Reviewed by Louise Totton
We’re now well into December and Christmas is upon us. For homes across the country, that means that we are spending more time away from home visiting family and friends, often for extended periods of time. This, coupled with the stash of presents that we are storing and the short winter days, can make our homes a real magnet for burglars and opportunist thieves. We have had Hive Heating in our home for a while now and love it for the ease of use and the remote access it offers, so when we were asked to try out a couple of products that would hopefully make our home less appealing to potential burglars, we jumped at the chance. We were sent a Hive Active Plug (RRP: £39) and Hive Light Dimmable Bulb (RRP: £19) to try out.
Both of these products integrate fully with the Hive app you will have on your phone if you have any Hive product in your home. Up until now, I have only had the heating element of the system in my home, which was fully installed when I got it, so this was the first time I would have to add a new device to the system myself. For both the bulb and the smart plug, this was incredibly quick and simple – it took less that a minute for each of the devices.
To add the device to your system, all you have to do is open the app on your phone and tap the ‘add’ button to install a new device into your dashboard. Once you have done this, you select the type of device you want to add and switch the device on – the app will then search for and find the device for you. At this stage, you can choose to keep the default name of the device or change it – we changed our lightbulb to ‘landing light’, so that as we add more bulbs to our system, we can easily see and identify which one we want to operate. After you have done this, all you need to do is add the icon for your new device to your home screen et voila, it’s ready to use!
The devices all work in a similar way in that from the app, you can choose whether you want the device to be permanently on, switched off or run to a schedule. The scheduling function is fantastic and really does allow you to automate your home. The schedule works on a 7-day basis, and you can either copy the days across for ease, or have seven unique days if you think this would add an extra sense of security (it’s a well-known fact that burglars will often monitor routines and schedules, so you might want to vary your days a bit so your lighting schedules aren’t too uniform).
The first item we used was the bulb. These are available as either an Edison Screw fitting or a Bayonet, and they look like any standard LED lightbulb. To use them, you will need to leave the bulb switched on from your normal light switch and control it from the Hive app. This is really simple to do, and you can easily vary the brightness of the bulb as well as the warmth of the colour (blue-white through to yellow-white). I really liked how you could build these settings into your schedule too, so at 11pm, our landing light will automatically dim down to 30% brightness and with a warmer, yellowy tone, but at 7am the light changes to a brighter, whiter light for the beginning of the day. You can also build in ‘off’ time into the schedule as well as manually turning it on if you need to go upstairs ‘out of schedule’.
And it’s not just from within the home that you can do this – if you are out on an evening and want to cone back to a warm, brightly lit home, you can switch the lights on via the app to whatever brightness level you like at the same time as you give your heating a boost. This is a great feature for people who don’t like the thought of coming back to a dark home and it provides real peace of mind.
The Hive Active Plug is just as simple to use – it plugs into one a normal 3 point plug socket, and you then plug whatever appliance you wish to control into it. You can then control any item that you have running through it via the app. This could be something such as a lamp if you are using it for lighting or security or you could even set your electric blanket to pop on and warm up automatically at 10pm so you don’t forget to do it! Or even setting your slow cooker to start cooking at the right time so you can come home to a lovely, warming casserole.
We have been using ours to control our Christmas tree lights. The plug sockets are in a very awkward position and always require some kind of contortionist movement and an element of danger to switch them on and off, so the idea of having them either operate to a schedule or being able to turn them on and off with the touch of a phone was incredibly appealing! Again, as well as making your life an awful lot easier (and cosier on cold winter nights), the security concerns at this time of year make it even more useful. It’s not just the lighting that is important for deterring burglars, but with this, should you want to, you can also use it with a radio or TV so there is some noise coming from the house.
If you do decide to keep adding to your Hive system (and the stuff is so good, I think it will become a little addictive!), you can add motion sensors that will trigger your plugs and bulbs to fire up (at a dim level if that’s what you want), when they detect movement at night which is perfect for if the kids need to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. You can also add security cameras that will relay to your phone if movement is detected either inside or outside your home, and you could then, depending on what you saw on the videos, pop a few lights on to make the home look occupied, or contact the police if there was something more concerning shown.
We have been so impressed with these items from Hive. As well as being fantastic for security and for around the home in general, I can imagine lots of technophiles and gadget geeks would love to receive one of these in their Christmas stocking. Hive even do a colour changing bulb of you were looking for something a little bit fun in a teenager’s room.
I can wholeheartedly recommend both of these products. They are brilliant, work perfectly and I can’t wait to add more devices to my Hive system.
For more information or to buy, visit www.hivehome.com.