quick warm-up without needing to adjust the schedule. If your boiler is compatible you can also turn the hot water on and off, or boost it for up to six hours if, for example, you fancy a bath mid afternoon.
Using your phone’s location services Hive 2 can send you reminders to switch the heating on when you get within a set distance from the door, or more handily, remind you to turn everything off if you’ve left the house in a hurry. Unlike the Nest, Hive 2 won’t do anything automatically – it will ‘notify’ you if you’ve left the heating on, but it won’t switch it off for you. Regardless of this it is useful, especially for the absentminded.
Hive: holiday mode
Before you head for the airport enter the dates you’re away and Hive 2 will turn everything off, while maintaining a minimum temperature of 7°C to avoid pipes freezing, and on your return it will make sure the house is warm again.
Hive: frost protection
To help protect your pipes from freezing, Hive automatically activates when your heating’s off and the temperature inside your home drops below 7°C.
Hive: energy savings
British Gas says the Hive ‘could save you up to £150 a year’ but this figure may be a bit misleading. If you’ve been using a programmable thermostat for years, or have already tried to reduce the amount of energy you consume we wouldn’t expect you to see anywhere near as generous savings.
If Hive is an upgrade from a simple on/off thermostat then you should notice your bills dropping considerably while the remote control and the clever ‘geofencing’ technology means you’ll be instantly alerted if you’ve gone to work and left the heating on by mistake.
To improve efficiency further British Gas has the Hive Multizone (£179) which is designed for homes with more than one thermostat already. This extension kit allows you to control two zones – upstairs and downstairs for example – all via the app. This is extremely useful as you no longer have to heat the bedrooms while the family is sitting in front of the TV.
Hive Home – what is it?
British Gas also offers a range of smart gadgets to give greater control over your home all from the same Hive app. As well as the simple Active Plug remote control socket they also have the Hive Window and Door Sensor that will send you an alert if if you leave the house without closing them and the Hive Active Light bulb which lets you turn lights off remotely.
Live-Smart has yet to test the new Hive Active range but in theory you should be able to create a series of ‘recipes’ similar to those found on IFTTT (If This Then That), so for example when motion is detected, you can turn a light on.
Living with the Hive 2 – is it any good?
Gareth Ewens has been living with the Hive 2 smart thermostat for six months, but has it slashed his bills and does it live up to his expectations? Live-Smart quizzed him to find out.
- Name: Gareth Ewens
- Age: 39
- Job: Analyst
- Lives: East London with his partner and two young children
- House: Four bed Victorian terrace
What made you buy a smart thermostat?
“I wanted to be able to control the temperature in the house with a minimum of fuss, as well as being able to monitor and adjust the heating when out and about. Our old boiler control was archaic and I felt it was wasting money and energy. It was time to enter the modern era.”
Why Hive 2?
“We were with British Gas anyway, they had an offer on which included installation – something I’d never do myself – and in all honestly, I thought it looked nice.”
How was installation?
“It was all very straight forward. The engineers installed everything up without issue, and I found it no bother to set up a weekly heating schedule. The app is very simple to navigate, so it was easy to tinker with the program to get it just right.”
What’s it like to use on a daily basis?
“At the end of the day it’s still just a thermostat, so we’re not going to get that excited about it, but my partner and I have had no serious issues with it. As a rule, we let the program run normally but occasionally use the constant temperature setting or boost option if it gets too cold.”
How do you rate the mobile app?
“Admittedly part of me thought it was just a gimmick, but I use the app to control the heating much more than the box on the wall, even when I’m stood next to it. I don’t find the box that intuitive – the click and scroll when and display looks great, but it just isn’t as simple to use as the app – and it’s really easy to get an hour’s heating boost using the mobile app.”
Have you noticed a drop in your gas bill since switching to Hive 2?
“It’s early days still, but given how old my previous timer was and the fact I can control the temperature within half a degree, I do expect a small reduction”
What impressed you most?
“The Hive 2 looks good and always gets commented upon by visitors – it’s not often someone likes your thermostat – but it’s the app that has impressed me the most. It’s easy to set up, far more intuitive than the jog dial controls and great for giving the heating a quick boost.”
Hive 2 key features
- Wireless thermostat
- Website, Android and iOS apps for remote thermostat control
- Location detection
- Works with other Hive connected home products
- Price: £249.00, hivehome.com
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