Hive Thermostat Mini full review

Right now, heating bills are a worry for many people, with costs rising significantly. A smart heating system offers a simple way to schedule your home's heating, switch off radiators in unused rooms and can even provide spending safeguards with features such as a timed boost function and geolocation technology, so you don’t forget to switch off the heat when you go out.

Hive’s new Thermostat Mini has all of these features, in a compact and affordable package. It's sold only in the UK, and isn't available in the US.

Design & appearance

  • Minimalist design
  • Mirror finish when not in use
  • Limited functions on thermostat itself

Like its predecessor - the Hive Thermostat - the Thermostat Mini is a beautifully designed device. When not in use, the small, square thermostat’s screen has a blank, mirror-like surface, marked only with two arrows and a circle to indicate where to press.

Hive Thermostat Mini when not in use

Where the previous model of the Hive thermostat has buttons and a dial, the Mini is touchscreen-only. It’s more compact and perfectly minimalist.

Press it and the display will illuminate. At first glance, you can see if the heat and hot water are on, as well as the current and target temperature. You can easily turn the temperature up and down using the arrow buttons, as well as switching scheduling on and off.

Hive Thermostat Mini

The Mini does all the same things as the Hive Thermostat, but apart from these basic controls, you'll need to fire up the Hive app on your phone to access the other features.

Those who’d prefer to have more controls accessible via the thermostat itself will be glad to hear that Hive has no plans to discontinue its earlier thermostat, believing that it’ll still be a better choice for some people. You can read our review of Hive Active Heating 2 to find out more.

In the box

Buy the Hive Thermostat Mini and in the box you’ll get a Hive Hub, the thermostat itself (measuring 8.5 x 8.5 x 2cm), 4 AAA batteries and a receiver, which connects directly to your boiler. This kit costs £119 and contains everything you need to set up smart heating. This makes it an affordable option: it's about £40 less than the Hive Thermostat, which is already competitively priced.

If you already have a Hive Hub, you can buy the Thermostat Mini and a receiver for just £59.

The batteries should last about a year, and unlike the Nest Learning Thermostat, there's no option to power it from the mains or from the wiring of an existing wall thermostat. 

Installation

  • Installation costs £100
  • Performed by a certified British Gas engineer
  • Takes 1.5 to 2 hours

If you know what you’re doing with boiler electrics you could install the Thermostat Mini yourself, but it’s generally recommended that you opt for professional installation. It will cost £100 and will be performed by a certified British Gas engineer.

It’s a reassuring process. The engineer will know the product and is unlikely to be fazed by anything in your set-up. However, if you are having problems with your existing boiler, don’t schedule an installation in the hope that they’ll be able to fix it as part of the appointment - they won't.

The process will be more or less complicated depending on your current set-up but it can usually be done in about an hour and a half.

Hive is compatible with most gas and LPG boilers, both combi and regular. It should also work with electric boilers that have a standard room thermostat or a programmer, as well as oil boilers with a thermostat or programmer. If you’d like to check if your boiler is compatible, you can do so on Hive's website.

My installation was very straightforward but it still took a couple of hours, so we would advise leaving a morning or afternoon free, just in case. I have a common Alpha boiler and, unusually, I didn’t have an existing wall thermostat, which meant that the engineer didn't have to worry about removing it. He only had to fit the receiver in the cupboard next to the hot water cylinder.

Hive receiver

To use a Hive smart heating system, you’ll need to plug the Hive Hub into your router. As my router already had a TV and PC plugged into it, I bought a network switch to give me more ports (I opted for the Netgear 5-port Gigabit hub, available from Amazon for £14.39).

The Hive Thermostat Mini can be used with multi-zone systems. You can control up to six heating zones, as well as your hot water - that’s three more than the previous iteration of the Hive Thermostat. You can also use it if you have underfloor heating.

You won’t be able to use a smart thermostat to create new heating zones, though. Your existing set-up must already have the valves to control hot water to different parts of your home, which isn't usually the case in older homes, or - more specifically - homes with older plumbing.

Hive radiator valves

  • Cost £54 each
  • Can be self-installed
  • Control the heat to individual rooms

However, there’s a handy workaround to control radiators in specific rooms. If you buy Hive smart thermostatic radiator valves (priced at £54 each, available from Hive), you can replace the thermostatic valves that are already on your radiators and use them to independently control the heating in these rooms.

Installing these TRVs and adding them to your system is easy to do, so long as your radiators have compatible valves. In that case you won't need them professionally installed and you can do it yourself at a later date - they don't have to be purchased at the same time as the thermostat.

Hive thermostatic radiator valve

The individual radiator valves allow you to set separate schedules for heating in those rooms, and switch off the heat to one room if you aren’t using it for a specific time period.

If, for example, you have a spare room, you can fit a TRV to the rad and keep the heat off in there until you have someone coming to stay. Then you can switch it on remotely from your phone. You could also set a shorter heating schedule for a home office, so that you're not heating it in the evenings like other parts of the house.

Hive's radiator valves also have open window detection, so they'll shut off to stop you from endlessly heating your garden if you happen to leave a window ajar.

The radiator valves even have a feature called Heat on Demand, which allows your Hive radiator valves to switch the heat on outside of its scheduled timing to warm up rooms. When the rooms with smart TRVs reach their target temperature, it'll switch off again. It's similar to using the boost function, and, like the boost function, it does (of course) heat up all the radiators in that zone.

One of the best reasons to get these smart TRVs is that instead of seeing a meaningless number from 1-5 on your radiator and trying to work out what temperature that equates to, you’ll get a digital readout - both on the radiator valve itself and in the app on your phone. It’s much more precise and much easier to keep an eye on the temperature.

Hive Thermostat Mini features

  • Geolocation
  • Holiday mode
  • Frost protection

The Hive Thermostat Mini has all the same features as Hive's previous thermostat, but most of them are accessible only via the Hive app.

The app is free to download and use and available for iPhone and Android. It's well designed, easy to navigate and simple to use. However, you will find yourself having to click past the odd banner ad for Hive Heating Plus, which is annoying.

Hive app

Within the app, you can set a schedule for your heating, and can choose a different schedule for each day of the week if you want. You can also switch your heating on and off and give it a boost, so you can warm up the house without having to remember to switch it off again when the target temperature is reached.

Your hot water is controlled the same way and has a dedicated section in the app where you can set schedules, switch it on and off and boost its temperature.

Hive hot water control

There's a daily heating history which displays a week's worth of temperature graphs. However, if you want to see a weekly or yearly graph, or see the cost breakdown - guess what? You'll have to subscribe to Hive Heating Plus.

There are other handy features, like geolocation. Once you have the Hive app on your phone, if you switch on location services, you'll get a reminder to switch off the heating when you leave your home. Just make sure that every member of the household who'll be home alone has the app, or they'll be left in the cold.

And, if you fit a Hive door sensor, instead of receiving a reminder alert if geolocation is switched on, the heat will automatically be turned off.

There's also Frost Protection, which will automatically switch on the heating if the temperature drops below 7°C; and Holiday Mode, which allows you to schedule heating for a trip, so it switches back on in time to warm up the house before your return.

Compatibility

The Hive Thermostat Mini is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Siri Shortcuts and IFTTT. This means you can use voice commands for basic functions, as well as setting up groups: you could schedule your heating to come on with your smart lights at dusk, or when you usually come in from work.

And, of course, if you have any other Hive devices, such the Hive View Camera, the Hive View Outdoor camera, or Hive sensors, they can all be controlled through the Hive app and used in groups.

Hive is also working on Matter compatibility, but can't yet confirm whether current Hive devices will work with Matter. 

Can the Thermostat Mini save you money?

For many people considering buying a smart thermostat, the big question is this: will it save me money? The answer really depends on how you use your heating at the moment. If you don’t schedule your heating economically, if you leave it on when you go out, or forget to turn off the heat in unused rooms, smart heating could help - but only by helping you to change your habits.

If you’re already careful with your heating, it’s not going to make a huge impact. Besides, once you’ve factored in the cost of the kit and installation, it’ll take you some time to recoup your outlay.

Some smart heating systems have technology that learns your habits and can offer you ways to save money on heating by making changes to your routine. The Hive Thermostat Mini doesn’t have that capability but Hive offers a subscription service, the much-advertised Hive Heating Plus, which offers these features.

It costs £3.99 per month or £39.90 per year. It has a Heating Efficiency Monitor, which should flag problems with your heating, it'll display your heating usage and spending trends and show you what changes you'd have to make to hit a monthly budget of your choice.

Again, we think that this is a better tool for people who want to monitor their heating than those trying to save money on it. 

Verdict

The Hive Thermostat Mini is a smart heating system that you can build on. If you begin with the thermostat, you can buy Hive's radiator valves for more granular, room-by-room heating control. It's also compatible with many other devices, both Hive-branded and from other manufacturers, like Philips Hue.

The initial investment is lower than many - if not most - competitors and it has all of the features you'll need in smart heating.

The trade-off for the lower price of the Mini compared to Hive's previous thermostat is that the majority of its features are controlled via the app. However, if you're app-happy, we'd say that it's worth it.

We wouldn't recommend it to anyone hoping to save money at the outset, but if you want to switch to smart heating for convenience, this is an affordable and flexible option.

For other smart heating options, have a look at our round-up of the best smart thermostats we've tested.

Specs

Hive Thermostat Mini: Specs

  • Price includes Hive Hub, receiver & batteries
  • Features: Geolocation, Frost protection, Holiday mode, Boost
  • Compatible with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Siri Shortcuts and IFTTT

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