{diy with style} Home Made Smarter

Monday, June 12, 2017

As I get older, I'm determined to keep up with the newest technology. Sure I haven't heard of the latest dating app, and there's always some new social media aimed at the generation a decade younger than I am, but I do pretty well {mostly thanks to my husband, who sometimes has to drag me along when I complain about why the TV needs three different remotes}. 

Our house is the same way. Built just about 10 years ago, it came before smart home technology really became mainstream. And I've seen the way that Scott looks at those younger homes with their fancy thermostats and lights you can control from your phone. So I was thrilled when I learned that Hive, the UK's most popular smart home brand, has just launched in the US and Canada and is offering easy ways to make any home tech savvy - including the ability to adjust heating and air conditioning, lighting, and appliances from anywhere, and to have each of these components work together to create one cohesive smart home ecosystem! Thank you to Hive for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.


I used to envision that having a smart home meant a complicated system that would take me a long time to learn to operate, and that I'd have to constantly ask Scott to remind me how to make it work right {like the dang TV}. But after setting up our Hive Home ecosystem last week, I realized that having a totally integrated smart home is actually way easier than navigating all of our digital entertainment options, or keeping up with the latest social media apps! 

When our Hive Welcome Home kit arrived last week, I was so excited to open the box to check out what was included!

Smart Home 101 with Hive Home System

The Hive Welcome Home kit gives you everything you need to get started with home automation, including the Hive Hub, a Hive Active Thermostat, Hive Active Light bulbs, Hive Active Plugs, Hive Window or Door Sensors, and a Hive Motion Sensor. You can then add on additional lights, plugs, and sensors to fit your needs. Using the Hive app, each of these components work together to create a smart home ecosystem - for example, the motion sensor can turn the lights on, or the door sensor can tell your thermostat to adjust the temperature when you arrive home. 


After admiring the pretty packaging, I did what I typically do with anything tech related… I asked Scott to set it up. 

He started by putting the Hive Hub - the heart and brain of the system - in the guest room, and connecting it to our broadband router.


Fortunately the Hive Hub is a small sleek white box that doesn't take up much space. But I have to give Scott major props for how well he always makes our equipment blend in with my decor {that taller white thing behind the flowers is our router}. Clearly my decor blogger ways have rubbed off on him! 



The Hive Hub set up was a quick process, and Scott also downloaded the Hive app, but then he had to get packed for an out of town work trip, so I had to set up the rest of the components myself. And I'm glad I did, because now I realize just how simple and easy Hive is to self-install! 

Scott has been wanting to make our home "smarter" for quite a while, but I always thought of it more as a techy-toy - something fun to have, but not something we needed. I can admit when I'm wrong though… and I was definitely wrong on this one! It turns out that Hive is already making our lives easier and our home safer in some very real ways. 

Let me give you a quick tour of our new and improved, smart home ecosystem... 

GARAGE SECURITY & SAFETY

About a year after we moved into our house, our neighbors home was robbed and the thieves broke into our garage as well, but were scared away by another neighbor before making it into our home. We immediately installed a home security system, but, ironically, the one area of our home that is not covered by the alarm monitoring is the one area that was broken in to - the detached garage. This was a matter of cost and logistics, but it's always bothered me that our garage was not protected like the rest of the house... Enter Hive!


Through a combination of a Hive Door Sensor, and a Hive Motion Sensor, and a Hive Active Light bulb, I can now monitor our garage from anywhere, and I feel safer going out there to get things from the fridge and freezer or take the the trash out at night. {Can you spot the fridge and freezer? They are covered in a patchwork of paint swatches!}


Here's how I set it up... first I used the included adhesive strips to install the Hive Door Sensor along the inside, top edge of the door that leads from our backyard into the garage. This clever wireless sensor now sends an alert to my phone anytime this door is opened or closed!


Next, I used another adhesive strip to affix a Hive Motion Sensor on the wall of the garage, positioned to where the sensor will pick up motion in the garage if someone were to enter through the backyard door or either of the garage lift doors. This sensor also sends alerts directly to my phone. While the door and motion sensors are not tied to an alarm system, receiving the immediate notifications on my phone puts me in control and I can call a neighbor to check on things if I'm not home, or call the police if need be.

Taking it one step further, I was also able to install a Hive Active Light bulb in the ceiling fixture, and with just a few swipes of the Hive app, I set it up so that the when the door sensor recognizes that the door has been opened, it turns the light on in the garage.


I go between the house and the garage a lot in the evenings to get food from the extra fridge and freezer when I'm cooking dinner, and taking out the trash and recycling after meals. My hands are often full, and I've never liked walking into the dark, detached garage at night. With just about a few minutes of set up, Hive has totally solved this problem!


LIGHTING THE HOUSE FOR SECURITY

After setting up the Hive Active Light bulb in our garage, I wanted to be able to control some of the lights inside the house as well. For a while now, we've had the lights in our living room plugged into an old-school mechanical timer so that they are always on at night whether we are home or not. But the location of the outlet is hard to access when we want to reset the timer, and I've never really liked that the lights come on and off at the exact same time every day since I know that as a home security measure, a varied schedule is much better.

The living room lamps don't use a standard sized light bulb, though, so we couldn't simply swap out the bulbs for Hive Active Light bulbs. Instead, I plugged the lamps into a Hive Active Plug


Using the Hive App to control the Hive Active Plug, I can set a different set the lamps to come on and off on a unique schedule for each day of the week, and I can also turn the lamps on and off anytime right from my phone.
  


MAKING MOM'ING EASIER

I also added a Hive Active Light bulb to the lamp in the boys' new shared bedroom.


The boys want to sleep with this lamp on at night, but this lamp is not set up for a three-way bulb since it has a single on/off switch on the cord, and any bulb that is bright enough to give them good light for reading and playing during the day is too bright for sleeping at night. The Hive Active Light™ bulb solved this problem, because it's dimmable. Not only can I control the brightness of the bulb with just a tap of my finger, I can also set a schedule so that the lamp provides full light during evening play and story-time, and then automatically dims to lower light at bedtime. Talk about making mom'ing easier!


In the photos below, you can see the comparison between the full 100% lamp light, and the dimmer 30% light that we've set for bedtime. The boys are happy because the lamp is still on a night, but the dimmer light is already helping them to fall asleep faster, making mom happy too!


SLEEPING COMFORTABLY WHILE SAVING ENERGY

This last Hive smart home update is definitely my husband's favorite because it's going to help us save a lot of money on our energy bill. And it's also big on style, which you know I love!

Our house has two furnaces - one for the basement, first and second floor, and a separate one just for our master bedroom/bathroom up on the third floor. Fortunately, Hive offers a plan that comes with two Hive Active Thermostats.

We don't want to pay to heat or cool the master suite all day when no one is upstairs, but we aren't always good at remembering to adjust the temperature before leaving the bedroom for the day. Our old thermostats were programmable {I think}, but they weren't intuitive and in 9 years of living here we never figured it out. 


Let's talk about the Hive Active Thermostatsthat we installed up on the third floor. I'm so excited about the convenience of being able to control the heat and air conditioning in our bedroom without having to climb two flights of stairs each time!


There's a simple compatibility checker tool on the Hive website that asks a few simple questions to determine if your existing wiring is set up correctly for the installation of the Hive Active Thermostat. In the case of my wiring, the compatibility tool was inconclusive, and it directed me to send an email to Hive Customer Service for further guidance. I couldn't believe how quickly they responded to my inquiry, and I was even more impressed by how thorough and helpful they were! They asked me to snap a photo of the wiring for my existing thermostat so they could look at it. 


They noticed that we had one unused wire in our current set up, and they believed that wire was the one needed to power the Hive Active Thermostats, but they advised that I should have an HVAC electrician do the quick install just in case any wiring needed to be adjusted. 

As much as I would have preferred to DIY the thermostat installation, I was so grateful for the guidance of the customer service team since safety always comes first! We scheduled an HVAC electrician to come out {a regular electrician won't do this job for you}, and he confirmed the wiring was compatible and showed me what I need to know to do the job myself when we are ready to add a second Hive Active Thermostat on our main floor.

I love the sleek design of the Hive Active Thermostat, but you might have noticed that it's square rather than rectangular like our old thermostat. I was worried about how big of a hole we would find in the drywall when we removed the old thermostat, and whether the Hive unit would cover it, but it turns out that Hive was already one step ahead of me. In the box, they provide a rectangular backplate that can be used for just this situation!


I planned to paint this backplate to match our dark wall color, but once the old thermostat was removed, I realized that the hole for the wires was actually very small and I could instead just fill a small screw holes and touch up the wall paint. So I didn't end up needing the backplate after all, but I was so glad to have it as a back up plan just in case!


How great does the new Hive Active Thermostat™ look in our bedroom?! So sleek and modern compared to that old, clunky white box!


Yes, I know, I should be talking about the function rather than the style - and I will, but seriously... it's so pretty!


Ok, now let's talk function! The Hive Active Thermostathas a digital screen that appears when you touch it, so you can adjust the temperature right here without needing to use the app {perfect for the middle of the night when we just want it a little warmer or cooler}...


... but the app also allows us to easily program the thermostat and control it from anywhere! The Hive app is so simple and intuitive - the "control" screen allows you to drag up or down to adjust the current temperature in the room, and the "schedule" screen makes it quick and easy to set a schedule that fits our lifestyle.


The weather in Denver can be really fickle! It's just as likely to be 60 in January as it is to be snowing in May. Being able to adjust the temperature and change the schedule of our thermostat from anywhere is going to provide us so much peace of mind! No longer will we have to worry about the house getting too cold and the pipes freezing if Denver gets hit by an unexpected storm while we are traveling, and we also won't be wasting money to heat the house when it suddenly feels like summer in the middle of winter! 

The Hive smart home ecosystem products just hit the market in the US last week, and I can already tell they are going to be a big success here! The easy self-install approach makes it so convenient, and the app interface is incredibly intuitive and user-friendly! The Hive Welcome Home Plan is available for a low monthly subscription fee that eliminates upfront device costs, and then you can add on additional components to fit your needs. {The hardware costs investment is precisely what had stopped us from going the smart home route before now!}


And, as I mentioned above, I was beyond impressed with my first experience with the Hive customer service team {and they had no idea who I was when I reached out to them, so I wasn't getting any sort of special blogger treatment, if such a thing even exists. LOL}. 

Hive is going to be launching more products and plan options in the US market throughout the next year, and will be based on use-case customer needs and feedback, so if you try out Hive or don't see what you're looking for, be sure to reach out and let them know what you think!

Smart Home 101 DIY smart home ecosystem

Our Hive Home system has already made our home smarter, safer, and overall a better place to live - plus it's going to save us money on our energy bill! I'll definitely be adding to our smart home ecosystem and finding more ways to make our home work harder for us rather than the other way around!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hive. The opinions and text are all mine.

14 comments :

  1. So many cool ideas! I've considered things like this as 'toys' before also, but now you've got me thinking!

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  2. WOW!!! Amazing products and seems so easy to use! I need to show this one to my hubby! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. So easy to use! They'll be releasing more products throughout the year as well!

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  3. Well I now feel like I need to go and get HIVE stuff, and I love that this is DIY! Also, your house is gorgeous! You have such a great eye.

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    1. Thanks so much! And YES, definitely check out HIVE! I love that it's so easy to install yourself, and the way it all works together to create a whole-home system!

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  4. This is so awesome!! I would love to be able to turn off all my lights from my phone. My kids leave them on all the time!

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    1. Right?!! Either that, or my kids won't go upstairs alone because it's too dark... so turning lights on remotely has been a big help to me too!

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    1. Yes! Make ALL THE THINGS smart! The integration is definitely my favorite part!

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  6. This really has me thinking! I've been considering going to a smart home but was worried that my home would be smarter than me!

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  7. I'm being dragged kicking and screaming into having a SMART house hahaha!! But actually, the things we have are very good. I don't have to get up to turn lights on anymore which is pretty cool, but yea... I try and stay up to date, but I sometimes struggle with remembering how to use things, I'm sure I'll get more and more used to it as everything becomes smart!

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  8. One day, I would love to be able to have a smart home, or a home in general, lol. Right now we live in an apartment! It's always crazy to see the technology that keeps coming out!

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    1. The awesome thing is that you could easily add some of the Hive technology into your home, even in an apartment! The light bulbs and smart plug-ins for example can be used anywhere! And because the door sensors and motion sensors just attach using removable adhesive (similar to command strips), they could easily go with you to your next home as well!

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  9. What an awesome system and I'm loving how easy this is to set up! Definitely looking into this for my home!

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