How to Set up a Unifi Wireless Uplink

When you want to extend your wireless network you don’t always have to option to connect every access point wired to your switch. In these cases, you can create an Unifi Wireless Uplink connection. With a wireless uplink, you connect the access point wireless to another access point. This way you only need to have power for the access point.

Keep in mind that a wired connection is always preferred. Because it will give the best performance for your wireless devices and it’s easier to maintain. However, when that is not possible, we can create a wireless uplink with pretty much any Unifi access point.

Unifi Wireless Uplink
Unifi Wireless Uplink

In this article, I will explain how to set up an Unifi wireless uplink connection, take a look at multi-hob uplinks and explain the difference between mesh and uplink.

Wireless Uplink Requirements

Before we start it’s important that you are running one of the latest Unifi Network versions. Also, make sure that the firmware on your access points is up to date and that all access points are running on the same firmware version.

You can create a wireless uplink with pretty much all the latest Unifi Access Point and also some of the older models. The only difference with the older models is that they don’t support multi-hop (mesh network):

  • UAP
  • UAP-LR
  • UAP-Pro
  • UAP-Outdoor
  • UAP-Outdoor+
  • UAP-Outdoor5
  • UAP-IW

The UAP-AC and UAP-AC-Outdoor do not support wireless uplink at all.

To create a wireless uplink you will need to have at least one connected and configured Unifi access point within range of the new access point.

Configure Unifi Wireless Uplink

We are going to start with a simple setup, connecting a single Unifi access point wireless to another. During the set up we will talk about the downlink and the uplink access point. Downlink is the access point that is wirelessly connected to the uplink (wired) access point.

Make sure that you have configured static channels on your wired access points. The downlink access point can be set to auto, but the uplink access point should have a fixed channel. Use channels 1,6 or 11 for 2.4GHz and 36 or 44 for 5Ghz.

Step 1 – Adopt your new access point

The first step is to adopt the new access point in the Unifi network. The fastest way to do this is to connect the access point with a wire to the switch. However, it’s also possible to wirelessly adopt the access point (more about that later).

Step 2 – Enable Meshing on the Uplink Access Point

Meshing is most of the time enabled by default and set to Auto. It’s better to use the manual mode, so we can control how the access points are connected.

  1. Select your Uplink access point (the one that stays wire connected)
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Make sure the Meshing is enabled
  4. Set meshing to manual
  5. Enable Downlink
  6. Disable Uplink.
Enable downlink
Unifi Uplink Access Point

With Downlink enabled we allow another access point to connect to this access point (the LA6-Living in this case). We disable Uplink, to make sure that this access point doesn’t connect wirelessly to another.

Step 3 – Enable meshing on the Downlink Access Point

Next, we need to enable meshing on the downlink access point. In this situation, we only have a single downlink access point and a single uplink access point. We could leave meshing on auto, but we are going to set a fixed uplink access point:

  1. Select the new access point (the access point that is going to be connected wirelessly)
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Enable Meshing
  4. Set it to manual
  5. Disable Downlink
  6. Enable Uplink
  7. Select your Uplink Access Point under Priority 1
enable unifi wireless uplink feature
Unifi Downlink Access Point

Step 4 – Place your Downlink Access Point

With the Unifi Wireless Uplink configured you can now disconnect your access point from the switch. Place the access point within range of the uplink access point and powered it on with only a PoE Adapter.

It can take a couple of minutes until the access point reappears Online in the network console. You might also see briefly the status Isolated. Just give it some time.

When it’s online you should see that it’s connected to your Uplink access point:

wireless uplink active
Wireless Uplink

Creating an Unifi Wireless Bridge

The Wireless Uplink function on the Unifi access points can be used to create a wireless bridge. This way you can create a wireless connection to your garage in your garden and connect an Unifi Switch and camera on the downlink access point.

To create a wireless bridge you simply need to follow the steps described above to create a wireless uplink connection. The only extra step that you will need to do, is to connect your switch or device to the LAN port of the PoE adapter. Another option is to use a PoE-capable switch, in that case, you can simply connect the switch straight to the downlink access point.

I have tested the wireless bridge setup, somehow my Unifi Network Console doesn’t show the client behind the downlink access point in the topology view. It lists the device as wired connected directly to the main switch, where actually the uplink access point is connected.

Managing Wireless Uplink Connections

When the wireless uplink is active we can view the details of the connection in the overview of the access points. The downlink access point will report in the overview tab the Uplink access point to which it’s connected and the signal strength of the connection.

verify wireless uplink connection

Configure a second uplink access point

A downlink access point can only connect to a single uplink access point at the time. However, it’s possible to configure a second access point as a fallback. This way the downlink access point will remain connected in case the connection is lost to the uplink access point.

For this, you will need to have a second access point in the range of the downlink access point. Make sure that you have enabled meshing on the second access point and allow downlink connections.

  1. On the downlink access point open settings
  2. Scroll down to Meshing
  3. Select a second access point under Priority 2
set priority

You can also leave this setting the priority 2 on auto in case you have multiple uplink access points in range that could be used as an uplink access point.

Multiple Downlink Access Points to a Single Uplink

It’s possible to connect multiple downlink access points to a single uplink access point. But keep in mind that every access point will consume resources from the uplink. So don’t connect too many access points to a single one. Try to keep it at two as max.

Unifi Mesh network

You can simply set the same access point as priority 1 in the downlink access points.

Multi-Hop Wireless Uplink

Creating a mesh network or multi-hop wireless uplink is also possible with the latest firmware. To configure a multi-hop wireless uplink you will need to enable Downlink and Uplink on the first downlink access point (LA-Kitchen in the example below):

Unifi multi-hop network

Make sure that Downlink is disabled on the second hop (LA-Garage in the example) and only Uplink is configured. For the best performance, you should set the priority to the first downlink access point (LA-Kitchen).

Frequently Asked Questions

Clients are not connecting to the downlink access point

When clients don’t connect to the new downlink access point, then make sure that you are using different channels between the uplink and downlink access point. The clients will have issues connecting when both access points are on the same channel

Unable to select Uplink Access Point

Make sure that all access points are members of the same Broadcasting group under Settings > Wifi > and then your wireless network.

Unable to enable Meshing

If you don’t see the option Enable Meshing on the access points, then Wireless Meshing is probably turned off in your wireless settings.

1. Open Settings
2. Select WiFi
3. Scroll down and enable Wireless Meshing

Also, make sure that you set the Connectivity Monitor Type to Gateway.

Uplink Access Point is not listed under Uplink

When you have your downlink access point wired and connected for configuration, you might be unable to select the uplink access point.

If you have enabled Uplink – Connected to another Access Point, then just disconnect the access point from the switch. Only connect it to a PoE adapter and it will show up in your Unifi Console.

Wrapping Up

Creating an Unifi wireless uplink network is pretty easy. It should work with meshing set to auto, but I prefer to manually configure the uplink access points. Also, keep in mind that you disable the Downlink function on the access point that you don’t want to use as an uplink access point.

If you have trouble connecting or finding the uplink access points then make sure that you have configured static channels that don’t overlap.

If you have any questions, just drop a comment below.

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10 thoughts on “How to Set up a Unifi Wireless Uplink”

  1. I could not get this to work with 2 U6-Pro’s and I am wondering if you need dual connections as if I setup with just a POE injector with no network connection it works but as soon as I connect to a POE switch the AP remains offline in the console.

  2. WOW! Thank you so very much for writing such a detailed example of how the uplink and downlink works. UI is very relaxed in their documentation, they selectively mention this feature. You did a superb job and I am thankful for not only making it easy but a joy to read.
    Cheers

  3. A great and thorough article. Thank you. It worked perfectly. First time. 2 AP LR’s.
    One small glitch is you need to install Java 8 (2014…?) to get the desktop (browser) mac version of the Network interface to work but thats a minor (although odd) inconvenience.
    The Network iOS app does not have this level of access and seems only good for stand alone devices.
    Thank you again.

  4. Hi Ruud,

    thanks you very much for this usefull how-to. Just a quick question: do you know if the NanoHD supports “wireless uplink” ?

    Best Regards,
    Stephane

    • Hi I wanted to setup my NAS in a closet without ethernet and found this article. Worked like a charm with my 2 NanoHDs. Thanks Rudy for the great how to and Stephane you will have no issues if you follow Rudy’s instructions.

      Thanks again.

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