back to article Bit nippy, is it? Hive smart home users find themselves tweaking thermostat BY HAND

Brit energy company Centrica's Hive smart home devices went missing in action this morning with a major outage confirmed across much of the app estate, forcing users to tweak manual controls for heating, hot water and surveillance cameras. Login wobbles, as revealed by the status page, began at 9:44 UTC across the HiveHome …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A smart meter is getting installed over my dead body, more unnecessary tech for the sake of it.

    The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Smart meter, plumbing, thermostat ??? You seem to be confusing things.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        It's a valid statement in its own right.

    2. Halfmad Silver badge

      But it's not for the sake of it - it's so that utility companies can tweak plans to charge us more, so the government can justify funding this farce (via our money) and so we can strip away our critical national infrastructure to the bare minimum of resilience.

      I don't have one either.

    3. tony72

      While I agree with you about smart meters, having a cloud-dependant thermostat and other smart home stuff goes a bit beyond a simple smart meter. Nothing would stop working if you had a smart meter outage, other than the power company not being able to monitor your energy usage, at least as far as I understand the current situation.

      But yeah, I have so far stayed well clear of any "smart home" gear, and if I ever did get on board, I would not buy anything that wasn't capable of working in an offline mode when called upon.

      1. EU time zones

        Except that a Smart Meter can turn off your supply remotely. Imagine a failing system that shut down the meters and then finally fell over.

        Integration is both a strength and a weakness.

        Or if you are old, 'All eggs in one basket'.

        Only EVER link up things that really need to be connected. And even then, plan to cope when the linkage breaks.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          The whole power grid can be shutdown today because of IT failures, don't worry...

        2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

          Errr, possibly for Electricity. Not for Gas.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            For gas as well, how long do you think the pressure in the gas lines will stay up once the pumps are turned off? And how do you think those pumps are controlled?

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              "

              how long do you think the pressure in the gas lines will stay up once the pumps are turned off? And how do you think those pumps are controlled?

              "

              Gas pressure is maintained by gasometers, which work by gravity, so pressure will stay up until the gasometer is empty even if there is a total power outage. When the gasometer needs to be filled I should think the pumps are (or can be) operated manually.

              1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

                "Gas pressure is maintained by gasometers"

                Errr.... No.

                You actually mean "gasholders" but again: no.

              2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

                Urmmm about those...

                Gasmeters aren't used any more. Most have been dismantled or will be. Our reserves now live in the main line pipes only.

                Gasmeters were a throw back to days of coal gas where gas needed to be accumulated and stored for winter but not anymore.

              3. DuncanLarge Silver badge

                "Gas pressure is maintained by gasometers, which work by gravity, so pressure will stay up until the gasometer is empty"

                There is no gasholder infrastructure in the UK at all. All the gas in the pipes is all the gas we have.

                They are all mothballed. None of them are in use any more and are usually listed, demolished (the 3 that sat next to my workplace went last year :( or they get turned into flats.

                Of course I think that getting rid of them is a pathetically stupid idea. You cant underrate emergency capacity, but apparently someone thought that the pipes are enough. I remember hearing during the beast from the east that the pipe capacity was being pushed to its limits, I turned to look at the gasholders being demolished outside my window and thought I was in a sitcom.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        We got installed "smart meters" years ago, now recently replaced with a version 2.0, and they are quite "passive" devices. They do transmit data back to the power grid company, but they don't need continuous inputs from it to work. Actually it was "registered" using a portable device when it was installed. I guess if they can't transmit they buffer data until a connection is re-established.

        For many reasons, including safety ones, I don't think they can stop power for an internal fault.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What your smart meter can do

          What your smart meter does depends on which generation and market it was designed for. When specs include the requirement of an active account to function you can be sure that means remote disconnection.

          Shutting off power in case of a fault or fire is one of the "selling" points.

          That same feature is mentioned with grow ops and theft. The power company no longer needs to send somebody to shut off power for whatever reason.

          That was a major selling point for getting power companies on board. Consider the advantage when it comes to billing disputes.

          A mouse click removes power until demands are met. Customers wanting to complain never have to be dealt with personally, never have to be seen or heard of by anyone with any authority to change the demands.

          No longer will the company have someone see that the old couple in the house needs help and that the power shouldn't be shut off. They can shut off the power remotely and claim plausible deniablity during the inquest into the deaths after the couples frozen bodies are found by neighbours.

          BTW that last bit was from an actual example just in case anyone things such things don't happen.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: What your smart meter can do

            That remote disconnection can be undone quite easily by bypassing the meter completely. I know I am not supposed to do it, but if it is a choice between being naughty and freezing to death ...

            1. MiguelC Silver badge

              Re: What your smart meter can do

              _You_ might be able to do it, but not everyone is... but then, no one should be using this pseudo-smart crap...

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: What your smart meter can do

                The only things necessary are a (very) basic understanding of electricity, a couple of inches of electric wire (correct colour code optional), a screwdriver and a knife to strip away the insulation from the new wires.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: What your smart meter can do

                  It's not the stripping away of the insulation from the new wires that is the issue. It's the stripping away the insulation from the existing wires that can be a little troublesome.

                  Mine's the one with the 1000v safety gloves in the pocket.

                  1. Stevie Silver badge

                    Re: What your smart meter can do

                    One thousand volts at the service entrance for a domestic domicile of the house variety?

                    Disbelieve, old chap.

                    1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

                      Re: What your smart meter can do

                      Not 1000 volt incoming - but that's the safety rating for tools and gloves used on live mains..... Low Voltage, as it is technically known.

                    2. jake Silver badge

                      Re: What your smart meter can do

                      Stevie, you've never heard of a factor of safety? Presumably, you'd be OK with your automotive braking system only being designed and built for halting your vehicle from speeds at or below the highest approved road speed in your jurisdiction?

                      1. Stevie Silver badge

                        Re: you've never heard of a factor of safety

                        Yes I have, but since the insulation on the wire you'll likely be using when you run your fiendish smart-meter bypass probably has a 600 volt rating I thought someone should take the piss.

                        Also, good luck fiddling with the wires while wearing said gloves.

                        "Engineers". Pfft.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: you've never heard of a factor of safety

                          0 rated electrician gloves are 1000v hence the 1000v gloves. The insulation of the wire isn't a concern. Fidling with the wires wearing said gloves would not be an issue unless to accidentally touch to a large potential difference - which you wouldn't be doing on unless the device being bypass is faulty or has a high resistance.

                          Maybe your joke is just too subtle or too clever?

                  2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                    Re: What your smart meter can do

                    You don't strip the existing wires, you just slip in the new ones next to them.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: What your smart meter can do

                      or use the piggyback terminals on the service head (Mine dates from the 1970s and still has that "feature")

                      Also don't have a smart meter, changed supplier to a tiny one to avoid the "upgrade" being forced by SSE, new supplier were quite happy to mark me down as not interested, couldn't understand why though, until I pointed out very clearly that they have serious security failings, my street is in the shadow of multiple masts and the concept of "rolling brownouts" by remote didn;t appeal to me

          2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            Re: What your smart meter can do

            "A mouse click removes power until demands are met"

            Unless the household has a basic line-powered land line phone I wonder how they will contact the supplier to argue.

            Their mobile devices will die after a day or so of having no charge. Their wifi is dead. DECT cordless phones are dead.

            Hmm the payphone at the end of the road is dead/turned into something else. Working payphones are all the way in the town centre.

            Neighbors still haven't started talking to you after your cat shat in their garden and you both ended up having heated words, no chance of using their phones then.

            My god, cutting off power these days would really be an effective way to force people to do what they are told, even if you are a supplier miss-selling things, overcharging etc.

            I have a nice big tall prickly Yucca plant standing like a sentinel right in front of my outdoor meter. They will have to contend with that should they try and install a smart meter. I work in IT and there is no way in hell I'm having a smart anything controlling something that critical.

          3. Phage

            Re: What your smart meter can do

            Citations needed.

            The only plausible story I can find that looks like what your referring to is this one. In which no smart meters were involved at all, but the gas cut off after *two personal visits* by British Gas staff.

            http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3342059.stm

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          But if its a smart meter

          and its not telling you energy costs due to the 'server' being offline its just a useless pile of shit. I refuse to have a smart meter until I can have one that will allow my home energy management device of my choosing can poll the device to find pricing on a minute by minute basis AT WORST. Ideally I'd like one that can tell my home energy management device a moment before the price is to change.

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: But if its a smart meter

            Smart meters are indeed a bad idea with all kinds of downsides.

            Their primary long-term purpose, however, is to implement load-shedding at the consumer end. When they aren't allowed to fire up nuclear/coal, and the wind hasn't picked up, and the solar falls over (nobody yet has any real-time statistics about how much solar comes into the UK grid, even those "monitoring" websites are just guesswork for solar), then they can turn off your highest-draw circuits or brown-out customers at will.

            Then they can charge you more for "Electricity Prime" where they won't do that to you. Despite the fact that you're already paying per unit for everything you use anyway, and it's actually in the energy company's interests for you to burn everything you possibly can for as long as possible (which is why asking energy companies to lead the renewable energy message is just stupid... "Hey, stop using our product!").

            I have to say, at that point, I will seriously consider "off-grid", whether I'm in a suburban semi or not. My base power usage is quite pathetic, and my peak can all be pushed to one particular day/time in a week/month (for which, hell, fire up a generator).

            At the moment, the standing charges form quite a chunk of my bill. I don't have gas and use only about 4KWh electricity a day, averaged over the entire year (winter and summer). I think I'd rather spend the money (wasteful though it is) on kit to generate that, than give it to electricity companies who are charging me the privilege of a cable in the ground and annual price rices.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Primary long term purpose

              Primary long term purpose, short term purpose, and medium term purpose, is to get more money from government and the masses.

              Smart meters exist for profit. All other "reasons" are selling points or sales pitches, including load shedding and grid stability.

              System operators already had and have the ability to load shed, increase or decrease voltage, add or remove vars. Some of the most stable systems use 1950's tech.

              But Load shedding is part of the sales pitch. Being able to handle renewable unstable and unreliable sources of generation was also part of the sales pitch. Being able to operate the grid closer to instability and failure is pitched as a good thing and it is if you do not have to pay for the consequences.

              IMO we should all look at it as Lee does. What is best for you?

              For many going off grid makes a lot of sense both when it comes to their own money and reliability.

              Everyone around here has fossil fuel powered generators thanks to unreliable power. Some have looked at the math and determined that it would be cheaper to disconnect from the grid and run them full time. In at least one case it would be cheaper to buy little Honda generators and run them continuously to failure and replace with new.

              If our power suppliers gave a damn about anything other than profit they wouldn't charge those who use the least the most per unit. This wouldn't be the case if we had better regulation and accountability to citizens but it is what it is.

            2. Chris G Silver badge

              Re: But if its a smart meter

              @Lee D

              I live 2.5Km from the nearest power line, have a 24v 11Kw Solar installation, the last two days have been cloudy and wet, I still have plenty of power for my fridge and freezer, lighting, entertainment, my workshop and, most important my kettle. I cook with bottled gas, at the moment my hot water is LPG too but I am installing a solar collector this year as well as an immersion heater, granted I live in Spain and have more sun but for the investment made so far I am more than happy to be off grid. Even my water is from a well owned by a cooperative that I have shares in, I pay about €12/month that includes watering what has been a very dry 3000sq metre garden this winter.

              The only meter I have is mine for measuring how much water I use on my almond and orange trees.

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: But if its a smart meter

                My PV has been in for 5 years now. I get FIT and even in one of the wettest and hence darkest parts of the SW it will have paid for itself this year. I've looked at hive and other management systems but I've got a remote control for the immersion and storage heaters that cost about £25 which just needs a look out the window and you turn it on if its sunny and leave it on the dinner table to turn it off at lunch when every things warmed up.

            3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: But if its a smart meter

              My base power usage is quite pathetic

              Sadly, mine isn't - one internal tropical fish tank (300 litres, with 2 filters), one external pond pump, one server and misc storage devices upstairs (and aircon in the summer) plus the heating requirements of keeping 7 cats happy (and me - t'wife is happy to just put several more jumpers on)..

              All in all, our electricity use is about equivalent to a stadard family of four. Including teenagers (which, fortunately, we don't have)

          2. proto-robbie
            Boffin

            Re: But if its a smart meter

            Minute by minute billing isn't going to happen. Half-hourly is the highest frequency, and currently only for high rollers.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: But if its a smart meter

              "Minute by minute billing isn't going to happen. Half-hourly is the highest frequency, and currently only for high rollers"

              Maybe billing that way isn't going to happen for end users at home/office/whatever.

              But the miracle of 'market forces' has already created niches for aggregators who can 'demand manage' their end users loads on a minute by minute basis, and the aggregators can be paid for doing so, in the guise of 'balancing services'.

              Vcharge, the US company which was bought by Ovo (them again) a couple of years ago, was an early example of such a demand management/aggregation operation, there had been others previously..

    4. Kez

      I have often wondered whether you can render the 'smart' functions of a so-called smart meter inoperable by wrapping the thing in foil. Alternatively, if you find yourself with a smart meter (e.g. by moving into a property with one pre-installed), is there anything stopping you from tearing the thing from the wall and installing a good old dumb meter?

  2. defiler Silver badge

    Adjust the thermostat BY HAND??

    Like some kind of SAVAGE??!

    I'd rather freeze.

  3. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Crippled by technology

    Thermostats are for wimps. I just throw another log on the fire.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Crippled by technology

      "Thermostats are for wimps. I just throw another log Centrica engineer on the fire."

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Crippled by technology

        Thermostats are for wimps. I just throw another log Centrica engineer manager on the fire."

        FTFY. Don't blame the poor frontline grunt having to do the work - blame the one sat comfortably in the office overseeing the whole mess.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Crippled by technology

          He'll have more lard on his body as well ;)

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Crippled by technology

            "Cold weather is just God's way of telling us to burn more Catholics!"

            Lady Whiteadder.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Crippled by technology

      While that cutting-edge technology is only familiar to me from past, quite occasional bouts of (allegedly) recreational retreat from civilisation, if I never again have to get awakened at dawn to the realisation that in spite of my best jenga-fu the fire has probably died down soon after midnight and I'm permafrost-levels of frozen solid even under the covers, it will still be too friggin' soon.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Crippled by technology

        the fire has probably died down soon after midnight

        When I were a lad, we didn't have newfangled things like central heating - we had (in a 4/5 bedroom house) a bunch of storage heaters in common open areas and one or two gas fires (bottom of the stairs - strictly prohibited from being left on overnight, one in the lounge and one in the back bedroom - also not allowed on overnight).

        So by about 5pm, all the storage heaters had got cold and the gas fires didn't do much other than stop ice forming on the insides of the windows. And, in the back bedroom, ice *would* form on the insides of the window overnight.

        Hence why I enjoy living in a nice, warm, centrally-heated house now. And having (sort of - it seems to spontaneously turn itself down when my wife walks past it[1]) control of the thermostat.

        [1] Which is the only argument I can think of for having an IoT thermostat - she would refuse to have anything to do with it and I'd have sole control.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crippled by technology

      Good luck with that in the UK soon, given the 38% of air pollution they generate.

      Seems a "house coal" and "wet wood ban" is coming very soon, not soon enough.

      All the retailers who jumped on this solid fuel fad should face financial penalties for the air pollution they supplied. The stove industry - a group that makes double glazing salespeople and used car dealers look saintly in comparison, should be hauled over the coals ala VW, for their misleading advertising, their claims of being "carbon neutral", "green" "sustainable" were dubious at best and downright lying in reality

      My solution - anyone with a solid fuel appliance is required to have a yearly safety inspection -say minimum £200, burn permit (expensive to "nudge" people in the right direction and escalator charging applying for the most dirty stoves), regulate maximum woodpile size (again "nudge" theory - tiny woodpile size to make it more of a hassle and thus "nudge" folk to cleaner fuels), requirement for keeping of accurate records of wood held and its moisture content) and require it to be say 10-15 metres from nearest home as per wooden structures as per building regs. (yet again "nudge" theory, make it a hassle)

      Also prohibit sale of new solid fuel appliances

      Why? Because if we are essentially banning any diesel vehicle made pre 2015 from any city and transport only accounts for 12% of air pollution and said air pollution is localised to within a few metres of the road, then surely we should be prohibiting the use of solid fuel appliances, when they generate over 38% of air pollution and can contaminate a wide area, particularly on damp and cold nights where the emissions sink to ground level. Sick of not being able to go out on walks after dark due to faddy wood stoves belching out smoke and thus coming back coughing and stinking of smoke, far worse than any bar pre smoking ban.

      1. Nick Kew

        Re: Crippled by technology

        Sick of not being able to go out on walks after dark due to faddy wood stoves belching out smoke

        Luxury! Just wait 'til your neighbour gets one and your own home suddenly becomes uninhabitable for many hours a day, six months a year. Extra points if it's a neighbour somewhere between west and southwest and a little downhill from you[1].

        [1] Adjust to prevailing winds locally if different to Blighty.

      2. batfink Silver badge

        Re: Crippled by technology

        Enforce maximum woodpile size? So you don't like the idea of people burning dry wood then?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Crippled by technology

          It's a greenaholic. It thinks that burning anything is evil.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Crippled by technology

          So you don't like the idea of people burning dry wood then?

          OldestBrother owns a tree-surgery company (free wood - unless the client wants to keep the bits of tree, he & the tree gangs split it between them. The good bits he saves for wood turning, the rest goes into his wood shelter to dry off) and recently upgraded his existing wood stove to a bigger one with a back boiler.

          It suits him and the fuel is free. And, since he lives out in the country and burns seasoned wood, low pollution.

      3. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: Crippled by technology

        "Good luck with that in the UK soon, given the 38% of air pollution they generate."

        Define "pollution". In terms of global pollutants like CO2, woodburning stoves are neutral. Trees do grow on trees, after all, and there's plenty of managed forests here in the UK so no reason to specially import endangered rainforests or anything (unfortunately it does still happen, but enforcing sustainable wood would not mean banning fires). When it comes to local pollutants like the currently popular NOx, that's only relevant in places where it actually builds up. As you note yourself, vehicles get restricted from operating in cities, not in the Scottish highlands.

        So why should it be any different for things like stoves? There are plenty of remote rural buildings that don't even have the option of gas heating and are forced to rely on either solid fuel or oil. Crippling them just because central London is stinking shithole is hardly a sensible or proportionate response. Local restrictions in places that actually have issues with things like NOx, and have sensible alternatives available, probably make sense. Blanket bans on everyone, even in places where wood is easily the cleanest and most sustainable option, would just be stupid.

    4. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: Crippled by technology

      Logs ! Luxury ! When I were a lad...

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Crippled by technology

      Thermostats are for wimps. I just throw another log on the fire

      Surely one has a butler or parlour maid to do that?

  4. Craig 2
    Facepalm

    "my hive system says major outage. I have no heating or hot water. "

    Home-critical systems controlled by a remote internet-connected server... what could go wrong?

  5. David 18

    I have just one thing to say....

    HAAAA HAAAA HAAAA HA HAA HAAAA HAAAAAA HAAAAA HA!

  6. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Hive is shit.

    It overshoots the target every morning, meaning if you don't want to boil in your bed you need to set it to come on in steps. It doesn't learn. If it's cold out, it'll undershoot rather than overshoot.

    It makes no effort to work out that it should start turning on earlier or later based on the weather, nor does it learn that if needs to turn off before the target temp because the temp will continue rising afterwards.

    I'm sure they just have one overworked but lazy developer working on it.

    I wish I'd bought a Honeywell.

    1. Nick L

      So much this. In fact, I wish I'd built my own using a set of relays on the HomeAssistant install on a raspberry pi. I went with Hive on the grounds I thought it would be more reliable, and intelligent.

      Ha.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        having your pi and eating it too

        and the pi doesn't have to be connected to a cloud server either. You can have a little app that tunnels in via ssh and just gives it commands on cue, in addition to the automated timers you would put on there.

        Wouldn't be too hard to connect to a public weather service if you want it to be a bit smarter too.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: having your pi and eating it too

          public weather service

          Unless one has a weather station mounted on the side of ones house. Like wot I have :-)

      2. channelswimmer

        Jokers!

        They had a problem where if you had lights as well as heating, your heating would stop working. Here's the thing - they knew this full well, but if you called them they just went through the tedious process of reinitialising everything.This went on for months.Eventually I worked it out and took out the lights and waited for them to come up with a fix, which took a few more months. Amateurs.

    2. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

      Honeywell Hahaha

      I have a Honeywell thermostat. I can vouch for the fact that it works fine if internet-disconnected. Honeywell test this as their servers/systems go down regularly 'please check your internet connection'.

      Sorry, my homenet and links to ourside world are fine - your servers are cr***ed.

      would prefer if it had option for ethernet link rather than 2.4Ghz wifi....

      Seemed least connection-dependant smart thermostat I could find without learning & buying Rpi system+software....

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Honeywell Hahaha

        Hive works with no Internet, it's just the mobile phone app that doesn't. You can still use the dial on the thermostat.

        It's the other features that should be in a "smart" thermostat such as adjusting based on the weather that are missing.

    3. Nano nano

      You are very wrong in your supposition, but there have been organisational changes ....

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Can you tell me more? Have they laid off a load of developers or hired a load?

        ( Should I expect more new features or less ? )

        1. jake Silver badge

          "( Should I expect more new features or less ? )"

          Fewer.

          (You'll get more. Because marketing.)

  7. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Race of Morons

    I can understand that there are some people for who such technology makes a big difference to their life -ie. those with disabilities.

    But for most people, WTF.... And then they sit around whining they have no heating or hot water - and ask British Gas what is going on? Perhaps they should have given a bit more thought before they installed such PoS - or maybe work out where the manual overide is.....

    Have we really started to breed a race of incompetent morons......

    Maybe it's just me, but I tend to adjust my thermostat about twice a year. Last week in fact, I turned it right down as the heating was coming on whilst I had all the doors and windows open. Assuming this current cold bit this week doesn't go on for more than a day or two, I'll probably next adjust it in October.. Why do people insist on overcomplicating their life for the sake of it?

    1. David 18

      Re: Race of Morons

      "Have we really started to breed a race of incompetent morons......"

      Yes, it started quite a while ago.

      8< "Why do people insist on overcomplicating their life for the sake of it?"

      Cos, cos, cos.... it's simpler :D (and new and shiny)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Race of Morons

        Pretty sure it started with using fire.

        Digging around and hunting for food is far simpler than having to cook everything with fire.

        Fire complicates everything. Making it, keeping it, transporting it and keeping it fed is complexity we can do without.

        Well, when I say we.....

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Race of Morons

          "Pretty sure it started with using fire."

          Actually fire is generally considered by anthropologists to have contributed to humans being able to grow a bigger brain by virtue of the fact that humans cooking needed less time foraging, could eat more efficiently and do more with a smaller digestive tract allowing them to fuel a bigger brain. Fire was a much bigger event than coming up with the wheel. In spite of what Audi drivers think.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Race of Morons

            The wheel? Over-rated. Think about it, what use is a wheel all by itself?

            The REAL invention was the axle!

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Race of Morons

      Have you heard of storage heaters? If you've got PV on a day like today which is mostly sunny then you can have free heating in the evening with them. I'd imagine as wind and solar keep growing there will be times when you will want to use the cheap electricity for warming up your storage heaters (or heating a large hot water tank) too as it could well be a lot lot cheaper than your oil or gas heating. I dont mind it complicated if I'm in control and it saves me a lot of money.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Race of Morons

        "Have you heard of storage heaters?"

        Yep. Mine provide cooling, too. I run GSHPs.

      2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: Race of Morons

        Electric Storage heater are utter shite and I speak from dealing with the stupid things growing up and in several houses after I got my own place, your either too hol (and windows wide open) or shivering.

        Always had condensation in houses with them, current place has gas central heating and its great and costs about 1/2 as much to tun despite living in a house twice the size in an exposed location vs previous tiny house in a very sheltered location.

        Useless terrible things that should have been banned years ago (and thats without mentioning a lot of the old ones are loaded with friable asbestos)

        1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

          Re: Race of Morons

          We had storage heaters back in the 60s / 70s. The house was boiling at breakfast time, and freezing when I got home from school.

          IIRC wasn’t Economy 7 and storage heaters a wheeze to utilise the nuclear generated electricity at night?

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Race of Morons

          and thats without mentioning a lot of the old ones are loaded with friable asbestos

          Yup. All the ones we had when I was a kid did. We were strictly forbidden from taking them apart but, being the youngest of 4 boys, such instructions were treated as merely advisory.

          It's amazing that we survived childhood.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Race of Morons

      "Have we really started to breed a race of incompetent morons......"

      A look at our elected representatives in the House of Commons should answer that for you.

    4. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Race of Morons

      I actually turned off my boiler (combi boiler, and I put it in summer mode, so no central heating, but it will do taps and showers). I have a lodger who kept turning the thermostat up to near 30 because "it wasn't warm enough" (-degrees C outside, and ~24 inside, but with the thermostat up that high, it just didn't turn off)

      Now I don't have the boiler running 24-7 (next to my bedroom wall -_- ) and the temps are staying stable at ~20-22 degrees, no matter what she sets the thermostat to.

      (It's underfloor heating, so isn't very aggressive at heating, and it was recommended to have it enabled all the time to maintain a temperature. But it's also in a flat, so I can leach almost as much heat off my neighbours most of the time.)

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Race of Morons

      incompetent morons...

      Remember, a lot of people are not IT or IT security savvy - they get sold these devices as the 'next greatest thing' without any mention of the downsides.

      Yes, to us it's foolish (cloud == someone elses' computer and all that and subject to the whim of the provider) but most people won't have the time, inclination to training to realise that. And things like Nest *do* have benefits for some people - it's just that we know a lot about the pitfalls of those devices too.

  8. regbadgerer

    No fallback controls!?

    I'm really struggling to understand how a product exists that can *only* be controlled via some kind of remote service.

    Are the people saying they can't control their heating correct, or are they just the app generation and have no idea how to press actual mechanical buttons any more?

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: No fallback controls!?

      It can also be controlled by the very simple manual override and, I haven't checked but I'm pretty sure, the dial on the thermostat should still work ( that doesn't, I don't think, rely on the Internet ).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No fallback controls!?

      I can't speak for others, but my Hive has a "manual override" in exactly the same place as the non-Hive thermostat used to be.

      1. tin 2

        Re: No fallback controls!?

        but does it have a "continue working as was last time I reached the server" mode, or does it literally become a thermostat? Because if that is the case, that's extremely extremely shit.

        1. Nick L

          Re: No fallback controls!?

          Yes, it does just continue working... I have Hive, and it works absolutely fine locally when the internet connection goes down.

      2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: No fallback controls!?

        Yep first gen hive has buttons for up and down for temp, plus a "boiler on override" button

        Hive V2 looks like a dimmer switch.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart heating systems do have their uses.

    I didn't have any room thermoststat(s) in my heating system; have all rads with TRVs on, except for bathroom & toilet.

    Worked fine.

    However, the heating was either on or off, so if you were away in the Winter, and a really cold snap kicked in, you could in theory get burst pipes at coldest point.

    With a smart thermostat, rather than an off period, you can have a minimum temp period (such a 7C), so no burst pipes.

    Currently got a Drayton Wiser system installed, and it runs to schedule when Internet connection down (as designed).

    Probably a good thing, as not been able to get access to mine remotely.

    Drayton has 4 daily on/off pairs (essentially) for CH, same for HW.

    Hive only has 3 daily pairs, so not enough for what I wanted.

    Both makes have physical buttons for boosting/switching off CH & HW. First version of Hive didn't apparently...

    1. tin 2

      Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

      That's craziness, should have at least one room stat somewhere to shut the whole system off for a while when the whole gaff is hot enough, and to run the system when it gets towards freezing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

        System worked fine without room thermostat - the boiler switches off when the return water is at bolier's inbuilt thermostat setting. So boiler might be set to be on for an hour say, but you can hear it cut out after 20 mins and stay off for 10+ mins before kicking in again.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

        Which is also what we have, and I assumed almost every household that has thermostatic valves. One central thermostat to establish a base temperature for the house and the room 'stats adjusted to purpose.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

      "I didn't have any room thermoststat(s) in my heating system; have all rads with TRVs on, except for bathroom & toilet."

      I still have that set-up. Unlike you the boiler has a time switch with individual settings for each 15 mins so it would be a doddle to set up a short burn every few hours to keep frost at bay.

      1. Martin

        Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

        I have room thermostats, but also a simple timed thermostat which overrides everything. It sets to either 20 degrees when I want it on, or 12 degrees when I want it "off". So the house never gets colder than 12 degrees, which means (a) no chance of burst pipes and (b) quicker to get to temperature.

        The boiler time switch is on all the time; the timed thermostat is the one that does most of the work.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

        I was using a Grasslin Towerchron QE2 programmer, which has 28 program slots and is pretty flexible, so could get CH to come on for a short burst early hours as you say. Just need to program before trips away, which is easily forgotten (in my case :-\).

        BTW Hive CH & HW on periods are multiples of 15 min, so not that flexible.

        For me 20 mins HW twice a day enough for me, 15 too little, 30 too much.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

          I have one of those too. It only gets used for HW and the 1 hr CH boost. There's an overriding programmable thermostat which does most of the work. Three set point temperatures which can be allocated to any 15 minute slot of the whole 24 hours of 7, 5, 2 or 1 day patterns. Day, Night and Frostguard temperatures.

      3. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

        I've had one more recent boiler that had very basic protections built in. It had a wireless thermostat and timer but nothign cleverer than that. It had a safety system to kick the heating on if the temperature dropped below 7C. There was also thermistat inside the boiler to do the same. The boiler lived in the garage so in a cold winter the heating would come on wether you liked it or not as it tried to save itself from freezing.

        I don't really think you need anything cleverer than that.

    3. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses.

      With a smart thermostat, rather than an off period, you can have a minimum temp period (such a 7C), so no burst pipes.

      So does my 15 year-old CM 67. It also has optimum start so it wakes the heating up earlier/later as required in order to meet the programmed deadlines.

    4. Mark #255

      Frost protection...

      The system I have (installed 2004) has the boiler in the loft, and inputs for frost protection; the one in use is a pipe thermometer, fitted just before the boiler inlet.

      Even if you switch the timer into holiday or "off" modes, the system will still protect itself from freezing.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Frost protection...

        Even if you switch the timer into holiday or "off" modes, the system will still protect itself from freezing.

        The system, yes. However your living areas will just have to fend for themselves by the sound of it. To be fair unless you live on high ground somewhere in the north of the UK or go on a long winter holiday there's probably little to no risk of internal temperatures dropping to zero. Although if you have house plants some of those might be at risk during a particularly cold snap without heating.

        But the frost 'stat on a boiler - which should be fitted by default on all installations and is often built-in to the boiler these days - is only concerned with protecting the boiler itself. Typically it triggers the pump to run for a while so that the boiler can warm up but it's unlikely to run long enough to put significant heat into the radiators. Half a minute to a minute is likely enough to ward off any frost risk to the boiler.

    5. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Smart heating systems do have their uses. @AC

      Duh! Every bog standard mechanical room stat has a little snowflake legend printed on the low end of the dial.

      If you're going away, set the heating to be on 24hrs a day and turn the dial to the snowflake. Your heating will come on at 6°C and stop the pipes from freezing. It will turn off when the house is a few of degrees warmer.

  10. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Flame

    When the Iceland cometh....

    Well, at least they weren't hacked next week when the cold snap comes. Unless this was a practice run?

    Appropriate icon for all the little dears feeling the cold....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a luddite....but

    I quite like the idea of 'smart' heating controls, but I really really can't see why you would want to put the programming logic on someone else's server. It's not as if they are doing anything that couldn't be achieved with 20 lines of Basic. Give a thermostat the brain power of an Arduino or RPi and you should be able to devise a smart system that's cloud independent, remotely accessed, and does what you want it to when you want it to. If you want 15 mins slots great, if you want minute by minute control fill your boots.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where is the profit in that?

      You wouldn't want to put the controls on someone else's server but there is money to be made by others if they can get you to do just that.

      It isn't in your interest to share your personal data or control but people can be sold anything given the right circumstances.

      It is all about creating those conditions and making the right sales pitch at the right time and people will sell their life for cheap.

  12. AndrueC Silver badge
    WTF?

    This couldn't have happened at a worse time for app happy users, what with an incoming polar plume from Iceland set to cause temperatures to tumble to as low as -5°C in parts of the UK. Those that can will be forced to intervene manually.

    Why would it require intervention at all? Is the thermostat really that reliant on the server that it can can't even carry out basic time-controlled switching? I can see that being cut off from weather forecasting might slightly impact its efficacy but surely without the server it's no better/worse than a standard 'dumb' thermostat.

    Of course for me that's an academic question. My 15 year-old 7 day, Honeywell digital will continue to function as it always has done :)

  13. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    You mean there's no manual override?

    Well then, there's nothing else for it: Hudson! Run a by-pass!

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Bah!

      Having a by-pass (which from the previous comments it does) and users actually knowing it has one (and how to use it) are unfortunately two entirely seperate items...

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        That's why you always bring Specialist Hudson along to do the bypass-running.

  14. MrXavia

    Smart tech is great, as long as it works offline!

    I don't mind a cloud component to tie stuff together, but the app, that should work on the lan, no internet required!

  15. Chris G Silver badge

    The Hive

    One should remember that in the hive the individual is secondary to the survival of The Hive.

  16. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Load shedding ...

    It is in fact desirable to have "smart" load shedding. If implemented sensibly it means that at peaks when the grid is at risk of being overwhelmed, the power company can switch off only your immersion heaters and other non-essential items. Houses can be wired to have an "always on" circuit and a "load shedding" circuit.

    The alternative is to load-shed by shutting down substations on a round-robin basis.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Load shedding ...

      "If implemented sensibly it means that at peaks when the grid is at risk of being overwhelmed, the power company can switch off only your immersion heaters and other non-essential items."

      More likely all those electric-only cars the greens seem to think are a good idea, seeing as they are usually the largest load in any given house. Today's rolling brown-outs are going to be looked upon rather fondly unless we can stem the tide of plug-in cars ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Load shedding ...

        You might want to look into the concept of "vehicle to grid" before too long. The electric vehicles already have big batteries, and big inverters to drive the electric motors, it's not that big an extension to use the same gear to produce a few kW of 50Hz domestic-style mains rather than powering the motors.

        e.g.

        https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/electric-cars/vehicle-to-grid-technology.html

        (goes back as far as 2016 in Nissan's case:

        https://www.enel.com/media/news/d/2016/08/energy-on-wheels-v2g-innovation-renewables-and-grids)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Load shedding ...

          "vehicle to grid" is a wishful thinking, at best. Marketing bullshit at worst.

          Consider when my buddy plugs in his Tesla when he gets home around 8PM: All he cares about is that it's fully charged by 6AM so he can get to work and back without worry[0]. Selling power back to PG&E doesn't even come into the equation. His commute is Five Corners (Central Valley) to Mountain View (Silicon Valley), a round-trip of over 150 miles, much of it stop and go traffic. His commute is considered "normal" here in California.

          [0] Yes, 14 hours away from home, five days per week & some weekends. Again, this is considered "normal" these days. Now ask me why I worked my ass off to get out of the rat-race ...

    2. Twanky Bronze badge

      Re: Load shedding ...

      'Houses can be wired to have an "always on" circuit and a "load shedding" circuit.

      The alternative is to load-shed by shutting down substations on a round-robin basis.'

      Erm. Shirley at least one other 'alternative' is to have adequate generating and grid carrying capacity?

      I would agree that waste is not to be tolerated and recognise that efficiency is a means to reduce waste, but cutting off some service because it's getting too popular right now points to a problem with the service - not with the consumer.

  17. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Facepalm

    great target

    for the eco loonies......

    hey lets reduce everyones emmissions by hacking hive and changing their thermostats to 10C....

    Or maybe HM government will be doing that to cope with the coming fuel crisis due to brexit when customs inspectors have to inspect every molocule of gas coming into the UK......

    1. Nano nano

      Re: great target

      Hive was not "hacked" - Amazon cloud services that Hive used had an outage, apparently.

  18. Nano nano

    Grass is greener: AWS IoT

    The downside to moving to cloud service providers for much infrastructure, is the "single point of failure" that they provide when you no longer have the control of your own infrastructure, or do not design-in the required redundancy/fallback modes

  19. Tessier-Ashpool

    It’s very dumb if these things stop working if Centrica’s online systems go AWOL. My Nest thermostat carries on working if the internet disappears.

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