Setup Unifi ap without Controller

So you want enterprise-class wifi at home, but don’t want to use a controller? Normally you install a Ubiquiti Unifi Access Points with a controller. This way you can easily manage multiple access points and keep them all in sync and up-to-date. But what if you don’t want to keep a pc running 24/7/? Do you really need to controller? Nope, you can just install the Unifi Ap with you mobile phone. This guide will tell you howto install an Unifi AP without a controller.

Choosing the right Access Point

Before we can start we need to get the right Access Point. I have written about Unifi ap’s before, check out this post for some insights one choosing and placing the Access Point.


Installing without the Controller

  1. So first we need the Unifi App from the Google Play store (or IOS app store), download the app on your mobile phone.
  2. Next, we need to install the Unifi AP, make sure it’s connected with an ethernet cable to your network. When the led is solidly white, you know that the AP is connected and in the factory default state.
  3. Start the app on your mobile devices.
  4. The Unifi AP will show up in the list of discovered devices. If you don’t see the access point, make sure your WiFi on your mobile device is enabled. Alternatively, you can scan the QR code on the back of the AP. (Click on the menu top right > Scan QR)
  5. It will ask for a username and password, the default is ubnt/ubnt. Just pick a strong password and continue.
  6. Scroll down and enter your Wifi name (SSID) and password. Click on Apply Settings when done. It will take a few seconds before you new network is available.

That’s all there is. As you can see, you can get a Unifi AP up and running within 5 minutes by just using your mobile phone.

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60 thoughts on “Setup Unifi ap without Controller”

  1. I imagine this is a question that may raise some ridicule, but do not be haters, I am simply drowning in a sea of model numbers, and terms, access points, mesh networks, routers, modems, and so on. I am relatively technical, have done IT work, and undertstand some basic networking, but I simply do not understand what it is that I need to do specifically to accomplish my goal of seemless and unified wifi throughout my property. I have a small 2 br mobile home, a stick built garage and a carport ajecent to the two. I have a Ubiquity product, whether it is an access point or a node for a mesh network or an outdoor specific device I am not clear. I bought the UAP-AC-M, which I always understood as being refering to UniversalAccessPoint-AC?-Mesh. I have a Centurylink provided modem/wifi AP which connects both to LAN switches that provide wired connections where feasible and to provide wifi to everything else. I have, in the past simply used an extender but it is flaky and I feel not very secure, but in any case it might be perfectly secure, I would like to keep the wired connections in the house around the CL access point as they are, and provide one wireless “mesh” network I think to every wireless device on the property while also having a wired connection in the garage which would arrive in the garage wirelessly So I thought, set up the Ubiquity device with the controller, or now I think maybe the mobile phone option is better, so I would love to hear opinions on whether I need to install the controller on a desktop, as I do have a mac and a PC that are on 24/7 should that be the preferred route. Can I have a unifying wifi network that is supplied in the house by the modem/wifi router, also sent to the garage by way of the CL wifi router to the UAP-AC-M that I would mount on the outside of the garage somewhere to extend that wifi coverage out there and also utillize the LAN port on the PoE adapter to provide LAN access to wired only devices in the garage?
    I have not been in the industry in more than 15 years and therefore I am sorry if I have been much more long winded than need be to ask what I have asked, but I did not want to leave anything out, nor did I want to make it sound as if I was in over my head because I do not believe I am. As a side note, I also have on hand a 2 node Linksys Velop mesh set up that is in the box still that I am not sure where came from. If there is somewhere within this network that I might find utilizing this additional hardware advantageous I would be open to that. I thought perhaps kill the wifi from the CL device and instead wire a parent Velop node and child and then simply have the inteligent mesh whatever decide whether to send the wifi signal to the Ubiquity device at the garage wirth the paren t or child node.

    I hope my understading of cushion that the ubiquity device provides is not totally out of left field and incorrect. I really hope that you can provide me with either a big two thumbs up that I’ve got it correct or that I’ve got some things wrong with it I’m totally lost and hopeless and I should just go back to an extender.

    • So if I understand you correctly:

    • You want to keep the CenturyLink as Access Point in the house and as a network switch (wired connections)
    • Connect the Unifi AC Mesh as a Bridge to the CenturyLink
    • And create a wired connection from the AC Mesh for in your garage
    • Destop vs mobile controller
    • The desktop controller is a little bit easier to work with and it doesn’t have to run 24/7.
      You can keep the CL and add the AC mesh to it. If you use the same SSID and password you should be able to roam around without any problems. Make sure though that you set each access point to it’s own channel.
      Creating a bridge with the CL and AC Mesh, I am unsure about that. I think it should be possible, but you will need to check it.
      And yes you can use the LAN link from the PoE adapter for the wired connection in your garage.

      • Thanks so much. I guess the bulk of what I am asking is can the UAP-AC-M connect to the CL wireless signal and how do I go about connecting it? I am glad it works that way as that is the purpose for which I bought it. It can basically act as a device in conncting to the network so that it can then broadcast its own identical wifi signal AND provide a wired option as well, right?
        Thank you thank you thank you!

  2. Hi Rudd

    Thank you for the setup details.

    I have a PC running the Controller, I would like to get a Push Notification to my Mobile when the PC or Controller goes down.

    Could we do this ?

  3. Great article!!! Thanks for all the info. Very easy to set them up as standalone. I have one indoor AP (uap-ac-LR) and one outdoors (UAP-AC-M). They are both wired to a modem from my internet provider (different brand, not in bridge mode). I’d like them to mesh under the same SSID. Is this a matter of just giving them the same SSID name/password or do I have to use the network software on the computer? I installed it but can’t seem to make it find the AP

    Any help would be very much appreciated!

    • If you have configured them as standalone devices then you will need to reset them first and make sure that they are in the same network as your computer. Using the Unifi Controller is easier to set them up as one network.

      You could configure them standalone, but then you need to make sure that they are on a different channel, and have the same ssid and password. But it’s better to use the controller.

  4. I was able to set up via stand alone function in the app. I have a question though – does AP need to stay plugged into the router in order to work? It seems like it doesn’t work once I unplugged AP from the router. Could anyone provide any insight?

    I want to set the AP up in other area of the house. I was under the impression that I could do that when I purchased the AP.

    • yes standalone works , no controler
      but
      as the manual states
      The drawback is you’re missing out on controller features, such as cloud access to your devices, client management, statistics, insights, alerts, events and more.
      Mesh.
      no. for yours but they maker does sell models that do that. but not yours.
      read up what and AP means WAP. (it is not a bridge wifi ever, nor an extender)
      it is wired to AP only. device. like in School and long daisy chained ethernet cable. AP to AP to AP. for full coverage and no blind spots, is the goal there.

      the 1 one problem here and with maker is they do not use model numbers
      causing confusing on (generation) and each model they make (vast)
      see? I have no idea at all what model you have, just “AP” (access point)

      it is not meshnetwork.

  5. Like the Old TV ads long ago, this is not your fathers “Oldsmobile”.RIP
    the problem is this is 2021., not 1995,
    and history matters, what happened is security.
    if you google all routers (AP based) made, for EXPLOITS, you see and endless SEA
    of routers and AP: that are a total mess, even some with 200 exploits. or worse
    this AP is unlike those other devices. (EVOLUTION HAPPENS)embrace it?

    This AP does have standalone more with super simple Cell phone setup, like 6 clicks.
    but is one way trip to dullsville, no advance modes there and if you need those,
    you are sunk., and must now reset the router. and use the w10, app, v6 to setup the router and do all the things that standalone can NOT DO. vast.
    SEEN HERE (JPG

    https://pcdied.com/AP-WAP/wpa2-mine.JPG

    The W10 app is free, why fear this app.
    just 9 clicks once on the above page, even less if defaults float your boat.
    Hope you all get it working and is secure,.

    • I don’t know if that is possible in the app. Can’t find anything about it either. Keep in mind that a hidden ssid is not more secure, they will still show up in wireless network scanners

      • I realize it isn’t more secure. That’s not my reasoning at all. I just have several other SSID being broadcast in addition to the one I want to hide, of which is only used for a single purpose and there is no reason for anyone to see it.

        • no version of your app told, v5 or v6, for windows
          or using the lame, android app for this,? (fails on all my WAP’s)
          the v6 APP for windows for sure shows that.
          as the photo below link shows.
          hide it you can,
          click “prevent SSID from being broadcast.”
          just do it, and be happy.

    • well, all that is covered in the ubiquti.com forum there
      sure you can !
      but depends on 2 things
      what AP do you have of the vast models (some only run old old software controls)
      and if using w10 app, v5 or v6?

      you could just leave the SSID blank.
      you can also have 5 or 10 AP all with same SSID (by design)
      making the SSID blank or unknown , does not make the AP more secure at all.
      everybody knows that you can see unknowns, ever run the application inSIDDer.exe.
      see? not really hidden is , no, and can attacked by any one.
      here is version 6 running
      see the lline here, called Broadcast disabled. just above #7 marker

      v6:
      https://pcdied.com/AP-WAP/wpa2-mine.JPG

      BTW mine works so good I have to pinch my self u6-list (wifi-6)
      only problems ever were firewall related, with the APP controller (SW)
      best wishes to all….

      • I am not trying to make it more secure by hiding the SSID. I’m just trying to reduce the number of visible networks for the typical user. The network I want hidden has a single purpose and no need to be broadcast.

        For what it’s worth:
        AP: UAP-AC-Pro
        Controller: Running cloud key gen 2, with web dashboard at v6

        But I have set up the AP via the Android UniFi app as a standalone device, which means it isn’t being controlled by the cloud key controller dashboard.

        That said, I think perhaps I will just have to make it controlled under the dashboard instead of being standalone.

        • just try it.
          why wait? ( I find this and interesting topic , that I never use) so we both learn this, now.

          personally not seen any Wap made this can not be done.
          sure junky home $10 routers. sure. (and horrid exploit paths)
          but not this grade of product or others, as good.
          “Standalone mode allows you to set up and manage your UniFi AP without needing controller software. ”
          It means not adapted by the controller, or cloud key .
          the manual online for standalone shows, cell phone APP and no clues there.
          there FAQ does not cover this mode properly, (just the silly 6 clicks))
          nor is it covered it he ui.com community. this topic.
          here I will ask for you there, at ui.com, now,
          more later….. (if not laugh off their forum, as I suspect)

          my guess (wild) is standalone mode is for home users
          what is this MODE, why does it exit , I think this is it.
          i’ts toy mode. AP as toy.
          so how to set it up with the least numbers of clicks
          and out comes the CELL. and even the bar code trick.
          it is for home consumers, prosumers use the w10 app,v6 , or if really frisky buy the cloud key,
          this is all just marketing , this standalone mode, to make more folks happy.

          I do think standalone mode is what we call, crippleware.
          or turboware, 3 clicks done. features I need no stinking features (lol)

          I’d not use standalone ever. (for sure reading all others on topic first)

          if they ever spec it out ,then maybe , seems its “after thought device to me” to answer “way are WAP so hard to setup, home users.”
          warning#1:
          To exit standalone mode the AP must be reset.
          fun no?

          at ui.com community standalone AP , shows 10 questions not answered on topic, tells me loud to, AVOID that.

          the video here is try english voice clear on topic (
          and I see NO ADVANCED setting at all. there.
          so is low end consumer setup
          at time stamp:
          3:53, he flat says no good for advance settings. BINGO

          https://youtu.be/3iyogziTc7Y?t=233

          standalone is like training wheel on a harley. (or my Hayabusa)

          for sure not resetting my AP , u6lite to do this deed sorry.

  6. I have an existing Spectrum WiFi network that I want to extend coverage using a UAP-LR device. I just want to confirm that to set it up, I will connect the UAP-LR to my router (with PoE) and then configure using the App and your 6 steps? I will be giving it the same SSID and password as my existing network? And then it will act as an extension of my existing WiFi network?

    Thank you, I’m obviously new to this and appreciate the help!

      • Thank you Rudy! I have a cabled connection to a remote area of my property but the WiFi does not reach there, so if plugging in an UAP-LR there will extend the WiFi, that’s really all I need.

        If you have a moment, what would be a better option to do this simply? I’m not prepared to swap out my router or reconfigure my entire home network… I just need extended coverage, and done simply.

  7. my wired only router, edge router is at 10.10.1.1 and IPs from x.100 to x200
    so I must set the WAP to that range , I use x200. (using putty SSH access way)

    most new web browsers fail, due to silly certificate errors, (even if clicked bypass etc)
    I have an old firefox v20 portable that worked, but running that wrecks my new FF V79, for profile damage. (not fun that)
    so had to end that.
    IE11 might work, it does on some routers and not others. for java reasons.
    this is why top routers, etc, use a android app. now.
    the manual on the wap clearly states only Chrome works, but not the version.
    I will repost for my next install session.

    • no edits allowed. wow
      my post just above (jan8) is wrong, someone had installed non standard firmware on my old 2013 AP-AC
      dd-wrt (custom) ouch…
      and had me super confused, have vast experiences with routers. but not this.

      This AP now clean , and updated runs great, so I replaced it with U6-lite (wifi-6)
      The older ones are going EOL now. (I asked the makers this) wifi6 is the go to WAP now.
      The Best usages is with Software APP controller v6 or the $200 cloud key gen2, controller hardware)
      If I turn off the firewall in my laptop all works great or opening up all 10 ports used, too.
      my browser is Firefox v84 no problems at all with there APP, controller.
      Java8 a must, or newer or that lean version from amazon.

  8. Hi

    I have a cabled router (with no wifi) and i would like to use the Unifi AP to create a wifi.
    Now i can ofcourse cable to Unifi AP to my router, and i can download the app to my phone. But since i don’t have an existing wifi, i can’t connect that way.

    Is it even possible to use the Unifi AP (without a controller) to create a wifi on a cabled router?

  9. “1. First we need the Unifi App from the Google Play store (or IOS app store), download the app on your mobile phone.”

    iPhone App: “No devices found”

  10. Ruud,

    I think its implied but I haven’t seen it stated for sure, or I was confused by other comments made with the answer… If I have several Unifi AP AC LR’s setup with a controller, can I moved the configured devices to another network and operate them without a controller? If not, can you set them up with a controller as stand alone like you indicated here with phone app? I have a need to setup 3 AP’s temporarily for a customers network and cant leave a controller running 24×7 at their site.

    • Yes, that should be possible. You don’t need to have the controller running 24/7, so that should be possible. Only make sure that DHCP is done by the router and not the Unifi Controller.

  11. Things may have changed a bit. I’m using Android 2.8.1.58 and the discover controllers appears not to work. At least not with a UniFi UAP-AC-PRO. This worked for me:

    1. First we need the Unifi App from the Google Play store (or IOS app store), download the app on your mobile phone.

    2. Next, we need to install the Unifi AP, make sure it’s connected with an ethernet cable to your network. It’s not a bad idea to hold in the RESET button for more than 5 seconds to get the unit to defaults. When the led is solidly white, you know that the AP is connected and in the factory default state.

    3. Start the app on your mobile devices.

    4. Click on the Account button in the lower right

    5. Click on Standalone Devices

    6. The Unifi AP should show up in the list of discovered Standalone devices. If you don’t see the access point, make sure your WiFi on your mobile device is enabled. The scan QR code on the back of the AP appears to be gone.

    7. It will ask for a username and password, the default is ubnt/ubnt. Pick a strong password and apply.

    8. When the AP comes back online you can configure it with your Wifi name (SSID) and password. Click on Apply Settings when done. It will take a few seconds before you new network is available.

    (Above was tested on a Ubiquiti UniFi UAP-AC-PRO and to the best of my recolections works. The last step may have some inaccuracy as I wasn’t taking notes but seemed straighforward, especially compaired to the previous steps..)

  12. Have my AP-LR steady orange after resetting. Android app doesn’t see it in spite being on same network. Managed to update AP to last firmware using OpenSSH+PuTTY console. Still not visible on phone. It’s a shame to have to loose all day and install Java+bloat software for doing what Tplink 841HP does in 5 minutes and with longer range.

  13. Hi Ruud,

    I’m stuck with 2 standalone access points that won’t come online with the white light, instead they show a solid orange light and are not discovered on the network (or the app). I have tried the reset button but that doesn’t help. I don’t have a Unify controller. I’ve also tried to swap out the POE injectors but that didn’t do the trick. My network has a gazillion devices (lots of IoT stuff) so I doubt if it’s the DHCP server, or the firewall (I have smart plugs, bulbs, TVs and Alexa all set up without any hiccups) what else could it be? I don’t have a network port on my laptop so I can’t tftp into the access points or flash the firmware.

    thx, Karen

    • Hi Karen,

      The orange light means the access point is waiting for adoption, so that is good. Normally I would say check if the inform address is set correctly because the access point can’t find the controller. But in your case, you want to use the app. Are you sure that your mobile phone is connected to the same network as the access points? If you can grep a notebook, can you try the Unifi Discovery Tool to see if you can find them in your network?

      You can always install a controller to setup the access points and remove the software later on. You don’t need to keep the controller running 24/7

      • Sorted! It was necessary to dowload the controller software, then update the APs and now I can see them in the app.

    • I solved the issue, I had to install the controller software on my laptop, then make sure the controllers were connected to the same subnet as the controller. The controller then picked them up, they both needed firmware updates so did all that and now they’re both working as expected.

      All the best
      Karen

  14. Thank you for the article. It was most helpful. The only problem I ran into was access the URL for the controller. IE, Edge, Chrome, Brave all indicated this error: ERR_SSL_VERSION_OR_CIPHER_MISMATCH. Being I had not restarted the RPi after all the steps, I decided to reboot and the problem went away. 🙂 Really great site you have!

  15. Awesome thanks. Downloaded unifi network app to iPad. Setup AP as standalone. Disconnected lan cable, put ap where I needed it for back of house. Devices now have 88-93% signal strength up from 0 – 30%. Thanks again.

  16. ruud – i found your site, fumbling around trying to get started with unifi – 2 uap-iw(in-wall)-ap. what am i trying to do? i need to hook to 2 ROKU devices wirelessly in areas of my house where i cannot run cat-5. so ROKU, back to TPLink PE switch to power the uap-iw, back to verizon fios actiontec router.
    i have an iPhone5s, runs the unifi mobile app, discovers 1 of the 2 uap-iw. dumping MyNetwork report from the actiontec router shows the 2 uap-iw: 1 is active, the other is inactive. the 2 uap-iw leds show ‘blue’. i got 1 to update firmware [this one is active, the ROKU should see this from the other side of the basement, it finds the name of the actiontec router, i give the password – but it won’t connect]. the inactive one i can’t discover with the iPhone.
    now
    dumb dumb question: if the actiontec router can ‘see’ the ip-address of the uap-iw, and it says it is active, is the ROKU trying to ‘log into’ the uap-iw OR is it actually finding the router in the attic and bypassing the AP? there is a whole lot here i clearly haven’t understood about the uap-iw set-up and configuring. i set the uap-iw as ‘stand-alone’, and if i use the iphone to try and ‘Connect to AP’, it gives …if you don’t have a Wi-Fi network yet…QR…but it never says what i am supposed to do with the QR once i find it.
    ok, clearly i need to read a Unifi for Dummies book………………..thanks for reading

    • Hi Ronald,

      For the UAP that you can’t find in the app, I would simply reset it back to factory to be sure. You want to use two access points in one network. You can do this without a controller, but it’s easier and better to use the controller in my opinion. Keep in mind that the controller doesn’t have to run 24/7, you can install it on your computer, configure your network and just close it when you are done.

  17. Hello Rudy,
    thank you for the precious info;
    i did, i used the App and setup my AP, BUT ! it is so limited, i have one question tho,
    can i hide the SSID broadcast somehow? i used to do this with my oldest APs.

    thank you in advance,

      • I reset the UniFy AP and connected through the phone app and was able to set it up as a stand alone unit. Now it works without a controller having to be up. Works perfectly for a home application now. Thanks.

  18. If I have two APs can I get them to work together and seamlessly hand off without the controller?

    • I haven’t tried it my self, but I think you could set them up with the app. But you can also install the controller only to install the device and remove it later on. The controller doens’t have to be running.
      About the seamlessly handoff (zero handoff), that was only prefered for the Gen1 access points. Roaming is for most situations sufficient and can be done without controller.

  19. As Ubiquiti products capture more of the home market, it’s a shame they can’t offer a better in-between solution. Pretty much every other access point on the market can be managed via web browser. Thanks for the writeup!

  20. Thanks for the quick tutorial. Can guest access be setup along with authenticated access without a controller?

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