Hive Active Light review: are these smart bulbs worth the hype?

Read our Hive Active Light review if you're thinking of investing in these popular smart bulbs – we reveal whether they're easy to use and if they're worth the hype

Hive Active Light review
(Image credit: Hive)
Real Homes Verdict

Not the most expansive smart lighting platform, but easy to set up with your existing Hive products

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Simple to install

  • +

    Good for beginners

  • +

    Works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No Apple HomePod support

  • -

    Can't buy specific lamps that can work away from your traditional light socket

  • -

    Will need to buy a bridge – cannot just buy the bulbs

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Looking for an honest Hive Active Light review? Well, you've come to the right place. With smart lighting amongst the most popular ways to embrace smart home technology, we wanted to ensure you're investing in the best smart bulbs to suit your needs.

Amongst the most popular models are the Hive Active Lights, which we've reviewed below. You may know Hive thanks to their super popular smart thermostat system, but today we're here to talk about lighting. Read our thoughts below.

Then, when you're done, read our guide to the best smart bulbs, where we compare the best makes and models for your interest. For more smart home news, advice and honest reviews, we'd also recommend heading over to The Hub.

Hive active lightbulb review

(Image credit: Hive)

Hive Active Light features

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

If you already have Hive gadgets in your home, it’s likely you’ll be thinking about Hive Active Lights if you're looking to expand your set up. So, here's everything you need to know:

You will need a bridge to connect your smart lighting

It's worth noting that you can’t just buy these smart bulbs and plug them in. Hive Active Lights need to be connected to either a Hive Hub or Hive Hub 360 in order to sync up with your phone. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to get one to be able to connect up your bulbs to the internet. 

If you already have Hive gadgets though, it’s a no-brainer to opt for these smart lights as it all works through the same system. The connection process to link each bulb up with the Hive Hub is easy to figure out, and you’ll then be able to control each individual light through the app.

A range of bulb varieties available

The Hive Active Light range has a vast variety of different types of bulb, and many come with the choice of either screw or bayonet connectors. Often you can buy them in multi-packs to save money, but you can also buy them separately for when you need a specific number of bulbs.

Once they’re all plugged in and set up, you’ll then be able to make the most of the smart features on offer.

Easy to use app

The app is where you’ll have the most control. All Hive light bulbs can have different warmth or brightness, while if you opt for the Colour Changing Smart Light Bulb range you’ll have the option for over 16 million different hues of light too.

This is all easy to change within the app through three settings called ‘Dimmer’, ‘Tone, and ‘Colour’. Each features a virtual wheel you can spin to find the exact setting you’re looking for. 

It can be a little fiddly to set these up at first, but it gives you thousands of options meaning you can find the exact settings you’re looking for even if it takes you a little time to do so.

Schedule your lighting

You can set up a schedule for your lighting too, which means you can come home to your lights already on during a winter’s evening. Or, you can give the impression that someone's home, even if they're not. or you can have it so it looks like someone is home when you’re away. 

Scheduling your lighting routine in the app is easy to do, but there’s a great amount of depth that allows you to truly customise the program.

Individual days can have different schedules, meaning if you want your lights to be on at 6PM on weeknights you don’t have to have that setup for Saturday and Sunday too when you may already be at home.

If you just want to make it look like someone is at home but don’t want to schedule your lights, there’s also a setting called Mimic. This will change the lights at random so if anyone is watching your home while you’re away, it won’t look like your lights are on a specific schedule.

Hive Active Light and voice control

If you’ve got a smart speaker with built-in Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can connect it up to control your smart lights with your voice.

Those with Apple’s HomePod speaker are yet to get support for Hive, but it’s something the company has said it’d like to provide in the future.

Hive app

(Image credit: Hive)

Other smart features

Aside from the basics, Hive Active Lights offer a variety of additional features, too. Some of our favourites include:

Connect to a wider smart home system

One of the most interesting smart features of Hive Active Lighting is the way you can connect it to other gadgets. For example, if you have a Hive door sensor you can have it that your lights turn off when you leave on a morning.

Automate various functions around your home

There are lots of these actions available in the app, and some connect to your Hive thermostat or smart plugs you have set up in your home so you can fully automate processes around the house.

You can even build your own features using other smart gadgets you’ve got around your home, but this can get a little complicated so expect to spend a bit of time setting this up.

Hive also supports IFTTT (that stands for If This, Then That) which is an app that allows you to set up your own routines with your phone in a similar way to the feature we’ve mentioned above. If you own Philips Hue lighting, you can also connect them to the Hive app and control them alongside your Active Light bulbs too.

Is Hive Active Light worth the money?

The suite of smart features isn’t as expansive as Philips Hue, and unlike that brand you won’t be able to buy specific lamps that can work away from your traditional light socket either.

That said, if you’re already set up with other Hive products such as its smart thermostat you’ll find it simple to just add Hive Active Lights to your home.

It’s a shame there isn’t yet Apple HomePod support, but if you own an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant speaker you’re in luck. This isn’t the most expansive smart lighting platform, but the company’s suite of smart features makes this a good starting point for anyone beginning to adopt gadgets into their home.

As UK wearables editor for TechRadar, James covers the latest portable gadgets. This has given him a comprehensive knowledge of connectable tech and voice-activated assistants, so he is basically Real Homes' version of Alexa/Siri