TLDR; Ubiquiti’s UniFi gear works great as a home Wifi solution if you’re willing to spend a little more for premium gear and don’t mind a bit of extra setup.
Our house is a split foyer house from the late 60s. Every room is covered in wood paneling which means it’s really hard to get a good wifi signal unless you’re right next to our wireless router. Our modem is located on the lower floor of the house since that was the easiest place to get our ISP’s connection into our house.
We’ve been using an ASUS RT-AC66U router. It’s a higher end consumer router that served us well in our previous house, but our new house was challenging for it. Even with the signal strength cranked up to the max and practically no wifi interference from the neighbors, only a few rooms of our house could get a stable wifi signal. Even with a signal, the speeds were pretty poor.
My wife, daughter, and I all use the internet pretty regularly, so it’s important it works reliably. We decided it made sense to spend a little more to upgrade our networking equipment if it meant our wifi issues would go away. After lots of research, UniFi stood out since it had excellent reviews online, the interface looked simple (for a business class access point), and several friends that are into networking had recommended Ubiquity equipment.
Our ASUS router worked fine as a router, so we decided to keep it, turn off the wireless feature and let the UniFi AP handle all of our wireless needs.
Picking the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LR Access Point
There are quite a few models of Ubiquiti access points you can choose from such as:
– AP Lite
– AP LR
– AP Pro
They all serve the same basic function but have slightly different characteristics so it’s worth researching each type to see what will best fit your specific situation.
For us, we wanted a stable wifi signal, anywhere in the house, while still maintaining plenty of speed. We’re talking 5-10Mbps for most of our devices with something in the 50-100Mbps range (or more) being ideal a couple of devices1.
The UAP-AC-LR ended up winning out since it has the best-rated range, without requiring multiple APs for a mesh setup, and it still delivers great speeds. I did read some negative reviews talking about the LR using a flavor of PoE that was 24v instead of the usual 48v. Since we don’t have any existing PoE gear, that wasn’t a concern for us, but just know that it’s a potential issue if you have existing equipment that only supports 48v. Cost-wise, this one was in the middle of the pack at $100 (vs $75/$130 for the Lite and Pro respectively).
I was worried the installation would be a pain since this wasn’t consumer oriented gear and I’m not that experienced with networking hardware. To install it, all you have to do is plug the PoE injector (included in the box) into a power outlet, connect the PoE injector to a LAN port on your router, and connect the AP’s LAN port to the PoE injector’s other port. Then, you run Ubiquiti’s controller app to “adopt” the AP and make it part of your network.
I did have some trouble getting the AP to get adopted by my controller software. I ran it on my MacBook Pro and the AP was recognized, but it would never successfully complete the adoption process. After power cycling everything, it finally worked. It was at that point that I discovered the AP was actually tied to my MacBook Pro. If I ran the controller software on a different machine, I couldn’t manage the AP…it had to be my MacBook Pro running the controller.
So, I ended up resetting everything to factory defaults, installing the Ubiquiti controller as a docker image2 on my Synology NAS, and then adopting it from there. That way, I can always connect to the controller since my NAS is always on and shared by all of my machines. Once it was adopted, everything “just worked”.
So was it worth it? Absolutely.
We have excellent coverage throughout the house now. Rooms that had poor (literally 1-2Mbps) speeds are now running at 20Mbps+ with most running at 50Mbps or more. The devices that support the wireless AC standard were easily running at 100Mbps or more. In rooms that didn’t have a signal before, our devices are now easily 10Mbps+ even in the worst signal strength rooms.
The AP is on the main floor of the house and coverage, as well as speed is excellent there. I was surprised at how well the coverage and speed held up in the basement. About half of the rooms didn’t have wifi access at all before, but now, every room has access and usable speeds.
Overall, we’re all really happy with the upgrade. We’ve had it installed since February 2017 (so about 5 months of daily use at this point) and we’ve had zero trouble.
- Mainly, our MacBooks since they backup regularly to our Synology NAS – so the faster the connection, the more likely they are to stay fully backed up. ↩
- If you try this, you may have to use the “discovery tool” Ubiquiti provides for updating the router’s host url so it can find the Docker controller. For some reason, the AP couldn’t see the controller until I did that. ↩