We were delighted to be given the opportunity to have Hive Active Heating installed in our home just before Christmas last year (2014), its not even been a month since installation yet it has proven to be an extremely convenient and innovative upgrade to our home. Here’s a review of what it has been like to use. Some of you may have heard of Hive Home before, it was first set up by British Gas in 2012 with their mission to revolutionise the way we control our homes. Hive allows its users to intuitively take control of their home heating the way they want, from the comfort of their own mobile phone, tablet device or any laptop / computer with internet access.
What are the key features?
British Gas and their experts have deliberately made the whole experience of choosing, installing and using Hive as simple as possible. Here are the key facts you need to know:
- Hive works with your existing heating system
- Hive works no matter who provides your energy – you don’t have to be with British Gas for Hive to work
- One upfront cost, no subscription fees, no confusing tariffs or packages to choose from
- Hive retails for £199 with professional installation by a British Gas engineer included
- Geolocation – Alerts you when you’ve gone out and left your heating on, or when you’re returning home and the temperature’s set lower than you’d like. It’s optional to use and works with your mobile’s location services and WiFi connection. Operates through the Hive iOS and Android app
- Automatic Frost Protection feature helps prevent your pipes from freezing
- Temperature graph which shows you the temperature inside your house over time
- Temperature alerts, which you can set to text you when your house reaches a set temperature
- SMS control, for those times when you don’t want to open the app, just send your command to Hive by text
- Easy to set a schedule, to automatically control when your heating & hot water switch on and off
- If you have a hot water tank you can control your hot water too
- Hot water boost, if you just want your hot water on for an hour
- Pre-sets feature so you can set your favourite temperatures with a swipe of your phone
Did installation take long?
As soon as I registered to have my home installed, within days I received a call from the Hive British Gas team asking me to choose a date for installation. The fact that they had appointment slots available at such a busy time of the year surprised me. I was given a choice of AM / PM time slots and told the name of the engineer who would be arriving that day.
On the day of installation, the engineer called before turning up to ensure he was still okay to perform the job. He arrived on time and greeted me professionally. He went through with me what he would be doing and was well equipped with all the tools that he would need. He reassured me the approximate time he would need to fully complete the installation which was about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
There are three components for the Hive Active Heating system, a receiver to be connected directly to your boiler, a thermostat and a hub unit. In my case, the former two new units replaced my old Drayton system which I was delighted about.
The thermostat is wireless and can be placed anywhere you prefer, while the hub unit will need to be connected directly via LAN to your existing home router from your internet service provider, it will also require a power source. The package containing all the components needed for installation was not delivered to my address but was sent to the engineer.
Following installation I was taught how to use the system from my iPad and from the thermostat, he ensured I understood all the features before leaving.
What is the system like on a daily basis?
The app is nicely designed and well laid out, it is easy to use and to navigate. The system when first logged in comes with a pre-set schedule for both heating and hot water, of course this can be customised to however you like depending on how warm you like your home to be and when you prefer to have your shower. You can really tell there’s been a lot of work put into making all the features as family orientated as possible.
From a device of your choice you can check your central heating and the boiler’s status, you can see your home’s live temperature, which heating and hot water schedule you are currently running, what temperature the system is trying to achieve until it goes back into standby mode and lastly when the next schedule is due to start.
From the app or the My Hive website, you’ve got all the functionality at your fingertips, you can see the above and make schedule changes as well as temporary temperature changes. For hot water, there is also a boost feature, in the event that you require hot water for a little longer than expected.
The thermostat however is a bit different, it cannot be used to make planned schedule changes but otherwise you can turn both components on and off, boost the boiler and make temporary heating temperature changes until your next schedule overrides this again. It will even work when your home internet is down as it can wirelessly communicate with the receiver.
With the benefit of controlling your Hive from any internet connected device, anywhere, personally I have felt more relaxed knowing that I am in control even when I am not in the house. Whilst the Hive app offers additional functions such as Geolocation which alerts you when you’ve gone out and left your heating on, or when you’re returning home and the temperature’s set lower than you’d like, this is entirely optional. If you have kids who like pressing buttons or has access to your phone, you can even set a PIN for the app.
Whilst it is still early days for me, the degree of control that Hive offers is quite comprehensive, so hopefully in due course, this will materialise into saving some money off the energy bill.
Have there been any problems?
In the last three weeks of use, I have had two occasions where opening the app was followed by the message “We cannot access your thermostat remotely at present. Please check your thermostat and try again.” The problem meant I could not make changes to the system from my device, but it was still under control from the thermostat which served as a backup. It was only a temporary, self-limiting problem which was resolved by unplugging and re-plugging the WiFi hub. This hasn’t re-occurred since.
What would I like to see?
Whilst I believe the Hive Active Heating system is overall an excellent product and a very good system, one bugbear I do have is that there is no boost function for heating. Although you can make temporary temperature changes, these changes are temporary until you change it back or until the next planned schedule overrides it, which can sometimes be several hours!
Overall, having Hive in my home has been a brilliant experience, compared to my previous ‘conventional’ thermostat, Hive has been a significant upgrade. Although the process of switching, and learning to use a completely new digital system may be daunting to many at first, the Hive team and their engineer are always available to help. In addition, once the system is configured and all set to go, we can assure you, you definitely won’t want to go back to your old one!
This post was sponsored by Hive Home in collaboration with Nuffnang.