For the longest time Google’s Nest appliance has been the frontrunner in the smart thermostat market. Developed by a household name, and with a stylish, modern design, it’s not hard to see why. However, as the industry grows it also innovates, and new products are constantly emerging to challenge Nest for the top spot.
Alongside names such as Tado and Honeywell, the newest contender is Hive Active Heating – a similarly sleek smart thermostat created by British Gas. As more of these options become available, one question emerges clear: “which is best, Nest vs Hive?”.
Why should I install a smart thermostat?
If the term ‘smart thermostat’ is new to you, you may be wondering what the benefit of one could possibly be – after all, surely the classic thermostat model can control your home’s heating just fine.
The main perk of installing a smart thermostat like Nest or Hive Active Heating is that you can monitor how much energy you’re using and, importantly, how you’re using it throughout the house. This information allows you to do two things:
- Reduce your wasted energy, lowering your negative environmental impact.
- Save you money.
How do smart thermostats work?
The principle that drives smart thermostat technology, and that’s at the heart of the Nest vs Hive debate, is that by having more control over your home’s heating set-up you can prevent energy wastage. It does this through various means:
- Connecting to home appliances, such as heaters, combi boilers and even ground source pumps.
- Monitoring how these appliances are being used, for how long, when, etc.
- Identifying if you’re in your home by either connecting with the GPS in your phone or linking with motion sensors that you can place in different rooms.
- Allowing you to turn on the heating on a room-by-room basis, preventing you from wasting energy on rooms that don’t need the heat.
- Enabling you to remotely control your heating settings, even when you’re not in the home. This is great if you find yourself leaving the house in a rush often, and forget to turn off the heating while you’re at work.
- Establishing automatic settings. This will tell your heating system to adapt to the weather on warm summer days or cold winter nights.
Nest vs Hive – Common Features
Both products in the Nest vs Hive debate have a lot of unique features, but understandably they also share a lot of each other’s basic functionality.
At a core level, both smart thermostats allow you to control your heating appliances by connecting to your smartphone, laptop or tablet. Both will also allow you to programme schedules for your heating, as well as notice when the temperature drops to a considerably low degree. This prevents your pipes from freezing during the winter.
Both gadgets can track your position relative to the home via GPS technology, and display a plethora of information via their clear, stylish screens. You can also mount them on any wall, although the Google Nest can also be set up on top of a flat surface too if you prefer that.
What are the strengths of the Nest Thermostat?
While Hive Active Heating is compatible with Gas or LPG central heating systems and a select few electric boilers, the Nest can interface with a much larger variety. The list includes:
- System boilers and heat-only boilers
- OpenTherm based heating systems
- Hot water tanks
- Combi boilers
- Hydronic underfloor systems
- Air- and ground-source heat pumps
The Nest comes with either a two year or one year long warranty, depending on which package you prefer. The Hive, by comparison, only carries one for a single year. That being said the Nest’s warranty is limited. So, if you decide the Nest is the more suitable option for you it’s worth doing a little research into the specifics of the warranty.
You can find out more by visiting the Nest website here.
Learning Ability – Automation
The learning ability of each device in the Nest vs Hive debate is vastly different, and one isn’t categorically better than the other. While the Nest favours a more automated approach, the Hive focuses on learning how to regulate your home heating through precise manual input. Go here to find out which smart thermostat’s learning ability is the right fit for you.
In Nest’s case, it works by monitoring how your home uses heat for the first week and then begins to adapt to it. This allows it to know ahead of time how hot or cold you’ll need certain areas of the house (or ‘zones’) and adapt accordingly.
Therefore, actual management needed is minimal – highly useful for the busy professional or dutiful parent that wouldn’t mind a little extra help staying on top of running the house.
The answer to the Nest vs Hive question is clear as day here: where the Hive can set up 3 different heating zones throughout a house the Nest can register up to a staggering 20.
What’s more, the Nest can even manage zones in a second property, so you can potentially manage the heating in your domestic home and a holiday home if you have one.
By contrast, this category is a lot closer. Both options integrate fully with Alexa, while the Nest alone also has Google Home functionality on top of that.
What are the strengths of Hive Active Heating?
Price and Installation
This factor may be a closely fought race, but when it comes to smart thermostats the end goal is to save as much as you can – and that includes at the point of purchase.
|Price||£150-£200||£179 (+£99 for Hive Multizone)|
|Installation Cost||Up to £100||£70|
While the upper boundary for Hive’s full cost of purchase and installation can be more than Nest, the regular package that most homeowners will pick comes in just under. Without the Multizone option, you can save between £1 to £51, the higher end of which is a significant saving.
Learning Ability – Manual Control
As we discussed earlier, the most subjective factor in the Nest vs Hive question is how the thermostat learns to adapt to each individual residence.
Hive Acting Heating leads in this category due to a much higher level of flexibility. Nest thermostats must be plugged in to a mains power supply, meaning that despite the fact it can technically be mounted anywhere it does have to be mounted near an electrical supply.
On the other hand, Hive systems run on AA batteries, which British Gas ensures should last the appliance for up to two years until they need replacing.
Again, a subjective entry, but Hive technically has more aesthetic options to choose from than Nest. A full breakdown of the the design possibilities for Nest vs Hive can be found below:
|Screen||Clearer. Lights up when it detects you entering the room.||Must press the screen to see information.|
|Colour options||Stainless Steel/Copper/Black/White||Dark Grey, but the frame comes with 12 different colours to choose from.|
Nest vs Hive: Who is the Winner?
Despite the slightly longer list of positives in Nest’s favour, the nature of Hive’s strengths being in areas such as price, aesthetics and placement in the home mean that the answer becomes less clear cut.
Overall, there seems to be two ways of looking at which is better.
- Simplicity: Due to its slightly cheaper price point (on average), its more customisable visual elements and its ability to be mounted anywhere, Hive Active Heating is the option for someone who wants a simple, personalised smart thermometer.
- Functionality: The slightly more tech-savvy option, Nest has a deeper set of features, a wider level of compatibility and intelligent automation. If you’re looking for a higher end smart thermostat, this is the one for you.
How can I get the most out of my choice?
No matter which smart thermostat you choose, it’s critical that you make sure to keep your boiler or heating system in top-tier shape.
If your system has been installed for coming up to a decade, it may be worth replacing it before you spend on smart technology to run it. At this age boilers become much more inefficient and as such expend a lot more energy to produce continually less warmth over time.
Quotatis has a series of articles about how to check if your boiler is still in peak shape. Click here for tips on how to properly maintain your boiler in the winter, here to learn what to do in case it breaks down, and here to know what steps to take in case its pressure gets too low.