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Hive Active Heating 2 review

evan kypreos




  • Recommended by TR

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Hive Active Heating 2
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  • Hive 2 app
  • Hive app
  • Hive Active heating 2
  • Hive 2 vs Hive
  • Hive 2


Our Score:



  • Classy looks and slick interface
  • Simple but powerful app
  • Hot water control
  • Very robust connectivity


  • Thermostat upgrade mainly cosmetic
  • Professional installation required (but part of the price)

Key Features

  • Wireless thermostat
  • Browser, Android and iOS apps for remote thermostatic control
  • Location detection
  • Hive ecosystem support
  • Manufacturer: British Gas
  • Review Price: £249.00

Update: Hive now supports IFTTT (If this then that). This means that Hive owners can now create recipes that trigger the Hive to behave in specific ways. For example, with BMW, you could trigger your heating to come on when you’re leaving work. Or with the Strava cycling and fitness app you can trigger your hot water to come on when you’re a couple of miles away from home.

What is Hive Active Heating 2?

It was cold, I was waiting at the airport on my way to tropical climes when I remembered I hadn’t turned off my heating. I was going to be away for two weeks and my boiler would keep warming an empty house, wasting energy and clocking up a high bill. After a few seconds in the Hive app, it was all sorted. And that was the moment I got the point of smart thermostats.

The Hive 2 is an evolution rather than a reinvention of British Gas’s original basic, but functional, smart thermostat. If you already have the first-gen Hive then you can upgrade to Hive 2 for £99 and continue using the exact same Hive mobile app you were using before. That means you get the same functionality – remote heating controls, scheduling and location tracking.

What the Hive 2 brings to the table is a much slicker thermostat brimming with pretty lights and a simplified interface. Well, in some ways at least.

This feels a lot more like a product I’d expect to see within a smart home, especially when compared to its rather ugly, white-plastic predecessor.

Hive 2 vs Hive

The new thermostat (right) is much prettier, huh?

Hive Active Heating 2 – Setup and Design

If you don’t already have Hive installed then you need to pay £249 for the package and to have it connected to your boiler. There’s no subscription fee, though, and you don’t need to be a British Gas customer to take advantage of it. It’s also compatible with the vast majority of boilers used in the UK, but you can’t be sure until the installer arrives.

Hive Active Heating 2 17

I have one boiler and one heating zone, so installation took just over an hour including a 10-minute tour of how to use the system.

The Hive 2 Active Heating can control multiple areas of your home via Hive Multizone. Each additional zone costs £99 and installation for Multizone homes could take longer. Unlike Honeywell’s Evohome, this doesn’t manage individual radiators via valve controls but instead looks after entire areas of the home.

Like most smart thermostat systems, the Hive 2 comes in three parts. The first is a small Wi-Fi controller attached to the boiler, the second a hub attached by Ethernet to your router, and the third is the thermostat itself. The Hive Hub lets the thermostat talk to the boiler and connects it to the internet for control via a smartphone or tablet. It also allows you to control the rest of the family of Hive products, such as the Hive Active Plug and sensor, if you want to buy into the whole ecosystem.

Hive Active heating 2

As with all things that require a Wi-Fi connection, you need to consider where your router is located in relation to the thermostat and boiler. If the distance is too great or the Wi-Fi signal too intermittent, you should consider getting a Wi-Fi booster – Hive sells one as an add-on, but we haven’t tested it yet.

I’ve found the system to be extremely robust. I used the first Hive system for more than a year and have spent the last three months using the new Hive 2. In all that time I haven’t experienced a single issue – it’s always been connected and accessible.

The upgrade installation was a doddle, too. The new thermostat arrived and I added four AA batteries and used the app to connect it. It took just a few minutes to get it working.

Hive Active Heating 2 35

The Hive Hub and controller aren’t particularly pretty, but as they can be hidden away behind the router or by the boiler this doesn’t matter much. The thermostat, on the other hand, is stylish and comes with interchangeable edges so you can colour-code it to your home’s decor. The mirror-effect is pretty, although it does show up fingerprints.

As there are no cables needed you can place the Hive thermostat anywhere, and with looks like this you’ll want to give it pride of place.

You’ll need to screw the baseplate into the wall first, but, annoyingly, the holes don’t match up to the previous model. If you’re upgrading you'll be left with an unsightly hole in the wall. Time to get the Polyfilla and Dulux out of the shed...

Hive 2

A small hole remains where the previous Hive thermostat was placed

Hive Active Heating 2 – App, Controls and Features

The Hive 2 is very intuitive to use. Press the dial and you get the current temperature, press it again and colourful lights give you a target temperature you can raise or lower by twisting the knob.

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The Menu, Done and Back buttons will make it easy to handle for anyone who’s used an Android phone, and they enable you to tweak settings and the schedule. It’s not quite as easy to get to grips with for those not of a techy disposition. My 84-year-old father, who doesn’t own a smartphone, could just about use the first Hive thermostat but can’t get to grips with the Hive 2.

There are two additional buttons on the top edge of the thermostat. One gives quick access to the heating controls, and the other to the hot water settings. I have a combination boiler, but if you have a hot water tank you can have the Hive control that separately. Few other smart heating systems let you do this.

Hive Active Heating 2 21

While the Hive 2 thermostat looks great, I hardly ever use it. I almost exclusively access my heating using the excellent Hive app.

This has evolved over the years into something simple to use, and it comes with some great one-touch features such as Holiday mode.

You can boost the heating for an hour from the app’s Heating Control homescreen or delve a little deeper to set up a schedule or adjust the geolocation settings.

Hive app

The schedule lets you set up six time zones throughout the day. These can be tailored differently for every day of the week or you can set one and copy the times to the rest. It’s a simple system, but one with plenty of depth. Hive 2 app

When Hive first launched it didn’t come with a location service. That was a major omission, but the feature has since been added and brings Hive a lot closer to the leading products from the likes of Nest, Tado and Honeywell.

Now Hive knows when you’re leaving or coming back home, thanks to location tracking via your phone. You can tweak the settings so that the heating turns down when you’re a certain number of miles away or turns up when you’re on the way home.

Should I buy the Hive Active Heating 2?

A year ago I'd have told you to opt for Nest or Tado, but British Gas has significantly improved its Hive Active Heating System. Additional features like location detection and Holiday mode put it on par with the competition, while the stylish thermostat and slick app mean it’s more attractive than ever.

Quite how much you save will depend entirely on the size of your home and how warm you like it. I’ve seen financial savings of around 10% since I’ve been using it, but my family likes a toasty house. Of course, using the heating less is also good for the environment.

There are other benefits to owning any smart thermostat, though. I find my house has a more uniform temperature – my family no longer gets too cold or too warm, and if we do it’s easy enough to sort out from the comfort of the bed or the sofa, thanks to the app.


Hive is both easy to use and powerful. It's come on leaps and bounds over the past year and is now a smart thermostat system we’d recommend, even though the Multizone aspect isn’t quite as nuanced as it is with Honeywell’s Evohome.

Overall Score



July 15, 2015, 2:37 pm

They really should integrate smart thermostats into this system; that would make a really well-rounded smart 'stat. I wouldn't envisage it being too complex an addition, considering the already existing multi-zone support.

One question regarding smart bulbs of BG and potential others is how lighting works in rooms with spotlights/down-lights. I've only seen smartbulbs for traditional 60w ceiling bulbs that are quite bulky. I imagine replacing all 12 spots in my kitchen would be extremely cost-prohibitive.

Overall does the Hive support integration of alternative solutions, like a smartplug that isn't Hive branded?
What's the best solution if I want an open standard that would support a Hive smart plug and a Nest smoke detector with Apple smartbulbs for example?

I want a future home!


July 15, 2015, 6:42 pm

All good questions. From the sounds of things, BG seems to be planning a largely closed ecosystem with select partners joining in, so it might not be the most open system.

That said, this is where things like HomeKit come in. If it supports the standard in future, that would allow third-party accessories to interact with the system to a limited degree and get stuff to work together.

So far it seems like uptake on HomeKit is quite slow because the requirements are quite stringent – just as well since you want stuff to actually work properly.

There are quite a few unknowns, but I'd probably choose Hive over Nest personally. I think the learning element of Nest is far too reliant on where you put the thermostat, since the sensors are in it.

I guess what would be interesting, for example, would be if Hive used the motion sensors it's launching to determine when people are in the home. They didn't talk about that at the event – they focussed on triggering things like lights – but it's the logical thing to do.


July 16, 2015, 6:59 am

A dreadfully cramped and clunky interface, and you have to replumb your house to get multi-zone heating.
Evohome wins hands down but barely gets a mention on here.


July 16, 2015, 8:29 am

My problem with the Evohome is it doesn't really seem that 'smart' to me. Yes, the individual rad valve controls are an excellent feature and make the system very granular, however the entire system is based on your programming every room by every hour of every day.
I don't know about you but I'm simply not that regular in terms of when I'm in or what I'm doing in what room.
Honeywell argue that dropping and raising the temperature of a house as when you are in is not economical, however if that is the case you possibly don't need a smart thermostat because you can set a normal 'stat to keep your house at a certain temperature and use rad valves to control each room.

Systems like Nest and Hive could easily integrate smart rad valves in future, and I'd be very surprised if they don't. Also, I disagree that the interface is either cramped or clunky. It's a simple interface for a simple task.

To me the smart thermostat is a good place to start to a fairly smart home. In something like the Hive you can integrate bulbs and sensors and plugs and manage it all from one place. There's the possibility to make it even smarter and say when kitchen sensor is tripped switch on the kitchen light, utility lights, underfloor heating and radio socket. Evohome seems more about controlling radiators than anything else.


July 16, 2015, 8:38 am

Thanks for the response.

Hmmm, I'm a little put off by HomeKit, but only because it's an Apple technology that is bound to create overpriced and restricted devices. They patent some good tech, but it's always restricted by price.

Excuse me if I missed it, but how is Hive different in terms of 'learning'. What external sensors make a difference to Nest. I assume you're not talking about the temperature element, more smartplugs & smartbulbs?

These systems have massive potential with very little further development (to the uninitiated!).


July 16, 2015, 9:12 am

Nest calls it a 'presence' sensor, but it's basically an IR sensor in the thermostat that people in the home. But it's just one sensor, so if it's the hallway and you spend the whole morning in your home office, how does it know you're home?

Hive doesn't have any of this, so it's mainly focussed on managing your schedule, reporting on usage and managing remotely.


July 16, 2015, 10:19 am


Sounds as though Hive has great potential, if they release more sensors and options (like light switches and bulbs etc) in the near future.


July 28, 2015, 8:27 pm

Sometimes I think the control manufactures in general are simply pandering to control freaks, those that have nothing better to do then to be on their phones to turn on the lighting moments before they arrive on the doorstep and making a fortune from upgrading perfectly adequate though fairly basic existing systems that will be set up once and forgotten about.

"Honeywell argue that dropping and raising the temperature of a house as when you are in is not economical" Let me say there are generally two modes of operation, intermittent where a system will operate for specified periods and temperature controlled, or constant whereby it operates 24/7 again with temperature control, the choice will depend mainly on occupancy rates.
Hospitals/ Care homes will fall into the constant category, very very rarely if ever would someones home utilise anything but a system operating intermittently unless of course the design was flawed.

What's required is dealing with the fundamental issues if one is serious about energy efficient operation rather then an ability to operate your inherently wasteful system from the other side of the world. Whats required is to mimic the commercial system design by zoning between dhw, living room and bedroom circuits, these should be time and temperature controlled and for those space heating circuits (and not the dhw circuit I stress should there be one rather then a combi).........the flow should be 'compensated', i.e. whereby the temperature in the heating circuits varies as a function of an outside air sensor.

Yes, let the system essentially be controlled by an external 'thermostat', how radical is that, as it happens not radical at all and if its integral for control in practically every commercial building around the world it should be good enough for anyone.

I'd like to make the point that the vast majority of modern boilers that inhabit our homes can/do operate in a condensing mode, problem is that as soon as the return water temperature hits 60C condensing which has been reducing rapidly finally ceases. Yes the boiler has an enhanced heat exchanger and is likely to be deemed 'high efficient' but is it anywhere near its potential when condensing ceases, well no it isn't and thats the issue that people ought to be focusing on because, efficiency drops significantly.

So can you claw back that efficiency loss, well yes you can, especially if your boiler is a combination boiler and your system has remained the same while you've insulated and double glazed because that will allow you to reduce the flow temperature to ensure condensing will invariably occur in all but the most inclement of conditions when you'll have to resort to turning up the flow temperature.


April 30, 2016, 10:31 pm

It sounds like you need a system with smart lightswitches, rather than individual smart bulbs. Some systems have them (e.g. LightwaveRF)


June 18, 2016, 11:14 am

Ewan Kypreos
You mentioned it is a doddle to install.....we have the single zone and want the multi zone as it was not available. British Gas is saying that it is obsolete and we need a completely new package. Our house is already dual zone re plumbing. So what is the difference in the thermostat? By your review may be I am wrong but batteries and app seem to convert to dual....please advise.


January 21, 2017, 5:26 pm

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I had the Hive system installed because Delta Dore was so awful. For the first couple of weeks I was delighted but things have gone downhill rapidly. I have separate water, heating, 3 motion sensors and 3 lamps. As I type the heating, water, 1 motion sensor and 1 lamp have been offline for 3 days. On two occasions I have tried to access the system when not in the house. On both occasion it has been offline and I came home to a cold house.

On one morning in December I awoke to no hot water for a shower.

Twice I have called Hive to help. they talked me through the same reset procedure, which I now know by heart, which worked for a day or two before problems again. It's been two months now and I'm really starting to wish I just stuck with switches on the wall.

I have two sensors that I dare not install....

Dave Franklin

February 27, 2017, 7:31 pm

Complete and utter toilet - drops out at least twice a week and never when you are at home so utterly useless. Read through the multitude of dissatisfied customers who, like me, have been utterly duped by polished marketing for a dog turd of a product sprinkled with glitter!

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