|At a glance|
|Product||Centrica Hive Smart Home System () [Website]|
|Summary||Smart Home system with hub, color tunable bulbs, thermostat, plug, motion sensor, door/window sensor and Wi-Fi security camera.|
|Pros||• Simple setup|
• Support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT
• Motion and door sensor alerts via mobile app or email
• Desktop (browser), iOS and Android support
• Expandable via other Hive-branded products
• Knowledgeable US-based phone and Email support
|Cons||• Bugs in Alexa/Google Assistant integration|
• Thermostat is missing features found in competing products
• No sunrise/sunset-based schedules
Typical Price: $350
If you're thinking about turning your home into a "smart" home and are just starting out, you face a smorgasbord of products from a lot of vendors. You have to decide what you want to automate, such as lights and smart plugs, and how you can add on in the future.
If you don't want to worry about comparability among multiple vendors' products, one simple way to approach your purchase is to buy everything from a single vendor. That way, you know that what you're buying will interoperate with all products of the same brand. If that sounds like a good plan, say hello to Hive from Centrica Connected Home.
According to Wikipedia, Hive was created in 2012 by British Gas, which is owned by Centrica. The first product was, naturally, a smart thermostat to control heating and hot water. Since then the Hive product line has grown and U.S. distribution started last year.
Hive simplifies your entry into home automation with four preconfigured bundles of products called "Packs". Each Pack contains a different mix of Hive products designed to meet different needs. The most popular pack and the one featured in this review is the Welcome Home Pack. It sells for $349.99 or you can also purchase it for $14.58/month for 24 months charged to your credit card. The Welcome Home Pack contains the following products:
- Hive Hub
- 2 Hive Active Light Cool to Warm White LED bulbs
- Hive Motion Sensor
- Hive Active Plug
- Hive Window/Door Sensor
- Hive active thermostat
The Hive Starter Pack, $199.99 (or 24 payments of $8.33/month) includes the Hive Hub, 2 Hive Active Light cool to Warm White LED bulbs, one Hive Active Plug, and two Window/Door Sensors
If all that you're interested in is a Smart Thermostat, the Hive Heating and Cooling Pack ($229.99 or 24 payments of $9.58/month) contains the Hive Hub (required) and Hive Active Thermostat.
Finally, the Hive Close to Home Pack also $349.99 (or 24 payments of $14.58/month), includes the Hive Hub, one Hive Window/Door Sensor, one Hive Active Light Cool to Warm White, and one Hive View camera. I'll be looking at the Hive View camera separately later in the review.
You can add to your smart home by purchasing additional Hive products. Other products available, but not included in any of the packs, include a dimmable bulb, a color bulb,and the Hive Camera.
With the exception of the two models of Hive cameras, all of the other Hive products require a Hive Hub. Rather than connecting directly to your Wi-Fi network, these products connect to the Hive Hub using the ZigBee wireless protocol. The Hive Hub connects to your wired Ethernet network and bridges the ZigBee products to the Internet.
Setup is very simple. You can create an account with your web browser at the Hive website, or you can download Android or iOS mobile apps. For those of you with an Apple Watch, there is also a Watch app.
If you don't create an account using your browser, you can create one within the Hive app on your mobile device. You are prompted for an email address and contact information. You'll get an activation link via email that will activate your Hive account.
Hive Welcome Home Hub
The first device you set up is the Hive Hub. Just connect it to your Ethernet wired network and apply power. Using either the Hive website or mobile app, just click on Hive Hub to install it as shown in the two screenshots below. You will be prompted for the six-digit number on the bottom of the hub. Enter it, and your Hive Hub will connect to the Hive servers. Note: After the initial connection, you may be prompted to allow a firmware upgrade.
Hive Welcome Home Hub Setup
Though not included in the printed Users guide, I found a key to the LEDs in one of the online FAQs.
Hive Welcome Home LED key
Next, just start installing your devices. Hive recommends that you install them one at a time. Just click on Install devices. The hub will start searching for unconfigured devices. A ten-minute countdown timer will appear on the screen along with a list of the devices discovered so far. For the two light bulbs, power them up one at a time. For the motion sensor and window/door sensors, just remove the plastic tab to activate the battery. For the Hive plug, just plug it into a grounded power socket. The Hive Active Thermostat needs to be installed into your cooling system before you can configure it.
After discovery, you'll have an opportunity to rename each device, or, you can skip renaming for now and rename them later. The two screenshots below show the starting of the discovery process and the completion of discovery of the five devices. All five devices were discovered in less than 10 minutes. Each device took slightly less than a minute to be discovered after powering up.