Hive Communication System – ZigBee

Hive active heating architecture

  • Hub – connects into your broadband router via ethernet
  • Boiler module – wired into your boiler and replaces your programmer/scheduler
  • Wireless thermostat – a battery operated thermostat

The Hive Active Heating thermostat is a wireless battery operated one, which means that standard wifi isn’t an appropriate radio technology because it consumes too much power and battery life would be reduced to hours or days unless we made compromises on how long the device goes into sleep mode. We therefore chose Zigbee a low power radio protocol that enables a very long battery life, typically many months and years. Zigbee is also designed to provide mesh network support where multiple devices can talk to each other and use each other as relays to extend range and reduce battery consumption (smaller hops means less power consumption). Unfortunately standard broadband routers from your ISP only support wifi and not Zigbee. The hub provided with Hive Active Heating talks Zigbee to the thermostat and/or the boiler module and then “translates” this into traffic (IP) that can be sent via the broadband router to the cloud servers. If there were no hub to do the zigbee to IP translation we’d be forced to use wifi and that means you’d have to provide mains power to the thermostat that need to talk to the internet.

People often prefer wireless thermostats because it avoids the need for rewiring the house and ruining the decor. It also allows you to place the thermostat where it would be difficult to run wires.

The hub also has the ability to provide “intelligence” to control multiple devices in the home which means each of the end point devices don’t need as much intelligence and can be operated in synch. For example, you could set rules to turn the heating on when you come home and turn the lights on and all that control logic could live in the hub. It leaves options for the future.

Hive support people can do a network wireless scan from their end.  They can see where the devices are.  Interesting to find out if that can be done from the house end.

5 thoughts on “Hive Communication System – ZigBee

  1. I have Hive, it was installed some 2 years ago and worked perfectly ok UNTIL I bought the light bulbs!! They are not fit for purpose, at first I couldn’t connect one of them so Hive sent me a new, and the latest, hub. This seemed to solve the problem, for a while, then the thermostat started to disconnect and had to be rebooted by removing and replacing a battery. This happened every few days, Hive said it was due to firmware updates required for the bulbs so they sent the updates. Worked ok for a few days then thermostat disconnected yet again, this time in middle of January whilst away so house went cold, had to travel back to pick up a signal booster which Hive sent, installed it and Thermostat stayed connected for 6 days! It’s now off again so will have to travel home once again to reboot the Thermostat. The people you speak to at Hive try to be helpful but at the end of the day they are trying to justify a system that is not fit for purpose.

  2. I presume ZigBee are aware of the problem with the Hive unit which requires frequent (every 5 weeks or so) replacement of batteries……this is happening to me. It only started happening after replacement of the original set which had lasted 18 months or more. The Hive customer website records multiple similar complaints……and this seems to have been an issue for some time….years I think.
    Hive were helpful enough when I phoned and are sending a replacement unit but looking at your explanation for the need for the ZigBee architecture in the first place it occurs to me that the problem may lie not with the thermostat but with the hub.

    Either way, I hope ZigBee and Hive are talking as it would certainly seem that Zigbee is failing for one reason or another.

  3. My system went through a series of red light disconnections and reconnections some months ago.
    Eventually I was told that a firmware update had been done remotely !!and this fixed the problem.
    HOWEVER, yesterday 6/4/18 thr red light on the receiver came on AND HAS STAYED CONSTANTLY ON despite all apps saying everything connected!
    emailed them and waiting for a solution as at 07/04/18.

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    Hope this is useful to someone: Same symptoms; repeated thermostat disconnect (red light) from boiler receiver even though both show connected to hub; have had to move hub to within 6 foot (2 metres) of thermostat. Everything worked fine for previous year until battery replacements (after one year and before the warning came on). Also added hive plugs to control stuff as this is a second home. Have had to re-boot thermostat a number of times and also re-synchronise thermostat with receiver. All most annoying.

    Only other change made around the same time as battery change was to add a hive plug close to the boiler receiver (to switch off various wardrobe lights etc when away); and have now removed this. Suspect this could be the problem, I.e. the receiver is very sensitive to noise even from other hive devices.

    In a remote town and occasional mains ‘brown out’ so the hub is now on a battery backed UPS.

    General comments: (1) the hive help desk in UK have not yet engaged after 1 week, other than to ask me for details already provided. (2) there is a dire need for diagnostic logging to be available via some deep menu on the web interface.
    … interestingly on point (2) since the status of my heating in my house could possibly be classed as personal information, and they obviously process it to give me ‘temperature reports’ this may have to be provided under EU GDPR if one asks for it.

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