I’ve had the British Gas heating control system for quite a while now, since April 2013 in fact when it was first introduced. See our review here. Back then it was called simply enough the British Gas remote heating control. It wasn’t particularly pretty but it did the job well enough.
Later it was re-branded Hive (no idea why they changed the name) and a new version launched, complete with hot water control. You can see our review here. Unlike the previous unit which looked and felt like an old fashioned heating thermostat, Hive 1 looked much more like a small web tablet, albeit one without a colour display or touch screen controls.
Now Hive has been upgraded with a brand new look again. This time it’s much more like the Google Nest system which is its closest rival in the UK. However, unlike the Nest thermostat which is a circular device with a rotary dial on the outside for control, Hive 2 is a neatly styled, square-shaped control unit in a reflective chrome finish.
Heating and hot water control are provided by turning the small rotary dial in the middle (this can also be pushed in to confirm selections) and there are three subtly marked buttons at the bottom which light up in when in use for back, menu and confirm options. A colour display is provided which shows the actual temperature as well as the target temperature plus there is a display at the top showing the hot water and central heating schedule.
On top of the unit are two ‘boost’ buttons to switch the central heating and hot water on immediately for up to six hours – handy if you decide you want to have a bath or shower but haven’t programmed the hot water to come on.
For owners of the original Hive, setting up the Hive 2 is relatively straightforward. You have to take the old thermostat off the wall, making sure you take the batteries out so that when you go through the set up process (see YouTube video below) – a process taking about 10 minutes or so – you don’t end up setting the old device up again. You will also need to drill two new holes into the wall on which to mount the Hive 2 because (slightly annoyingly) it is a different size and shape to the former device.
Unlike the previous unit which was quite difficult to program, the Hive 2 is much more intuitive thanks to the central rotary dial and the three buttons on the bottom which take you through the various menu options. Indeed, it’s perfectly possible to schedule all of your heating and hot water requirements without resorting to your Hive Home account on the computer or via the smart phone app. However, I prefer to use the computer because I find it slightly easier to use the sliding scales to adjust the heating schedules and change the temperatures.
All in all, the Hive 2 is a great bit of kit. It looks lovely and is much easier to use than the previous device. It has also been designed to work in conjunction with a range of other connected home products which are due to launch very soon.
These these include Hive Active Plugs (to control appliances remotely via the Hive app), Hive Motion Sensors (to detect movement in your home if you are away), Hive Window and Door Sensors (fairly self explanatory that one) and Hive Active Lights so you can turn lights on and off from wherever you are in the world so that it looks like your home is occupied even if it’s not. We look forward to testing some of these Hive products in due course.
The Hive 2 is available to buy for £99 for existing Hive customers. For new Hive customers it costs £249 including installation.
Watch how to upgrade from Hive 1 to Hive 2 in this YouTube video below: