I often get asked why Hive Active Heating requires three pieces of hardware:
- 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 ;-).