In the world of smart home manufacturers, companies such as Ring, Wyze, and Google Nest, just to name a few, often receive the most recognition. However, there are others who may not be as popular, who are just as notable. One such brand is Hive.
Hive is a trademark company owned by Centrica Hive Limited and is the only UK-based connected, or, smart home provider. Like much of their competition, they offer a very varied array of smart home devices. That, coupled with the fact that they can be integrated with many other smart home products, has helped them to rise in popularity, especially in the UK.
As of December 2019, however, they made some major changes that affected a large number of their customer base. This left some Hive users wondering – how will this affect functionality? What changed? Will I still be able to control my devices even if I’m not home?
Well the short answer is…
UK or Irish customers will continue to be able to buy and install Hive products, and operate them when abroad. But people in other countries have seen their Hive support cut a lot since December 2019.
But as always, there’s a bit more to know than that. Let’s firstly get into the background of Hive.
What Is Hive?
Hive is a UK-based smart home product manufacturer that produces a rather extensive line of useful and intuitive smart home products.
Much like Philips Hue, Wyze, Ring, or any other smart home system we’re familiar with today, all of their devices can be connected to and controlled via their respective app, the Hive app.
Their line includes a variety of helpful devices such as bulbs, cameras, sensors of various types, and smart plugs – just to name a few. One of their most popular items is their award-winning Hive Thermostat, which works right along with your existing heating system. When you add their optional plan, Heating Plus for £39.90/year or £3.99/month, you can end up saving a pretty penny on heating costs.
Like many smart home systems, Hive devices are even compatible with different smart home hubs such as Amazon’s Alexa, giving you seamless control over all of your smart home devices, even if they’re from different manufacturers.
As of recent, they even introduced enhanced integration with Philips Hue, giving you the ability to combine them with Hive smart technology. Being so many people have taken to using smart lighting, this was definitely a power move for Hive.
But they didn’t stop there. Hive has even introduced Electric Vehicle charging. After installation, you can even control your electric vehicle’s charging, right from your Hive app!
So now that you’ve got some of the most innovative smart home technology, how do you control your Hive devices?
How is Hive Controlled?
Hive smart devices can be controlled via a few different means. One such way is of course via the manual/physical controls on each Hive device. But let’s face it, if we wanted to control our smart devices the old-fashioned way, we might as well stick to traditional ‘dumb’ or standard devices.
To that end, the most popular way to control Hive devices is by use of the Hive app. This is the most preferred method as it offers the most options for customization, and is specifically tailored to work with your Hive devices.
In order to control your Hive devices this way, you’ll first need to purchase and connect all your devices to the Hive hub.
One important note – Hive hubs are specific to the original owner. Meaning, if you happen to move and get a house that has a Hive hub already assigned to say, a Hive Thermostat, you will still need to purchase a new Hive hub in order to use that thermostat. This also takes out the possibility of purchasing a Hive hub secondhand. Hive hubs can only be registered to one person, and can never be reassigned.
Another option for controlling your Hive devices is via a smart home hub. Hive made sure that they made their devices compatible with various smart home hubs in order to better integrate Hive into your smart home ecosystem. For example, Hive works with such hubs as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, giving you even more options of control. You will, however, still need to connect your devices to a Hive hub in order to take advantage of these options.
What Hive Changed in December 2019
Once widely available in different parts of the world, as of December 31st, 2019, Hive made a major change – they stopped direct-selling their products and services in the United States, Canada, and even certain parts of Europe such as Italy and France.
You now see the following if you access it from those countries:
Hive is now primarily a UK company. You can purchase their products directly from Hive, but only if you live in the UK or Ireland. In fact, you can’t even explore their product line or features unless you’re browsing via their UK or Ireland site. So what exactly does that mean for you if you live in any of the regions that they stopped selling to?
Basically, you can no longer purchase Hive products or services directly from the Hive website. However, you can still purchase Hive products via 3rd party websites such as Amazon and Ebay. While 3rd party purchasing is still possible, it will likely also cease in the near future – so it might not be a good idea to purchase anyway.
Thankfully, though, support and important firmware updates still continue for current US, Canadian, and European customers – at least for now. Being their first step was to pull the active selling of their products from these regions, it’s likely that support will be pulled, or at least severely limited in the not-so-distant future.
Hive has repeatedly assured customers in these regions that their products will continue to work, that they’ll still receive necessary technical support, and that any applicable warranties, namely their one-year warranty, are still valid and will be honored. However, since the change in December 2019, and especially after a recent Hive app update, many have experienced otherwise.
Customers report app crashes, devices not working, and poor customer service. The rising amount of complaints from customers in the US and Canada leads one to believe that support will be pulled from these regions sooner than the company has indicated.
Can You Control Hive From Abroad?
One of the most appealing parts of having smart home devices is the fact that as long as these devices and their respective apps have a stable internet connection, they can be controlled no matter where we are.
In order to deter burglars, you can have your lights turn on and off at times that you specify, as well as check security camera footage. And when you’re on your way back, you can even set your home to that perfect temperature so that it’s the ultimate welcome home when you walk through the door after a long stay away.
So if you’re traveling abroad, can you monitor and use your Hive devices? As long as your devices have been set up, are connected to the Hive app, and you have a stable internet connection – yes you can control your Hive devices when abroad.
You can control your Hive smart devices via the Hive app, or any smart home hub’s app that you’ve connected your Hive devices to. One such example is Amazon’s Alexa. Via the Alexa app, you can create routines, and have them run whilst you’re away.
But what if you’re an American customer? Or in one of the other regions that Hive stopped direct-selling to? If you want to buy and install new Hive devices or services, unfortunately, this won’t be possible, as they’re no longer accepting new customers in these regions.
When it comes to existing customers, while Hive has reassured customers in these areas that as long as your devices are already set up, you can still use them – many have reported that that’s not the case.
Repeated incidences of devices disconnecting or just not working at all are growing among Hive users in these areas. If they can’t even use their devices when they’re home, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to if they travel abroad.
Your Smart Home On The Go
While Hive may no longer be useful to the American, Canadian, or parts of the European smart home audience, if you’re in the UK, you’re in luck! As a now UK-based company, Hive offers some of the best smart products for your home, as well as award-winning support.
If you’re in any of the regions where they stopped selling products, you will have to start looking at other smart home companies. There’s still no word as to why Hive decided to make such a move. Production costs? Shifting focus? One can only speculate at this point.
So the verdict? If you’re a new customer trying to operate Hive devices anywhere outside of the UK and Ireland, unfortunately, it’s not going to work out.
However, Hive users in the UK and Ireland? You’ve got the green light to enjoy the many benefits that come with owning Hive devices. With on-the-go support, you can make sure your home is safe and secure, even when you’re not there.