British Gas has had tremendous success in the UK with its smart thermostat, Hive. That’s why its parent company, Centrica, has now decided to cross the pond with all the knowledge that it’s acquired and begin selling the Hive Active Thermostat in the United States.
Hive’s launch in the United States comes as no surprise. It’s been an incredible success in the UK, and Centrica owns one of the largest energy providers in the US, Direct Energy. Despite all the knowledge it has acquired through the years of being available in the UK, the US will be an entirely different kettle of fish. Hive is set to enter a smart home market that has already significantly matured, with a whole range of stakeholders offering a variety of different smart home experiences.
In the UK there are only a few big name consumer smart home manufacturers, such as Nest and Samsung’s SmartThings. In the US it’s an entirely different story, with those two giants joined by the likes of Wink, iDevices and Insteon, as well as ADT, AT&T, Comcast, Lowe’s and Verizon.
Centrica is spending £500 million on its expansion into North America, with the initial rollout set to hit just six states – Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, western Pennsylvania and Texas. People in those states will be able to sign up to a new service plan with Direct Energy called Connect to Comfort 24, where they will get the Hive Active Thermostat with free installation and a fixed energy price.
Unlike in the UK, the Hive Active Thermostat will lack hot water control when it rolls out in the United States. Consumers will also be locked into a 24-month contract in order to get the thermostat; something not required in the UK.
The cost of the Connect to Comfort 24 plan will vary depending on location. Those in Delaware, for example, will pay slightly more than those in Illinois. With Delawarean’s paying 8.83¢, compared to Illinoisans who will pay just 8.59¢. Both rates are still far higher than the most affordable tariffs offered by Direct Energy.
The Direct Energy launch is only part of Hive’s journey into the US. The company does have plans to offer its thermostat as part of a starter kit which users can simply buy for an upfront cost. That will likely satisfy those who would rather not be tied into a 24-month contract for their electricity. The kits will also ship with more than just a thermostat, with the Hive Welcome Home offering a control hub, the thermostat, smart light bulbs and smart power outlet adapters, as well as window and door sensors.Hive has around 360,000 customers in the UK and has been available to British Gas customers since October 2013. That means its launch predates the Nest Learning Thermostat’s debut in the UK by around six months, with the Alphabet-owned smart home manufacturer debuting its thermostat in April 2014.
Hive has around 360,000 customers in the UK and has been available to British Gas customers since October 2013. That means its launch predates the Nest Learning Thermostat’s debut in the UK by around six months, with the Alphabet-owned smart home manufacturer debuting its thermostat in April 2014.
Despite the competition from Nest, the Hive Active Thermostat has managed to thrive in the marketplace thanks to its support for features such as hot water control. The Nest Learning Thermostat eventually gained the ability to control the hot water in December 2016, coinciding with the launch of the third-generation model – although Hive has had it from day one.
Since the launch of its thermostat, Hive has continuously added new products to its line-up. That includes everything from smart light bulbs and smart plugs, to accessories and sensors for activating them. The company hasn’t seen any of these products reach the same heights as its thermostat, however.