Hive Connected Home - Brief Review

Hive is a service that lets you control electrical items from the internet or smartphone. The central part in the home is the hub which communicates with hive online. The hub receives its instructions and then tells the smart items in the home to switch on or off. These can be controlled by smartphone or through the web app. The system allows for both manual and scheduled changes to be made.

Hive can connect to several types of smart items which include LED light bulbs, motion sensors, door sensors, as well as a thermostat to control your heating. The pack I got contained the hub and 2 dimmable LED light bulbs.

The light bulbs I got work really well. They are 9W each which is equivalent to a 50 - 55W incandescent light bulb and thus, are far more energy efficient in terms of cost to run.

Limitations

At the moment Hive only works with regular bayonet or screw type light bulb fittings. I would love to see the technology moved in to a GU10 LED light, or alternatively, a smart switch being made available where you control the power to a collection of standard GU10 fittings. I’m sure this will happen, but they are not available yet and haven’t been announced either.

Speaking about “collections”, it would be great to be able to group all my living room light bulbs (I have 4) in to one group and control them together, but retain the ability to control individually. If I need to switch on lights remotely I am stuck with having to use a schedule or by turning each bulb on individually from within the app. One up side for when being at home is that I can cut power to the bulbs and then switch them back on with the wall switch. This overrides any current settings you might have and puts them on at full brightness until any queued scheduled changes might tell it otherwise.

I haven’t received the other bulbs and parts yet, but when I do I want to explore what can be done in terms of automation. The Hive app supposedly opens up a new option to make things smarter such as switching lights on when the door opens or using motion to switch them on. I’d like to see what I can get working when all the new items arrive. Rather than having lights on in the living room while I’m upstairs, I’d like it to switch them off after detecting no movement for a determined period of time.

The Hive website says that the hub now integrates with the Alexa Echo and Alexa Dot. I don’t have an Alexa device yet, but have ordered one as a gift for when Santa visits this weekend. I noticed while using the Alexa config app that I might be able to group lights in to collections. I guess this means that I can say “Alexa, turn on all lights upstairs” or “Alexa, dim the living room lights to 50%”. I might be being optimistic with these thoughts, so I’ll put it through its paces next week and report back.

Another test I am looking forwards to is seeing what difference the thermostat makes. I like the idea of coming home from a long drive and having the house warmed up for when I get home. Likewise, I like the idea of the heating being on a thermostat instead of always on or off as it has been for the last 10 years in this home. I’m sure we can be more fuel efficient as a family by making some small adjustments to how we use our heating system.

Final Thoughts

So far I like the Hive service. I haven’t worked out any cost savings just yet as I’m sure these will take a few years to be realised, but for someone who likes nerdy stuff, a smart “ish” home is quite cool.

I’ll write more when the extras arrive and then another followup when the Alexa Dot arrives.

If you are in the UK and do use British Gas as your energy provider, you might want to check emails that came in the first 10 days of December from them to see if you have an offer for a free Hive starter kit. I checked with my Dad and he did not, so I’m not sure how the selection process worked for this.