Hive or Nest – Which is better?

Hive and Nest are two of the most popular smart thermostat options out there and for good reason. They both comprise some of the most forward-thinking technology in eco-friendly heating management.

Surprisingly, despite dominating the industry, neither were created by the traditional heating control companies. Nest is the creation of tech giants Google, and they are doing what they do best with innovative design and function. Hive, on the other hand, is the creation of household energy providers British Gas, who have levelled the playing field with their smart thermostat equivalent.

In the UK, 1.67 million homes already use smart thermostats and this is increasing every year. Evidently, these smart devices are becoming more and more popular. Not only can they help to save you money (which we cover in more detail below), but it has also been reported that if all UK homes used smart thermostats we could reduce up to 18.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

In this article, we are going to dive into everything that you need to know about each of these smart thermostat options, with a particular focus on the Hive Active Heating thermostat and the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Which is better Hive or Nest?

Nest is better as it is compatible with more types of boilers and has more features than the Hive smart thermostat option.

However, there are many features that are synonymous across both brands, and the additional features offered by Nest may not be important to you and your needs. Although Nest performs well, there are plenty of selling points that make Hive a worthy competitor.

Why install a smart thermostat

Nest smart thermostat

It is no surprise that the smart thermostat has grown in popularity over the past few years. They allow you to heat your home as and when you need as well as your hot water.

Long gone are the days when you would worry about leaving the heating on by mistake. A smart thermostat allows you to have complete control over your heating and hot water usage, and do so with next to no waste.

You can now decide exactly how and when to heat your home at any moment from any location, through a convenient app that links to your phone or tablet. Or even through a voice-controlled smart device like Amazon Alexa!

In addition to this, using a smart thermostat really offers some valuable and smart features. For example, being able to adjust to weather conditions to avoid freezing pipes. This could avoid a lot of heartache and cost, especially for those that might have a second home, since you can manage these features remotely.

You can save time, money, and energy with a smart thermostat and benefit both the environment and your back pocket.

Will a Hive or Nest thermostat save you money?

Smart thermostats save you money

Using a smart thermostat, whether it be a Hive Active Heating thermostat or a Nest Learning thermostat, certainly has the potential to help you save money. They allow you to have a greater level of control over your energy use, and thus potentially use much less, which will reduce your overall energy bills.

It has been reported that on average you can save £154 per year by using a smart thermostat and monitoring your energy use.

The ability to heat individual rooms, also known as zones, means that you will only pay to heat the areas that you need. In addition to this, you can benefit from efficient heating that you can turn off at the touch of a button.

When all is said and done, both Hive and Nest are tools that can help you to save money. However, ultimately, it will be down to you to make the most of this.

Hive vs Nest – a quick summary

For those looking for a brief overview, here is a quick breakdown of the main features of the Hive Active Heating 2nd Generation thermostat and the Nest Learning 3rd Generation thermostat.

Hive Active Heating 2nd GenerationNest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation
PriceApprox £249 with professional installation. Approx £179 if installing yourself. Approx £99 if you become a British Gas customer.Approx £249 with professional installation. Approx £199 if installing yourself
Installation costApprox £70.Approx £80.
Central heating compatibilityMost gas & LPG boilers, oil burners with existing thermostat & electric boilers. (explained further below)Most central heating systems.
Battery4 x AA batteriesBuilt-in rechargeable connected to the mains.
DesignSquare shape, central dial and 3 buttons. Choice of 12 coloured framesRound shape, touch screen, dial around the device to modify the temperature
MountingBackplate that thermostat hooks onto either the wall or free-standing.Wall-mounted.
Voice controlYes.Yes.
Remote controlYes.Yes.
Smart device compatibilityGoogle Home, Amazon Alexa & Apple Home Kit.Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Home Kit & Siri.
Multiple zones compatibility3 zones.20 zones.
Power consumptionLess than 1kW/month.Less than 1kW/month.
Warranty1-year.2-3 years depending on the model.

Hive or Nest – Features

Hive thermostat features

Hive and Nest are the most popular smart thermostat brands in the UK and both offer some great features, many of which are synonymous across both brands. Before we dive into features unique to each device, let’s look at some that are relevant to both makes.

Remote and voice control management features

Both Hive and Nest offer remote and voice control management options through downloadable apps, websites, and smart devices. This means that you can control the temperature in your house, even when you’re not there, reducing your overall energy waste.

They are also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home and will recognise voice commands, for ultimate convenience. You are able to set alerts and have them turn the heating on for you.

Frost detection feature

Both of these popular smart thermostats have an integrated frost detection safety feature that will prevent your pipes from freezing.

They are able to recognise a drop in the temperature, and automatically turn the heating up slightly to avoid any potential damage. This can be a great peace of mind if you have a second home, or are away from your home and unable to do it yourself.

GPS tracking feature

Both Hive and Nest utilise GPS tracking so that they can respond to your location. Your geolocation alerts your thermostat when you have passed a certain distance from your home. This parameter is referred to as a geo-fence.

By sharing your location information with your thermostat, you don’t need to worry that you have left your heating on when you’re not home and are not benefiting from it as it will automatically change the thermostat settings.

Data security feature

Hive and Nest both pride themselves on their advanced data security. This is a feature that they are constantly improving and developing and involves multiple security layers and encryption.

To get the most benefit from a smart thermostat then it needs to know information about your energy use and habits, and it’s reassuring to know that this information and data will be kept private.

Whilst there are plenty of features that both Nest and Hive share, there are also quite a few that are unique to each option.

Nest features

Nest benefits from Google’s ingenuity and offers a learning feature that is able to learn your home heating habits and adjust accordingly. This allows your thermostat to create bespoke schedules based on actual energy usage. Initially, this can be a bit hit or miss, but over time, when a routine is established it can be a handy feature.

In addition to the geolocation feature and ability to track your distance from your home, Nest also has a built-in motion sensor to detect exactly when you are home. This means that you will never heat an empty house. This motion sensor also activates the Farsight feature. The thermostat will automatically light up when you enter the room for a quick-look temperature, time, and weather check.

Nest allows you to heat up to 20 individual rooms, also known as zones. If you are only using one part of your home or even just one room, you can create zones on the Nest Learning thermostat. This means that instead of heating your whole house on a cold day, you can heat up the actual room that you are in. This could really reduce your heating expenses over the year.

Hive features

One of the biggest differences between Hive and Nest is that Hive does not offer as many features as Nest.

Unlike Nest, Hive does not offer the self-learning element. However, it can still be easily set manually, which you can do directly from your phone. You can easily tweak your thermostat and heating use, as and when you need it.

Hive doesn’t automatically provide the automotive motion sensor feature within their thermostat device. However, they do sell motion sensors separately, so it is still possible to enjoy this feature. They also sell various other devices that are compatible with the thermostat such as leak monitors and lights.

Hive does offer the same zone feature that Nest provides. However, they only have a maximum of 3 zones instead of 20. But depending on your needs, this may be plenty.

Hive or Nest – Heating compatibility

This will probably be the biggest deciding factor when choosing between a Hive or Nest smart thermostat. Not all heating systems are compatible with these smart thermostat options.

Both are compatible with most gas, oil, LPG, and electric boilers. Nevertheless, it is always worth double-checking beforehand that your model will be compatible with your chosen smart thermostat.

Nest – Heating compatibility

A Nest smart thermostat communicates to the boiler through a communicator called a heat link. The thermostat itself acts as the control.

Here is a list of boilers that the Nest Learning 3rd Generation Thermostat is compatible with:

  • Gas boiler
  • Oil boiler
  • LPG boiler
  • Electric boiler
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Biomass boilers
  • Domestic hot water tank (for hot water temp control and OpenTherm technology only)

Hive – Heating compatibility

A Hive smart thermostat communicates to the boiler via a communicator called a receiver. The thermostat itself also acts as the control.

Here is a list of boilers that the Hive Active Heating 2nd Generation thermostat is compatible with:

  • Gas boiler
  • Oil boiler
  • LPG boiler
  • Electric boiler
  • Domestic hot water tanks (can turn on & off only, no temperature control).

Hive or Nest – Usability

Hive or nest - which is better?

Both Hive and Nest provide ultra usability. Long gone are the days when you had to fiddle around with buttons and dials in person and hope that you didn’t leave the heating on. These smart thermostats have been designed and created for a high quality user experience.

They are both programmed with the IFTTT acronym. This translates to “if this then that”, which enables you to set your thermostat in a very personal, specific manner.

It is also important to note that even though both these thermostats can offer automotive, remote, and voice control capabilities, you are still able to set your heating preferences on the thermostat itself as you would a traditional one.

Nest – Usability

In addition to the above, Nest also provides the option of a family account in which you can invite up to 10 people to access the app controls and reports. This means that several people in your household can individually operate the heating preferences.

Hive – Usability

The Hive app has one account, however, you can easily share the login details amongst those in your home.

Hive or Nest – Design

When it comes to appearance it completely depends on personal preference. However, both Hive and Nest offer a smart and modern design to suit any home.

Nest – Design

The Nest Learning thermostat is touchscreen and circular in design with a metal rim and glass face. The modern, sleek and tidy thermostat is mounted on the wall and out of the way. The circular design has an integrated dial that you can use to adjust the temperature and you can push the thermostat to activate the heating settings.

The Nest Learning thermostat is available in stainless steel, copper, black and white options.

Hive – Design

The Hive Active Heating thermostat has three main buttons and is operated with a central dial, similar to that of a dimmer switch. Similarly, to the Nest thermostat, the Hive is both modern and sleek and is mounted on the wall but with a small stand attachment.

The Hive thermostat is only available in a dark grey however there are 12 colour frame options available that fit around the edge to suit your interior.

Hive or Nest – Costs and value for money

One of the biggest deciding factors is often the costs and the value for money. Both Hive and Nest have similar starting costs, so the main thing to consider here is the value for money. Remember to keep in mind that whilst the Nest thermostat includes more features, if you do not use these features then they may not be worth the cost for you.

Nest – Costs and value for money

For the device alone the Nest Learning thermostat costs between £140-£200. If you are happy to install it yourself then there are no other costs, however, if you would prefer to have it professionally installed you will need to pay for installation which is £80, taking the total cost to £220-£280. The Nest thermostat comes with a 2-year warranty.

There are various additional accessories that can be paired with your thermostat, including a home security camera and smoke alarm.

Hive – Costs and value for money

For the device alone the Hive Active Heating thermostat costs between £140-£250. Again, this is if you are happy to install it yourself. If you would rather hire a professional to install it then this will cost approximately £70, which takes the total cost to £210-£320. However, if you currently are or become a British Gas user then you can get the Hive Active Heating thermostat for only £99. The Hive also has a 1-year warranty with the purchase.

Hive also offer various additional accessories including smart lights and motion sensors, all of which pair up with the thermostat.

Hive vs Nest – Installation

When it comes to installation both Hive and Nest can be installed by yourself, or by a professional. This completely depends on personal preference and ability. Installing the thermostat yourself can certainly save on costs, however, if you do get it professionally installed you can be confident that it is set up properly.

Nest – Installation

It is recommended to hire a Nest professional installer, however, this is certainly something that you can do yourself. The Nest thermostat can easily replace any existing wall-mounts or have an optional moveable stand.

The Nest thermostat is plugged into the mains, this means that you do not need to worry about replacing batteries. However, it does mean that if there is a power shortage, then there are only approximately 1-2 hours of life until it will stop working.

The installation and setup are very easy. You will receive two parts, the thermostat itself and the heat link which connects and communicates with the boiler. Once these are connected then you simply need to connect to wifi and download the app on your phone or tablet.

Hive – Installation

Hive recommends using an experienced tradesperson to install your smart thermostat, and as a British Gas company, can easily organise an engineer to come and install your Hive Active Heating thermostat. However, you could still install it yourself.

The Hive Heating thermostat does need to be installed on an internal wall, so there is a little less flexibility with its location. However, it is operated by 4 AA batteries and has approximately 2 years of battery life, which means that if there is a power shortage, this smart thermostat will keep working.

Similarly to the Nest Learning thermostat, the installation and setup are pretty easy. You will receive the thermostat itself and the receiver which connects and communicates with the boiler. Again, you will only need to connect to wifi to download the app on your phone or tablet and you are good to go.

Hive vs Nest – Verdict

Overall, Hive and Nest are both leading smart thermostat options in the market and will both provide the many benefits of using a smart thermostat in your home.

The Nest Learning thermostat does offer more features, including the automotive motion sensor and habit learning capability, at the same cost as the Hive Active Heating alternative. However, if these features are not particularly relevant to your needs then there may be other factors to consider. For example, a major decision-making factor will be your boiler type. The decision of which thermostat is best for you may fundamentally come down to the type of boiler that you have and whether or not the thermostat is compatible with it. Or if you are currently a British Gas customer or keen to become one, you could make further savings on a Hive smart thermostat.

When all is said and done, both are great smart thermostat options. Hopefully, our guide and breakdown of both Hive and Nest will help you decide which is best for you and your needs.

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