Nest vs Hive: Which is the Best Smart Thermostat in 2020?


For a long time the Nest thermostat by Google was leading the way in terms of smart thermostat technology and others on the market just didn’t compare. However, the latest version of Hive Active Heating by British Gas has levelled the playing field considerably.

So exactly how much daylight is there between the two in the race to the top spot? We’ve compared their key functions and benefits to find out.

Why should you install any smart thermostat?

There is one big reason to install a smart thermostat in your home: to reduce energy wastage. Through increased visibility of your energy usage and easy, intuitive controls it’s easier than ever before to take control of your home’s energy bills and lower your impact on the environment.

NOTE: If your heating bills are really out of control you may also want to consider replacing your existing boiler. Some old G rated boilers are operating at efficiency levels as low as 65% whereas a new gas boiler installed today should be at least 92% efficient. That’s a saving of 27p for every £1 you spend on heating your home!

Complete our simple online form today and get up to 3 free no-obligation quotes from Gas Safe registered engineers near you.

How do smart thermostats reduce energy wastage?

Essentially, smart thermostats automate and give you a greater level of control over your heating system so you avoid using energy you don’t need to. They do this by:

  • Monitoring and learning how you heat your home and programming themselves accordingly
  • Detecting when you are at home via your smartphone’s GPS and/or motion sensor
  • Automatically adjusting to the weather conditions so you avoid overheating on warm days and frozen pipes in winter
  • Responding to website and smartphone controls so you can control your heating wherever you are.
  • Enabling you to heat individual rooms or ‘zones’ in your home separately, so you only heat the areas you need to.

Nest vs Hive: a quick comparison

Product Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation Hive Active Heating 2
Price per thermostat £150 – £200 £179 (plus + £99 if you choose Hive Multizone)
Price with installation Budget approximately an additional £100 to cover the installation. £249
Hot water control? Yes Yes
Design options Stainless Steel / Copper / Black / White Optional frame has 12 colour options (extra cost £19.99)
Mounting Wall mounted / on a stand for display on a shelf or table Wall mounted
Compatible with Combi boilers
System and heat-only boilers
Domestic hot water tanks
Hydronic underfloor systems
Air-source and ground-source heat pumps (heating only)
Heating systems with OpenTherm technology
Gas or LPG central heating system and some Electric Boilers
Requirements Wi-Fi connection with internet accessNest app on phone or tablet with iOS 8 or later, or Android 4.1 or later. Latest version of Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer on Mac OS X v10.9 or later and Windows 7 or later A computer or tablet with internet access and an up-to-date web browser (we recommend; Internet Explorer 10 or the latest versions of Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari). An existing broadband connection. A router with a spare ethernet port connection and an extra power supply close to your broadband router. If you want to use the Hive app, you will need an Apple iPhone or iPad using iOS 7 or later or a device running Android (minimum 4.0.3)
Multi Zone Capability Up to 20 zones, up to two homes Up to 3 zones with Hive Multizone or control individual rooms with Hive Radiator Valves
Warranty 2 years (limited) 1 year
Voice Control Compatible? Google Home
Amazon Echo ‘Alexa’
Amazon Echo ‘Alexa’
Where To Buy: Click to buy from Amazon Click to buy

Buy Your Smart Thermostat Today!



What do they have in common?

Both will give you control of your energy usage via your smartphone, tablet or laptop potentially enabling you to save money on your energy bills. It naturally follows, therefore, that there will be lots of similarities between the two in terms of their functionality.

They will both control temperature, hot water and enable you to programme heating schedules including a holiday mode. Both can detect when temperatures drop too low and activate the heating to prevent your pipes from freezing. There is a GPS feature on both that will track and respond to your location. For example, when you leave or return to the house it will turn the heating on or off as needed. You can fix them on the wall or purchase a stand to display on a shelf or table.

So, what are the differences?

Learning ability

The main difference to consider is that Nest is a learning thermostat. After one week of being installed it will have adapted to the schedule of your home and will anticipate your heating needs without needing to be scheduled.  After this you shouldn’t need to adjust the settings very often at all.  In the case of Hive Active Heating you can schedule up to 6 heating periods, i.e. getting up, morning, afternoon, evening, bedtime, night.  However, the Hive app can’t pick up your habits automatically like a Nest learning thermostat can.

Heating zones

Multi-zone enables you to install multiple thermostats in your home so you can vary the heating in different areas. This is where Hive are lagging behind Nest a little. While Hive Heating can control up to 3 zones in your home, Nest can control up to 20. In addition, Nest also give you the option of installing and controlling thermostats in a second property such as a holiday home.

Power supply

The Nest thermostat needs to be powered by the mains which may restrict where you position it in your home. The Hive thermostat, by contrast, can be powered by AA batteries which gives you more flexibility.  British Gas claim the batteries will last for up to 2 years.

Motion sensor

Although both have the GPS tracking feature, Nest is the only thermostat with a motion sensor to respond to people entering or leaving the home.

Voice control compatibility

Both the Google Nest and Hive thermostats will work with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Monitoring savings

The Nest App has a feature that enables you to see in real time how much energy you are using. It also rewards you with a Leaf symbol when you change the temperature to save energy. The Leaf learns how to help you save and will be different for different homes.


Both thermostats have been designed to look as sleek and modern as possible so, if it’s a deciding factor, it will come down to personal preference. The Nest is a circle with a larger and clearer display. This display is named Farsight and will sense when you enter the room and light up so you can instantly see what the temperature is from across the room. Hive, on the other hand, is a square with a smaller display which requires you to physically press the screen to view the temperature.

Nest is available in a choice of four colours so you can choose the best fit for your decor: Stainless Steel / Copper / Black / White. Hive only comes in a dark grey but it is possible to purchase a coloured frame (12 colours available).

Google also offers the Nest Thermostat E, a simplified and lower cost version of the Nest 3rd Generation.

Home product network

Each company has a range of smart products for the home, but their ranges differ. Nest currently includes security cameras and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. In addition, they have also partnered with certain other manufacturers on ‘Works with Nest’. Any product with this badge can be integrated into your smart network. Hive Heating, no longer happy to be outdone, has recently launched smart plugs, window and door sensors, motion sensors, light bulbs and cameras and has plans to partner with other companies too.

Nest vs Hive: is there a winner?

When it comes to price, there is very little daylight between the two. The price you pay will depend on several factors such as whether you buy directly from the manufacturer or another supplier and any special promotions in place at the time. It’s possible to buy both thermostats with an installation service included.

In several areas it seems that Nest are slightly edging in front. Specifically, the inclusion of a motion sensor, more heating zone capability, Google Home compatibility, the learning of your habits and the energy monitoring feature.

However, the key functionality you need to save money on your energy bills is present in both cases so really your decision will come down to price and how important Nest’s extra frills are.

Buy Your Smart Thermostat Today!



When does a smart thermostat work best?

No matter which smart thermostat you have installed, you’ll only see the very best results if it’s installed alongside an efficient central heating system. If your boiler was installed more than 8 years ago then it won’t be running anywhere near as efficiently as when it was first installed.

So, while a smart thermostat, such as Nest or Hive, will be able to adapt to your central heating habits so that the heating comes on at an efficienct temperature at the most suitable times, you will only see the major reduction in your energy bills that you’re hoping to see if the boiler is able to perform at highly efficient levels.

A Gas Safe registered engineer will be able to make recommendations based on your existing central heating system – get free quotes today.

Get FREE Central Heating Quotes