I’m still here, even though the blog has been dormant since March. I’ve been driven to write a new post by the news that Hive is to end support for some of its devices. These include security cameras, sensors and a burglar alarm.
If you have any of those devices, they will simply stop working on 1st August 2025. I suppose Hive gets some credit here for giving customers three years notice. Other companies have not been so courteous, although in some cases that’s because the companies concerned have run into financial difficulties. That’s definitely not the case with Hive, which is part of Centrica. Centrica also runs British Gas, and has just recorded massive profits. That’s controversial enough in itself, with rising energy prices fuelling (no pun intended) soaring inflation. The point is that Hive can certainly afford to keep its smart infrastructure running.
It’s not even as though Hive has run into the same problem as other smart home companies. Many products falter when the companies that sell them realise that one off sales of hardware are insufficient to keep cloud infrastructure running indefinitely. Hive shouldn’t have had that problem. They offered a range of subscription services if you wanted to view footage from your cameras, in a similar way to subscriptions from the likes of Ring and Nest.
Most of devices concerned have been removed from the Hive website, although the motion sensors are still available. The Hive smart heating and lighting products are also still available, and seem to be excluded from the end of support. That does tie in with Hive’s official reason for the change. It has decided to concentrate on devices that promote energy efficiency. That would explain continued support for the motion sensors, as they can be used to get the most out of smart lighting.
Of course, the environmental credentials of this move are somewhat undermined by Hive’s advice for what to do with the other devices when support ends, which is to take them to your local household recycling centre. In other words, generate e-waste.
Hive’s logic seems, on the face of it, to make some sense. As an energy company, or at least a subsidiary of one, concentrating on energy based products seems reasonable. It would be, if they hadn’t overstretched themselves in the first place.
Prior to this move, Hive was actually a good bet for someone wanting to get some of the benefits of a smart home without having to get too far into technical details. Their suite of products was quite comprehensive. They still sell a wide range of light bulbs, generally at a lower price than their Philips Hue equivalents. Add in the smart plugs, motion sensors, and thermostats, and you had – and still have – a pretty good setup for a smart home, all from a single source. Their products work with Homekit, as well as both Alexa and Google voice control.
Against that background, the cameras made sense. They rounded out the range to truly make Hive a one-stop shop for most mainstream smart home needs. Their current line-up is still strong, but I’d be more wary of recommending their products now that they’ve shown willingness to drop them.
Dropping support for the cameras, especially the outdoor ones, is going to be particularly galling for anyone who has invested in them. More than most smart tech, cameras require complex installation. They have to be screwed to the wall, and most require power – which involves drilling holes through walls and running the appropriate power cables. They’re not something you replace lightly, although at least the wall mounts are fairly standard. When I replaced my battery operated Arlo cameras with IP based cameras, I was pleased to learn that the three screw holes in the mounting plate were in the same place on the new camera mounts and I didn’t have to drill more holes.
Many of Hive’s customers will have started off with the smart thermostats. I get my gas boiler serviced by British Gas, and there was a period when the service technicians would always try to upsell to a Hive thermostat. That direct access to customers, combined with heavy TV advertising, made Hive a big player in the UK smart home market. The thermostat was its way in, and once a customer already had the hub, they might look to Hive’s products to expand their smart home.
Security is one of the main use cases for smart home tech, and, if you were already using the other Hive products, it would have made perfect sense to invest in Hive’s security products. Hive is, after all, a big and well known brand that’s part of a much larger organisation. As part of an organisation that sells boilers, which are long term investments, I’d have believed that they understood the need for physical devices to last, especially when they require disruptive installation. One of the reasons I’ve been wary of Google’s Nest products is that I’ve never felt that Google has fully understood that those physical devices can’t be ephemeral in the way that software can.
Overall, then, I’m disappointed with Hive. Their customers will end up with bricked devices, and a sour taste in the mouth that may put them off of further use of smart home products.
Finally, of course, it goes almost without saying that the best smart home strategy is to use products that don’t rely on cloud services. It’s entirely possible to put together a comprehensive security camera system running entirely locally and using open source software. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know what I’m going to recommend…
Yes, Home Assistant, together with something like Frigate or Zoneminder, will give you a great security system and smart home control beyond anything offered commercially. It might be a bit more work to get up and running, but at least the only person who can switch it off is you.in Home Automation