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Thread: Hive active heating and other smart home devices. Anyone use any?
Harrison 15:37 9th December 2016
I've just had Hive active heating installed by British Gas. Anyone else got it? Or use other smart home systems/devices?

We are British Gas customers, using their homeserve cover for boiler servicing and covering all parts and labour for both the boiler, all pipes, waste pipes and electrics in the house. We've been using this cover for years now with great service. When we've had a boiler issue they have come out within a couple of hours to fix it. So when we had a deal to get Hive installed we thought it was a good idea, especially as Hive is made by British Gas.

After booking the install we had a date for 10th Jan 2017, but we had the annual boiler service today, and when the engineer arrived he said he saw we had booked the Hive and said if we cancelled the booking for the Jan install he could then rebook it and install it today, which was great. In addition he could offer it 100 cheaper at 149, instead of the 249 we initially paid. Go great deal.

It didn't take him long to install and we now have wi-fi controlled central heating and hot-water.

And in addition Hive acts as a complete Smart home hub, so I can get some smart Hive lightbulbs which can be set to scheduled on and off times and can be dimmed when on.. great for the outside lights and the hallway when coming home in the dark or late at night. You can also get smart plug sockets and smart security devices for door and window sensors and motion sensors, so a great way to add some security to the house too. I'm going to start off with a couple of Hive lightbulbs for the front outside light and the hallway, and then might get some window sensors in the new year.

Definitely a great system, and at the 150 price to install via British Gas at the moment you can't go wrong at that price.

Is anyone else using Hive? Or any of the alternatives from Philips, Samsung etc? Are you happy with it? Any issues?

I'm trying to work out what I could use smart plug sockets for. Maybe turning a standard lamp or bedside lights on and off. Or maybe the lighting for my display cabinet or possibly mood lighting via colours led strips I was thinking about for the study/games room. Some possibilities. Might also get some smart light bulbs for the study and living room too so they can be dimmed when watching TV without needing to get up!
Kin Hell 10:20 10th December 2016
Yeah & then when hard times be-fall you (& I hope they never do btw....worst case scenario) your power supplier says what you can have on & what you can't have on in your own home.....

Joking aside though, a good friend of mine has been using this or something similar for years now, even controlling/switching his Solar Panels on the roof. Amazing!

However, when I come home and if it's cold, I turn the heating on manually. We have a timer function for sure & thermostats fitted to all the Radiators around the home but I want control at the time.
I could be in Plymouth @ 5 Degrees & 50 miles away further South West where I live, it might be 10+ degrees. - No need for Auto Heating eh!
Harrison 13:33 10th December 2016
I initially thought there was little point in smart heating, and other smart devices around the house. However I've come around to the idea due to price and need.

My "new" house has a mixture of fairly new boiler (not combi because of solar hot water needing a hot water tank), quite an old manual thermostat in the hall, and a fairly old control unit to turn the heating and water and timer upstairs in the bathroom.

I've never been convinced the thermostat in the hall really did much because when you turning thr central heating on it just ran full blast until you turned it off. And it made the house hot really quickly. I was equally convinced the hot water wasn't heating up quite how it should.

So I decided a new hall thermostat was needed, and we were getting annoyed having to walk upstairs to turn the heating on.

Having all the controls on the Hive in the hall solves all those issues when you don't have a smartphone on you. It now cuts the heating in and out to the temp set and is easy to set the timer in the app. It also has a holiday mode which is useful.

The hot water equally now seems to work correctly. The gas engineer said the thermostat on the hot water tank wasn't attached and was just hanging loose.

Now the interesting smart home bits. As well as the light bulbs, and the sensors I mentioned, they are about to release smart radiator thermostats so you can control the heating in each room of the house automatically on a timer if you wanted, and also because they are smart they will know the temperature in that room and adjust themselves to the thermostat settings. Now that is useful. But even more useful for me as we are currently having a wood burning stove installed so the downstairs radiators won't need to be on when that's running so smart rad thermostats can shut them off. Will save me some money.

I've also thought of something else. You can pair smart light bulbs with motion sensors, so they turn on when you enter a room. I've going to set this up in the hall and landing so at night they will auto come on and then go off after a set time. But you can still turn them on and off manually too from the light switch. Useful when my son goes to the toilet at night.

I'm also going to do this for the front outside light too. And that will benefit from the scheduled timer for the smart light too. It would be good if the sensors could also trigger the outside light when it gets dark but not checked if that's possible yet.

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Harrison 15:11 10th December 2016
I've now just been reading more on the Amazon Echo, and discovered they have now also released the Echo Dot, which is much smaller if you don't need the larger built in speaker, and has additional features over the Echo such as Bluetooth connectivity to stream music to other devices such as a soundbar, and also a 3.5mm audio out to connect it to a better sound system for streaming music. But what I'm most interested in is that this works with Hive, so with some smart lightbulbs I can have my house voice controlled to adjust my water and heating, and turn light bulbs on/off and dim them from voice control. And the Dot is only 50.

It obviously does much more than just that, such as supporting Spotify, Amazon Prime music streaming, and other services. You can also do loads of other stuff such as accessing your Google calender, ordering food from Just Eat, order a taxi etc... more abilities and features are being added all the time. And more IFTTT support is being added so you can ask conditional questions such as when something happens it does something. Quite useful.

When I first saw the Amazon Echo adverts on TV I really didn't understand the point in the device, but now I've actually looked at it I can see it could be useful. I think the cheaper and much smaller Dot is more useful than the larger Echo. That's really only useful if you want a connected speaker for streaming music, as well as Alexa. The Dot has most features other than the speaker and much cheaper.

With the Echo Dot and smart heating and lighting it's quickly becoming like the star Trek Next Generation voice controlled ships computer. Very cool.

I'm now wondering if there will be any Sonos support. Now that would be cool.

The only thing that struck me is that Microsoft have been trying to do this for ages with the Xbox Kinect and not really getting very far because of the need for the console. With Amazon they have taken this the right way by making it compatible with as much as possible from the start. Google must really be worried about the Echo because this was something I really thought they would have invented. Same with Apple. Although with both they would be locked into their own eco systems. Amazon is more interested in selling products, because basically they are a large online department store. The echo can order Prime account holder's products from Amazon, so that sorts that our. It can stream music from Amazon prime and it can read Kindle books to users.

I'm also thinking the Echo Dot would be a brilliant device for my sister. She is completely blind and not very mobile. She currently relies on helpers to put music CDs on for her, or change the channels on Sky for her. With an Echo Dot and an Amazon Prime account she would be free to ask to listen to whatever she wants. From music to audio books and Kindle ebooks. This is going to be a brilliant device for the visually impaired and also for anyone with mobility issues.

This device initially looked a bit pointless to me, but I can really see the uses now.
Harrison 16:08 10th December 2016
Just checked and Sonos support is coming to Echo in the new year, so that will be interesting. Sonos are also finally opening up the speakers to third party support, so you won't need to control them via their own app. Spotify f.ex. will allow you to select the speakers from devices within it's own app to stream to the speakers.
Kin Hell 14:19 11th December 2016
Aye & those Sonos Speakers are superb. If you can appreciate the quality of them, then you wont bitch about the price.
Stephen Coates 17:34 11th December 2016
When we put our central heating in in 2005, we got a then quite fancy wireless controller/thermostat. It is quite configurable. Currently, during the week, it sets the heating to 18 for a couple of hours in the morning, then goes down to 14 during the day, then back up to 18 in the evening, then back to 14 overnight, and it does something slightly different at weekends.

Of course, you can override it, turn it on permanently, or turn it off. The 'off' setting isn't actually off, its just a low temperature (e.g. 14).

There's no need to control it when away from home, because if no one is here, I want it turned off.

We have thermostatic valves on most of our radiators, which is helpful, particularly in my bedroom, which gets very hot. I wouldn't mind something a bit more fancy, with finer control, but only for this one radiator.

I see very little point to any other 'smart home' type stuff. As an electronics and computer enthusiast, having the ability to control stuff by computer always sounds fun, but I've always seen it more as a potential fun electronics project; certainly not something I would buy ready done, as I don't have any practical use for it.

I don't really see the point in voice control. The concept is quite interesting, and I'm sure it would have its niche uses, such as Harrison's sister, but I doubt it would be good for me. I like my peace and quiet and I don't want to listen to other people talking to machines, and I have quite an odd voice, and I wouldn't be surprised if it would have trouble understanding me.
Harrison 09:45 12th December 2016
I was initially like you, wondering what the point of a smart house or voice control was. But after looking into it I can see lots of potential uses around my house.

I will definitely get some of the smart thermostatic valves when available because of the wood burner we are having installed. The system can then just heat the parts of the house that the stove doesn't.

Plus for us the smart light bulbs will be useful because we come home in the dark, so being able to turn lights on before getting out of the car will be useful. As will scheduling them when away will too. Plus sensor activated lights on the landing at night.

My wife is also interested in the smart lightning because you can change the light colour temperature from cold to warm white, which is great so you can have softer lighting in the evening, and cooler white lighting if working and reading.

It's meant to be pretty good at recognising voices and can even take commands in noisy rooms and whilst playing music.

I also thought of a use for the smart plug sockets. Controlling Christmas decorations.

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Stephen Coates 16:07 12th December 2016
I've always liked the idea of being able to change the colour temperature of lamps. I've settled on 4000k for my bedroom/lab, but having lamps that can change their colour temperature would be cool.

Christmas decoration and lights are a potential good application, but personally, I would just use a normal timer switch.
Kin Hell 13:46 13th December 2016
Originally Posted by Stephen Coates:
I've always liked the idea of being able to change the colour temperature of lamps. I've settled on 4000k for my bedroom/lab, but having lamps that can change their colour temperature would be cool.

Christmas decoration and lights are a potential good application, but personally, I would just use a normal timer switch.
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