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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26 thoughts on “Setup Unifi ap without Controller”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.
    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.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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!

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

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