U.K.’s Hive brings its thermostat and other smart devices to the U.S.

hive smart thermostat us 4
The weather from Liverpool to Leeds likely won’t vary as much as the weather from Syracuse to Savannah, so British smart-home services company Hive took on a tall order in coming to the U.S. British Gas parent company Centrica invested $650 million to bring Hive to North America. It’s taking on competitors such as Nest and Samsung’s SmartThings with its suite of smart-home products.

The difference is that Hive is subscription-based. Users sign up for a two-year contract (early termination fees apply) and get gear to control their homes as part of the cost. The $17-per-month Hive Welcome Home Plan includes the Hive Active Thermostat, two Hive Active Light dimmable bulbs, two Hive window or door sensors, a Hive Active Plug, and the Hive hub.

Those seem to be the only products available at the moment, and the system doesn’t integrate with third-party devices, such as security cameras. “Right now, the focus is on Hive-branded products,” Nina Bhatia, global managing director of Hive, told Digital Trends. “That said, we are continuously exploring new ways to make life easier for customers through carefully curated third-party integrations.”

However, you can use Amazon’s Alexa to control the system with voice commands and use IFTTT to create more robust rules. “We don’t want to overcomplicate the simplicity and reliability of the Hive smart-home experience,” said Bhatia.

Eventually Hive plans on including more subscription tiers: a $10-a-month plan without the thermostat, and then $25-per-month and $40-per-month plans that will include more devices. The $17-per-month plan is only for those who sign up before June 6.

Despite the subscription cost, Hive doesn’t come with professional monitoring — a service Lowe’s is now offering with its Iris products for $15 a month. “Special features like advanced Hive Actions and mimic mode, allowing you to mimic your home’s lighting when you are away, give added peace of mind and are just a couple of examples of services that are coming further down the line,” said Bhatia. Instead, the model is sort of a try-instead-of-buy, as long as you don’t mind trying for two years.

Hive is planning on bringing more solutions to the market this year, based on what its customers are asking for.

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