It’s been over a year since Hive first landed in UK homes and now British Gas has announced an update; the Hive Active Heating 2 thermostat.
Doing away with the uniform white of the past, the new-look Hive boasts a glossy, metallic front and a light grey plastic trim, which can be switched out for a number of different coloured jackets.
It’s not just about the fancy new looks – Hive is announcing a boatload of new features alongside an ambitious new roadmap, something that’s been in the pipeline for months now. We’ll cover all that in due course, but first of all, let’s focus on the Hive Active Heating 2 and how it differs from its predecessor.
Hive Active Heating 2: What’s new thermostat?
Read our review of the original Hive Active Heating smart thermostatMuch like Netatmo’s smart thermostat, with its Starck-stylings and removable coloured trims, Hive’s second-gen ‘stat can be customised to match the colours of your living room, kitchen, bedroom, or wherever you set it up.
Colour co-ordinating fanatics can pick from one of 12 different coloured jackets which have been designed in tandem with Dulux’s Feature Wall range.
They all come with suitably goofy names like ‘Teal Tension’ and ‘Urban Obsession’ (dark green-blue and smoky grey to you and me) although it was nice to learn that the ‘Moroccan Flame’ jacket just so happens to be the same shade of orange that Hive uses for its logo.
The mirrored effect of the front was apparently chosen so that it reflects the colours and surroundings of your home environment. It also has the effect of making it particularly hard to take pictures of – we spent a lot of time taking shots from the most flattering angles possible.
Aside from boasting a fancier exterior, the Hive Active Heating 2 has got some new tricks up its sleeve.
Hive Active Heating 2: Zoned heating, holiday mode, bursts and improved schedules
You’ve got greater control over heating schedules with the Hive Active Heating 2. You can set up to six different heating periods throughout the day and you can enable a ‘holiday mode’ which helps keep your home warm and prevent your pipes freezing when you’re away.
If you need a quick burst of hot water or you need to quickly heat your home up you can kick in a boost which can last from between one to six hours.
The Hive Active Heating 2 thermostat also supports zoned heating, something which has been on the cards for a while now.
This lets you control plumbed heating zones throughout the home, which, in plain English means you can choose to heat up certain rooms or floors of the home as opposed to heating up the entire house.
You might find this useful if certain rooms or areas of your home get colder than others in winter and it could save you a bit of cash too – if you’re only heating up one room at a time you’re using less energy. It’s this thinking that’s underpinned Honeywell’s rival heating system Evohome, which has supported zoned heating from day one.
Early adopters who shelled out for the first edition of Hive will also be able to play with these new features, but only once the Hive mobile app updates later in the year. This means that while the sexy new features won’t be accessible from the older thermostat, the Hive faithful won’t be kept out in the cold.
Hive Active Heating 2: One app to cool them all
Speaking of which, what will the forthcoming Hive mobile app look like? The short answer is like the current one, only better.
The revamped Hive apps will give you remote access to things like bursts, schedules and control of multiple zones (up to three from launch) and, eventually, control over a great many other things.
Much like version 5.0 of Nest’s app, future versions of the Hive iOS and Android apps will let you control a multitude of smart things including mains plugs, motion sensors, light bulbs, security cameras and door and window sensors.
British Gas has hinted in the past that it intends to go large on the smart home and this is our first real indication of where it intends to go.
Hive is essentially a beachhead into people’s homes. Once established, customers will be given the opportunity to control several things from one place, instead of having discrete apps and programs for every individual smart appliance.
Hive Active Heating 2: Smart plugs, light bulbs, sensors, heaters…
It’s not a unique approach; we mentioned just now that this is precisely what Nest is doing, Climote has plans to move in a similar direction and Netatmo lets folks do things like combine weather stations with its thermostats.
From Autumn onwards, you’ll be able to buy Hive Active Plugs – adapters that can be used to remotely shut off appliances you’ve left on at the mains – and Hive Window and Door Sensors that’ll send you a notifications when people get home from work or school or if a window is opened.
Hive Motion Sensors can also be paired with Hive’s smart light bulbs (called ‘Active Lights’) that mean lights can automatically turn on when people walk into a room. All of these things will be controlled by a future version of the Hive app that will arrive later in the year.
Hive’s future range of sensors and bulbs are built on a new platform called Honeycomb. If it sounds similar to Works With Nest, well, that’s because it is, at least on paper.
You’ll have noticed that we mentioned security cameras earlier in the piece. Hive doesn’t have any plans to launch cameras any time soon, but has confirmed that you’ll be able to access and control third party hardware through the forthcoming Hive app.
In the demo, we saw an early version of the new service working seamlessly with a Samsung security camera.
Director of British Gas Connected Homes Kassir Hussain said: “This is only the beginning. We’re already working to give our customers even more ways to customise how they control their homes with Hive so they can create personalised ‘recipes’ to fit with their lifestyles.
“We’re starting by adding our own products to the Honeycomb platform, as we open it up we’ll work with a number of trusted brands and partners too. Expect further announcements on this over the coming months.”
Hive Action Heating 2: Price and release date
If all of the above sounds good, you’re probably going to want to know when you can get your mitts on one.
The Hive Active Heating 2 is available to buy online right now, costing £249 on its own. Existing Hive customers will be able to upgrade to the new unit for £99 for a limited time.
Installations will take place from August 2015, but you can buy it now if you want to secure one or, if you’ve already got Hive, take advantage of that limited time offer.
Release dates and prices for the extended range of Hive products are still to be confirmed.