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Hive Active Thermostat

Hive Active Thermostat

Hive Active Thermostat

I saved the Hive Active Thermostat for last as it's the only product in the Welcome Home pack that I did not install and test. I already have a competing smart thermostat (Ecobee4) installed, and I didn't want to disrupt my heating system while it's cold outside.

Unlike the other smart thermostats on the market, the Hive Active Thermostat does not use Wi-Fi. Any interactions with the outside world, such as Alexa or notifications, are done through the Hive Hub. As with any smart thermostat, the installation is more complicated than your traditional consumer electronic product as it requires removal of your existing thermostat and installation of the new thermostat. However, Hive provides everything you need with the exception of a screwdriver.

All smart thermostats require a "C" wire in order to provide power. If your heating system runs on 24 VAC, but without the "C" (common, or ground return), you won't be able to power up your thermostat. You'll need to remove the cover from your current thermostat to determine which wires and terminals are currently connected. (It's also a good idea to snap a photo). Hive provides a widget on the thermostat product page that will help you to determine the compatibility of the Hive Active Thermostat and your heating/cooling system. The widget also provides a support email address and a phone number if you'd like to contact a "Hive Helper".

I contacted Hive and asked what to do if I don't have a C wire and they strongly recommended that I contact an HVAC technician or check with a hardware store for "add-a-wire" kits. They also provided a helpful link to a FAQ with two tested C wire solutions, but no link to their respective websites.

Once you determine that you are going to install the Hive Active Thermostat, you are instructed to remove the old thermostat. (Be sure to turn off the breaker to disconnect power from your HVAC system.) If the hole in your wall is larger than the Hive thermostat, you probably won't have to patch your wall. Hive thoughtfully included a plastic bezel.

Hive Welcome Home Pack Active Thermostat wall plate

Hive Welcome Home Pack Active Thermostat wall plate

Once you install the wall plate (if needed) you then attach the thermostat to the backplate using the screws and wall anchors provided. A convenient built-in level helps you to mount it straight.

Hive Welcome Home Pack Active Thermostat backplate

Hive Welcome Home Pack Active Thermostat backplate

Next, feed the wires through the hold in the backplate and connect them as detailed in the Quick start guide. Finally, snap the thermostat into place and restore power to your HVAC system. You finish your installation using either the Hive mobile apps or the Hive online dashboard. Just follow the "install devices" to pair the thermostat with your Hive Hub. After paring, follow the on-screen instructions.

The callouts below show you the layout of the front panel of the thermostat.

Hive Welcome Home Pack Active Thermostat callouts

Hive Welcome Home Pack Active Thermostat callouts

The Hive Active Thermostat supports daily schedules for heating and cooling. Though I don't have screenshots, I'm assuming it uses the same scheduling interface as found in all of the other products that use the Hive app. You can also set a vacation schedule so that when you return home, it will be at a comfortable temperature. Of course, you can change temperatures and schedules and view the current status of your Active Thermostat using your mobile devices remotely.

The Hive Active Thermostat lacks features found in other popular smart thermostats. There aren't any logging or tracking features to provide historical, graphical information on how your HVAC system is performing and how much money you are saving. It also lacks a motion sensor, so it can't tell whether you're home or away. The Ecobee4, for example, detects when you're away from home and can automatically enter a "Smart Away" mode that temporarily resets the temperature to save you money. Similarly, the Ecobee4 supports remote temperature sensors that can help you balance heating or cooling to avoid hot or cold spots in your home.

The Active Thermostat works with Alexa, but functionality is limited to setting temperatures. The Active Thermostat is included in the Welcome Home and Heading & Cooling Packs. If you purchase one of the other Packs, you can add the Hive Active Thermostat to your system for $179.99.

Alexa/Google Assistant Integration

Hive has an Alexa skill that lets you add the Hive Active Lights, Active Plug and Active Thermostat to Alexa. Currently, there is Google Assistant support for only the Hive Lights and the Plug. I installed the Hive Alexa skill and added the Hive device to the Google Home app, and both platforms recognized the three active products that I had installed. Both platforms correctly turned on and off each of three devices individually. I put the three devices into Groups (Alexa) or Rooms (Google Home), and all responded appropriately to voice commands, as well. The lights dimmed as expected using voice commands issued to either smart speaker.

Within the Alexa app, you can control your devices to turn them on/off, adjust brightness, and adjust color. However, I ran into a small problem with Alexa integration. Normally for other products like the TP-Link tunable bulbs, after issuing a voice command to change the bulbs settings, the status shown in the application is updated to match the new settings. When changing a setting on the Hive active devices by voice command, the change was executed properly, but the status within the Alexa app wasn't updated. Instead, the Alexa app reported there was a problem. I reported this problem to Hive Tech support.

Hive Welcome Home Pack - Alexa problem

Alexa integration problem

One other problem surfaced, but with Google Assistant integration. Within Alexa, you can change the color temperature of the bulb to one of the five presets below. Voice commands to Alexa for each of the supported presets changed the color temperature of the Hive bulbs as expected.

With Google Home, Soft White and Daylight White were not supported. In addition, the color temperatures between the two platforms differed. I issued a command to Alexa to set both of the Hive Active bulbs to Warm White and both lights changed to the same yellowish white color that you'd expect for 2700K. I then asked Google to set one of the bulbs to warm white, and the color of the light got significantly cooler.

Hive Welcome Home Pack - Alexa colors

Alexa supported presets for the Hive Active Light (Cool to Warm White)

IFTTT support

There are a handful of IFTTT applets for the Hive products: ten for the Active Lights, five the Hive Active Plug and 13 for the Hive Active Thermostat. Unfortunately, it looks like you can't create your own IFTTT applets any more.

For the Hive Active Plug, I modified an existing applet to turn on the plug at sunset. For the Active lights, I modified an applet to turn on one of the Hive bulbs as I approach home. Here's a partial list of my applets including one that emails the weather forecast at 8:00 am every morning. That one has been running for many years. It would be great if there were more Hive applets available that would give you more control over scheduling actions on your Hive active devices.

Hive Welcome Home IFTTT integration

Hive Welcome Home IFTTT integration
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