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BATTLE OF THE SMART THERMOSTATS - NEST VS HIVE

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Advances in thermostat technology allow you to have complete control of your central heating at home at the touch of a button. The Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) and Hive are at the top of the smart thermostat game and boast a healthy selection of designs and features. Now it’s time to pin the two most sought after smart thermostats against each other. Who’s going to come out on top?

Design

In terms of design, the Nest receives top marks for its circular structure surrounded in a metal rim and a glass front, which is sure to be a topic of conversation once in full view on your wall. In line with the circular design, you can adjust temperature in an instant simply by twisting the entire device and pushing in the thermostat to activate your heating settings.

The Hive has recently adopted huge improvements in design, as well as additional coloured frames to suit your decor. However, unlike the Nest, it comes with a few buttons as well as a main dial to adjust your temperature settings and navigate its interface, which, quite frankly, make it look like, well, a standard heating control. Point for the Nest.

Features

Each thermostat is compatible with most (if not all) gas systems, while the only difference is how they connect with a boiler. Both thermostats are reliant on a component that talks to the boiler, which Hive describes as a “Receiver”, and the Nest as a “Heat Link”. The thermostat is simply the control for this box to alter heating and hot water settings.

The Nest offers an easier, laid-back approach to setting your schedule with its auto-learning features. The thermostat records your activity and settings on a day-to-day basis and creates a schedule based on your preferences. The Hive is a more manual option, which lacks the self-learning element but still offers easy-to-use controls through their app, or on the device itself.

Each thermostat offers the use of smartphone apps to easily control their systems at home or away. A big difference between the two is the scheduling feature. The Nest starts slightly hit and miss with its automatic schedule configuration until it gets used to your home. The Hive is completely manual, so you will have to go ahead and make tweaks over time. Nest and Hive both make data security their number one priority. Each manufacturer takes pride in their use of encryption and multiple security layers to protect your data, whilst also continuing the search for further vulnerabilities.

Unfortunately, the Hive app offers far less in terms of multiple zone support. The Nest’s app supports up to 20 zones, while each zone is controlled by a Nest Thermostat. You will also benefit from Nest’s Family Accounts, where the owner of the Nest can set up a main account and invite up to 10 people to gain full access to the app’s controls and reports. What person would ever grant 10 people access to your home’s heating remains a mystery to us but, hey, who are we to judge? The Hive only offers up to 3 zones using the multi-zone feature within their app. However, despite customers crying out for a family support feature, you are only able to set up one account for the Hive app. This leads to further issues with families having to share login details rather than being able to set up individual accounts.

Both devices benefit from presence detection, which is a great feature that will save you money in the long run. The Hive app took advantage of geolocation right from the start, which simply alerts the thermostat once you’ve passed a certain distance parameter of your home. These parameters are called geo-fences, and after an update in 2016, Nest’s app now allows users to start sharing location information with their thermostat. This feature lets both the Nest and Hive know when you’ve left home and automatically changes your thermostat’s settings. However, the Nest does have the upper hand with its motion sensor, which simply flashes up information on its display once you walk past the device or alters your heating settings if it detects that no one is at home. Unfortunately, with the Hive, you have to buy motion sensors separately to use this feature.

With all the features of the two thermostats considered, the Nest is a clear favourite and scores yet another point!

Installation

Can the Hive catch up? Let’s find out! The main difference between the two devices is that the Nest needs to be constantly wired. The Hive makes placement a lot easier, with only 4 AA batteries and placement on any wall of your choice with a two-year battery life. However, the Nest must be plugged into a wall socket and use a stand, or replace the existing wiring for your old wall-mounted thermostat. Each device can be self-installed along with some basic DIY skills.

You can also get these devices professionally installed by an engineer, which will cost a little extra. The Hive wins its first point for its portability! In case you didn’t know, we will never charge you for installing a smart thermostat and walk you through its features and how it works, thereby saving you between £60-80 compared to others.

Accessories

Nest offer a home security camera and a smoke alarm, which are both compatible with their thermostat. These additional devices act as an extension to the Nest’s thermostat capabilities, with the ability to track motion when you enter a room and facial identification too through the cameras. The smoke alarm, when paired with the thermostat, switches off the heating once smoke is detected to eliminate any increased risks from radiators being fully heated. You will also benefit from the use of third-party products using Nest’s very own "Works With Nest" feature. One of the best examples is the Phillips Hue system, which allows you to use your Nest thermostat to switch on Hue lighting. However, there’s a lot more to it than just switching lights on and off. The Nest automates these lights to change colour based on your thermostat’s temperature: it blinks if smoke is detected or automates your lights to switch on and off while you’re away for security.

Hive, in turn, disappoints on the third-party accessory front, but they do offer a range of Hive-branded devices that are all compatible with their thermostat. These include their own motion sensors and smart lights, which can all be controlled via their app. The main issue with their devices is the lack of flexibility. For instance, you’re unable to switch off the lights via a switch, so you’re restricted to only using the app or their own motion sensor. Another downside Hive has compared to the Nest is that the latter has a motion sensor built in, which means you won’t have the same capabilities with the Hive unless you buy the Hive motion sensor separately.

Yes, you probably guessed it, Nest gets yet another point.

Verdict

The Nest thermostat wins with 3 points! Unfortunately, the Hive only managed to score 1 point but will the Nest meet its match soon?

Both devices are closely priced. Hive offer an exclusive bundle for a total of £249, which includes installation by a professional and the device itself. If you fancied going down the standalone route, the Hive will set you back £179, while the Nest comes in at £199. If you’re not prepared to install the device yourself, you still have installation options for the Nest for around £60+ pushing the Nest slightly higher in price.

The Hive is still the perfect choice if you’re looking for a smart thermostat that gives you the same manual control over your heating. There’s no denying that the Hive app’s scheduling and geo-location features are an easy selling point for the device, but the Nest is clearly a better choice if you’re looking for a thermostat that can be left to self-learn while also showing the same features the Hive has. The Nest’s support for families, additional accessories and their fairly new geo-location feature makes it the perfect addition to any family home looking for a smarter future.

 Nest (3rd Gen)Hive
Price£199 (or £279 with install)£179 (or £249 with install)
DesignStainless steel/copper/black/whiteOptional Dulux frames (12 colour options)
RequirementsBroadband connection, accessNet app, latest version of web browsers (Safari, Chrome & IE)Broadband connection (spare Ethernet port required on router), computer or tablet with broadband connection
ZonesUp to 20Up to 3
Voice ControlAmazon Echo Alexa, Google HomeAmazon Echo Alexa, Google Home
Warranty2 years2 years