I’d been looking at the various heating systems for a while and wondering which option to get, but as I wanted to add some lights and switches I settled on the Hive Heating system from British Gas.
But what is it?
Simply put it’s a smart way on controlling your heating/hot water (this depends on your boiler type, we have a combi-boiler with hot water on demand so Hive only controls the heating aspect).
The system comes in 3 parts –
- A thermostat/control unit – this is the brains of the system and allows you set the temperature (as you would expect) but also programme schedules, allow temperature boosts plus it looks good and is also portable or wall mountable.
- A receiver – this receives the signal from your Thermostat/Hub (Depending on the version you opt for) and tells your boiler to turn on.
- A hub – the connection between everything and the internet, you need this option if you want to use the app on your mobile device.
There are also 2 installation options, self install or professional (by British Gas) install – if you aren’t sure what you are doing then I’d recommend the professional install, it’s more expensive but you know it’s done right.
Installation took the engineer just under 2 hours, which included mounting the thermostat, waiting for the hub to download software updates and a run through of the app on the phone.
The main immediate benefit for me was the ability to set schedules on a weekly basis – the basic timer on our boiler was a 24 hour timer which is OK but at weekends it meant switching the system on rather than timed and remembering to set it back to timed etc Now I have a weekday schedule and also a weekend schedule – no more messing with the control settings on the boiler!
Then there is the boost function, which if you are feeling cold you can press (either on the thermostat or from the app) and give the heating a temperature boost. I’ve also set an action on the app to boost the system for 2 hours to its normal set temperature in case I’m working from home during the week and it cools down in the house.
Heating aside, you can also add various other options such as light switches, plugs, motion sensors, window/door sensors, water leak sensor and cameras – so far I’ve added 2 porch lights, 1 living room light, the leak sensor and a plug which will control the Christmas lights when I set them up in the next couple of weeks.
For my porch lights I tried to be clever and turn them on at sunset and stay on for 4 hours but this didn’t want to behave so I’ve set a normal schedule – on at a certain time at a certain brightness and then dimming later in the evening before eventually turning off. A similar schedule is set on the living room light but that’s multi-coloured light so there is a bit of fun/geekiness to be had with that!
And now for some geekiness, the Hive system connects to Alex – in fact mine came with a free Amazon Echo Dot so I’ve been a big child and programmed a routine……
When I say ‘Computer, Battlestations’ the living room light turns on and straight to red and the red alert sound effect from Star Trek is played through the Echo Dot – Yes its geeky, but it’s also fun! And yes, there is a cancel battlestations option too. For more normal people you can add the Hive skill to Alex and just tell it to boost your heating etc
Now there were 2 things that did annoy me.
Before signing up for the special British Gas existing customer offer (£200 instead of £249 and a free Echo Dot) I checked my British Gas offers page – no offers. As soon as I signed up and picked the install date I went back to claim a different offer I’d seen and guess what, yep an offer for Hive, same package but for half price for £125 including install and the echo dot!
The other thing was the 8 week wait for installation – that was the earliest appointment I could get!
Overall it’s a good system, I’d like to see some more sensors (outside temperature, programmable IR units) and also a price reduction on the current options – I’d love to buy some window/door sensors plus an external camera but at the moment this would work out very expensive!