Hive Active Light Starter Kit full review
Hive isn't only about controlling your heating from your phone. Hive has now introduced additional accessories to add to your Hive Active Heating smart home environment, including smart sensors and active plugs. And then there is the smart Hive Active Light family: a series of bulbs that allows you to control your lighting using the Hive App from anywhere at any time. The range comes in three flavours (or should we say colours). An Active Light Bulb, a Cool to Warm White bulb and a Colour changing bulb. At £19, £29 and £44 respectively in the UK, and $24, $29 and $39 in the US. They all come in screw- or bayonet fittings.
You can get the starter kit if you don't already have a Hive Hub. But we assume that if you're looking at the Hive smart lighting, that you already have Hive installed in your home and thus have the Hub connected to your home network.
We tested the £44 Colour changing bulb, and installed it in our existing Hive heating system to see how well it works. (For more on Hive, see our best smart heating systems article.)
Installing Hive Active Light
Installing the Hive Active Light bulb was simple. The quick instructions that come in the pack are worth a read before you start but, basically, you just screw the bulb into the lamp, switch it on - the bulb won't light up - then launch the Hive App on your mobile, tablet or laptop, and select the option to install a new device. This worked without any issues and we were up and running within seconds. There's an option to rename the light in the app, to make it something more recognisable. This is a nice touch, especially if you have more than one Hive Active Light bulb in your home. You'll want to control them separately - that's the whole point.
Next you can choose to configure to your specific needs your Active Light bulb, using the Hive App. As ours is the colour-changing bulb we have options to change the colour of the light, selecting from a whole spectrum. Or we can keep it white. But as with the cheaper Cool to Warm White bulb we can choose a cool white or a warm white or anything in between. Basically, we are choosing light to suite our mood. There is also a dimmer option to change the bulb's intensity. Which is a good thing because at 100 percent the light is actually quite strong (also a good thing).
These features may seem somewhat frivolous, but there is a lot to be said for being able to set the temperature of your light. Bright lights in the morning will help you wake up, but may irritate your eyes. When watching TV in the evening you will want a softer light than you do during the working day. (See also: Hive vs Nest thermostats.)
Scheduling Hive Active Light
Apart from colour options, we found one more major configuration that might be very useful: that is the bulb schedule option. You have a weekly calendar where you can set up when the light comes on and when it switches off. You can choose different times for each day, add more times, or keep it simple and copy one schedule for the whole week with a simple 'copy and save' option. It is exactly as you might use your smart heating, but for light.
One thing we missed: in the scheduled section, we couldn't find a way to schedule the light to go from dim to light really slowly. This felt like an ideal use case to us, as it would help us wake up in the morning. We asked Hive to clarify if this is possible, and a spokesperson told us that it can be done, but is a little fiddly and the light won't automate the process. Basically, you would set a schedule at 7am for 5 percent dimmable, then 7:05 at 10 percent dimmable, then 7:10 at 15 percent and so on. It's not actually as difficult as it sounds, but not straight forward.
The thing to remember is that the lamp needs to be switched on the whole time, and the bulb is controlled by the App or run on the schedule. You can turn it on or off any time, but you need to use the Hive App to do so, not the lamp switch. This does take some time to get use to, and could cause some confusion for family members or guests who reach for the light switch not realising that it is merely an override. (See also: How to make your home a smart home.)
How Hive Active Light worked in our home
We found that overall the smart LED Hive Active Light worked as advertised. However, we had one incident when we were not home and the bulb switched on by itself, scaring a family member that was home. Even though it was not scheduled to be on at that time. Once notified, we were able to remotely use the Hive App from our office to turn off the light again. We're not sure what went wrong that time. It probably won't happen to you, but it is only fair to mention.
Assuming you have one of the Hive Motion Detectors as well, you can program the light to come on when it senses movement in the relevant room. (We don't have this extra device so were not able to test this feature.) For more on Hive, see our best smart heating systems article.
Hive Active Light Starter Kit: Specs
- Screw or bayonet light bulb
- Requires Hive Hub
- 806 lumens
- Power Consumption: 9.5W
- Energy Rating: A+
- Operating Voltage: 220-240V
- Colour Spectrum: RGBW
- Colour Temperature: 2700K-6500K
- L70 Lifetime: 25,000 Hrs
- Beam Angle: 240 degrees
- For indoor use only