Nest Thermostat 3rd Generation Vs Hive Hub Active Heating 2 [UPDATED: March 2017]

Two of the most desired smart home products on the planet are compared head to head to help you decide which smart thermostat to buy in 2017

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Updated March 2017: Nest vs Hive – which smart thermostat should i buy in 2017? This question has been doing the rounds for some time, and remains the question which we get asked the most here at So today we are comparing the Nest smart thermostat third generation verses the Hive Hub Active Heating 2, in the battle of the smart thermostat. This post was originally made in August 2016, and we have updated it to reflect the sentiment of Q1 2017.

Read: The 30 best smart home products on the market in Q4 2016 (opens in new tab)

Nest vs Hive – a two horse race in 2017?

It is no secret that smart home and autonomous home technology is on the rise, as was amply evidenced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January. We have commented before on the smart thermostat being at the very heart of the smart home, and in Nest – the Google owned company that they acquired in 2014 – we have arguably the poster child for smart home technology. If the Google Nest is the poster child then the British Gas owned Hive Hub is the radical upstart, who have come and unsettled the market, winning market share from Nest and being seen by many as the smarter device. The result is the sort of competitive marketplace that smart home technology is crying out for, especially when you factor some of the newer market entrants like Tado. The hard reality is that Nest remains the most lusted after smart home gadget behind the Amazon Echo, and when considering Nest or Hive, we have to remember that the British Gas owned Hive 2 system is perhaps the smartest of all of the smart home gadgets on the market.

Is this therefore a two horse race? the short answer is no. Any discussion centred on the smart thermostat aspect of the smart home revolution should also include the Tado smart thermostat, Netatmo and Honeywell. However, we believe that in 2017 the best choices still lead to a head-to-head comparison of Nest vs Hive – which is the focus of this comparison piece. Neither are perfect, as this technology is still evolving, but they are the best that the market has to offer at the time of publication.

We commented yesterday about the growing problems at Nest. There is little doubting that there has been a culture shock for the acquired company whilst at Alphabet/Google, but the feeling is that some of the turmoil is starting to subside and Nest are hopefully working through the worst of their issues. The last piece of bad news was in the early new year, when a battery fault coincided with a particularly cold snap on the East Coast of the US, which put Nest in the news for the wrong reasons. All along, Hive have been on the march, quietly launching new tools to add to their Hive Hub, which is one of the better smart home hubs we must add, such as their Hive door sensors, active plug and motion sensors. Edit: The issues with Nest were reaching boiling point around the time we first published this article, but Nest seem to have gotten themselves under control now, and these bad news stories have seemingly being consigned to the past.

Hive Hub vs Nest – but what is a smart thermostat?

Before we dive into comparing these two market leaders, we should spend a minute digesting exactly what a smart thermostat is, which sits at the heart of a smart heating solution.

The basic and simplest premise behind this technology is to bring smartphone control to your heating and hot water systems. In a nutshell, that’s the long and the short of it.

The upsides of a smart thermostat solution like the Hive or Nest, is the extra control an flexibility they bring. If you have a smart solution for your heating, then you are infinitely less likely to find yourself heating an empty home, which in turn translates into money saving and environmental good karma. You can also ensure that you never have to come home to a freezing cold house ever again too. As you’re heading home from work, you can flick the heating on, or if you’re just coming home from a dinner in the evening, and you’re nice and warm and don;t want to have to wait 20 minutes for your house to warm up. Clearly there are use cases outside of the home.

Smart systems also bring practical help to you when you are at home. If you’re sitting on the sofa watching the TV, then you no longer need to get up in order to change the heating temperature in the house. Lets face it, we’re never far from our smartphones these days, so its hardly arduous to have to reach over, flip open an app and quickly tune the temperature up or down. These systems also can take better account of the different temperatures in different rooms, and provide more temperature uniformity.

They often also contain some pretty cool learning technology, which learns the sorts of temperatures that you like to keep your home at, and then learns to optimise to this temperature, taking into account the day or the week and the time of the day. As the devices are hooked up through the Internet of Things (IoTs), then they also can have prior warning around weather forecasts and as such they can be pre-armed and ready to give the heating an extra boost if say snow is forecast.

What is the difference between Hive Hub and Nest?

Nest and Hive are the two that you would go to if you’re researching adding a smart thermostat to your home.

As such, the sophistication is there now, with Nest being in their third generation – which we reviewed here and Hive Active Heating 2 is their second generation product, reviewed here.

Both contain a lot of the same features and functions, so what is the difference?

Nest thermostats main selling points

  • Nest Farsight, new with the third-gen product, has a larger and clearer display unit which lights up when you enter the room – giving you an immediate understanding of the temperature. This naturally lends it to being displayed in core family spaces, like your living room too – making it a design feature which gives the aura of sleek tech chic.
  • After just one week, Nest has learned your habits. It takes these learnings and adapts throughout the seasons in order to better manage your energy usage
  • Nest is easy to install, designed to be in place within 30 minutes, letting Google Nest target millennials and other early adopters, many of whom live in temporary rental properties. NB – it is recommended that you pay for a plumber to install it mind, so its not a plug and play solution whcih you pop out of the box and install in 30 minutes that afternoon – unless you have some pretty ninja plumbing skills that is.
  • Nest energy history shows you how much energy you have saved, which helps to justify its cost

Hive vs Nest 2016

The Hive Hub’s Active Heating 2 solutions main selling points

So how does the Hive Active compare to the Nest on their bigger selling points?

  • Hive Hub is pitched as much around its beauty – and it is very elegant – as it is around its function. It is arguably a stylistic upgrade on what Nest can bring
  • Hive is installed by a British Gas engineer – so none of that risky DIY stuff – giving you greater peace of mind. Hive typically comes with installation bundled into its price, where Nest does not, so this is something to consider when weighing up Nest or Hive.
  • Hive lets you set schedules, much like a usual timer, but with greater sophistication than normal thermostats and with the ability to override or boost the system through your app – giving you the best of both worlds
  • Geolocation features utilise your smartphones knowledge of where you are in order to give you reminders to turn off the heating, or if you’re approaching home, reminders to turn it on.

Hive active review heating system

How do Nest and Hive compare on price?

Price is obviously a significant consideration, and guess what – assuming you’re not going to have a crack at installing the Nest yourself – you’ll be paying £249 for either/both of them. Although Nest does fall to £199 if you want to be brave and DIY.

Nest vs Hive – Which to buy?

In conclusion, its a very tough call to work out which of these two devices to go for, and in truth, perhaps we’re making too bigger deal out of it?

As a side by side, both of these devices have near identical toolkits, and do much of a muchness.

Nest vs Hive on design

In some ways, design has to be a big consideration. The idea of a smart thermostat, besides the other selling points, is to have a home tool which you can place prominently in the home and to show off a bit. Nest is more minimalist and arguably more about function over form, with its farsight tool designed to be infinitely practical if a little OTT for our taste. Hive on the other hand has much more of a modern home gizmo look to it, with its less obtrusive, sleeker and smaller profile. Hive could fit into more homes, but many of you will likely prefer the look of the Nest. Again this is clearly personal preference.

Nest Vs Hive – which smart home company to get into bed with?

Both make other products. Nest make their smart security camera and their Nest Protect, a smart smoke alarm. We weren’t sold on the need for a smart smoke alarm until we gave it some thought and realised that actually it is pretty cool.

Hive have just launched a range of home security tools, as we discussed above, and they have an excellent smart home hub with their Hive Active – which positions them to launch a number of subsequent new smart home solutions.

So they’re identical on price, have many of the same tools, both are backed by huge organisations, so clearly comparing Nest vs Hive is no mean task. What’s you view? feel free to share your views in the comments below.

Read more on the topic of Hive vs Nest:

  1. The Inside Story of Nest, where problems are brewing at Google’s $3B acqusition
  2. Nest Third-Gen Thermostat Review; Is ‘Nest Worth It’ in 2016?
  3. How To Fix The Nest Battery Fault, After Nest Falls Over Again
  4. Hive Door & Window Sensors Reviewed – Everything you need to know and more
  5. Hive Launch Active Plug, Motion Sensor And Hive Window Or Door Sensor To Boost Smart home Range