The Hive Action Plug isn’t the cheapest way to bring automation to your home, but it is well designed and comes with a smartphone app that is easy to use, but offers deep integration with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit and more. The plug requires the Hive Hub to function and lacks a way to track energy consumption.
Works with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit
Easy to create automations
Some hiccups during initial setup
Lacks Samsung SmartThings compatibility
Expensive and requires Hive Hub
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The Hive Active Plug is a single-outlet smart plug designed to work with the Hive smart home ecosystem, including the Hive Active Heating 2 smart thermostat, and Hive smart light bulbs. As such, it requires a Hive Hub connected to your router to function, and so is best suited to those who already have a Hive system
The Hive smart plug works much like any other, letting you turn appliances on and off with the tap of a smartphone app, or by speaking to Alexa, Siri, or the Google Assistant. Deeper smart home integration is offered with support for Philips Hue and IFTTT too, and there is a physical button on the plug for controlling the outlet manually.
Daily and weekly schedules can be created within the Hive app, and a series of customisable actions help integrate the smart plug with other devices in your Hive system, such as window and door sensors, light bulbs, and the Hive View security camera.
One obvious omission is the lack of a function for turning the plug, and anything connected to it, on or off in a pattern to simulate the appearance of a home being occupied. However, a detailed schedule for this can be created manually in the Hive app.
The Hive Active Plug makes most sense for those who already have a Hive system or have decided that Hive is going to form the foundations for their new smart home installation. At £39, this smart plug is considerably more expensive than most others; deals from Hive on packs of three and five plugs help bring the price down, but not by much.
Hive Active Smart Plug price and availability
- RRP: £39
The Hive Active Plug is priced at £39 for one, £109 for three, and £159 for five. It is available from Hive and Amazon in the UK. As of 31 December 2019, Hive products and services are no longer officially available in the US, although some retailers still have stock but this won’t last forever.
- Single smart socket
- Manual power button
- 2.4GHz Wi-Fi only
As with most smart plugs, the Hive Active Plug sports a simple and inoffensive design. It is white plastic with a textured and transparent panel on the front to add a bit of visual flair. Rectangular and fairly compact, although not the smallest smart plug on the market, the Hive measures 10cm tall and 5.4cm wide. It is 3.55cm deep, excluding the pins.
We’re pleased to see how narrow the plug is, meaning it shouldn’t block access to the neighbouring socket, although the extra height means it’ll occupy two spaces when plugged into an extension cable with two rows of sockets facing each other.
The manual power button is surrounded by a simple light ring to show when the plug is switched on. The light changes colour to show when the plug is ready for its initial setup, successfully connected, and when there are connection issues. Interestingly, Hive has opted not to include any branding on the device.
The Active Smart Plug only works on the 2.4GHz band, which may mean you suffer connectivity issues if you’re installing it in a different room to your router.
- Some hiccups during setup
- Instant control via Hive app or voice assistants
- Useful status light
Smart plugs are usually very simple devices to set up and use. And, while the Hive plug should be in practice, we found it initially failed to connect to the Hive Hub attached to our router.
The Hub would search endlessly for the plug, but after a couple of resets of both products, they found each other and all was well. This is likely a common story for many smart home builders, when new products sometimes take some persuading to play nice with each other and with a router.
Once set up, however, everything worked as promised. The plug responds instantly to the Hive app, setting up voice control with Alexa took just a couple of minutes, and its response to our spoken commands was equally speedy.
As with other plugs, a physical click can be heard when the plug switches on or off, helping to confirm the instruction was understood and acted upon, while the LED also offers a visual update on the status of the plug too.
- Easy to use
- Good integration with voice assistants
- Simple to create automations
The Hive app is smartly laid out and setting up schedules and actions is straightforward enough, with a welcome amount of plain language and no confusing tech jargon. This makes the Hive system perfect for those who are new to smart home systems.
The app also does a good job of explaining how Hive devices work with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Siri, Philips Hue and IFTTT, acting as a welcoming and simple launchpad for getting everything set up just how you want. The only obvious omission here is Samsung SmartThings, but all bases are otherwise covered.
Creating schedules is also nice and easy, giving you full control over when the plug switches on and off each day of the week. You can’t pick a precise minute, but splitting each day into 15-minute chunks is granular enough for us. All that’s missing here is an away mode designed to turn a lamp on and off to simulate someone being home while your house is empty.
But, as we alluded to earlier, Hive products require the £80 hub to function, which seriously increases an already loft price tag if you are starting to build a system from scratch. It’s a shame that, unlike many other smart plugs from the likes of TP Link, Hive plugs can’t connect directly to the cloud.
Should I buy the Hive Active Smart Plug?
Buy it if...
You already have a Hive hub
Adding the £80 hub to an already-expensive smart plug is a very expensive way to have Alexa turn your space heater on. But if you are already invested in the Hive way of life, then this smart plug is the obvious choice.
You want simple integration with voice control
Once connected, it’ll open the door to wider home automation and voice control integration. It’s very easy to get the smart plug playing nice with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant via the Hive app, which spells everything out while avoiding too much tech jargon.
You want a discrete, unbranded smart plug
We like how the Hive plug doesn’t have any branding on it, and is a simple, discrete design. It’ll fit in well with the decor of any home, and even the status light and power button are neatly designed.
Don't buy it if...
You’re on a tight budget
Not only is this a fairly expensive smart plug, it also requires the Hive Hub. Buying the two is going to cost in the region of £120.
You don’t want to buy into one system
Once you have the hub you’ll be invested into the Hive system. That could be fine for many users, but others will want the freedom of building a smart home that is more flexible.
You want to use Samsung SmartThings
If you have chosen to build your smart home around SmartThings, then you’ll need to look for a smart plug elsewhere. Hive works with a lot of other systems, but unfortunately SmartThings isn’t one of them.
First reviewed: January 2022
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Alistair Charlton is a freelance technology and automotive journalist based in London. His career began with a stint of work experience at TechRadar back in 2010, before gaining a journalism degree and working in the industry ever since. A lifelong car and tech enthusiast, Alistair writes for a wide range of publications across the consumer technology and automotive sectors. As well as reviewing dash cams for TechRadar, he also has bylines at Wired, T3, Forbes, Stuff, The Independent, SlashGear and Grand Designs Magazine, among others.
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