How to Setup a Ubiquiti Unifi Access Point

Poor wifi coverage at home? Want enterprise-class wifi for an affordable price and easy to install? Sound too good to be true, but it’s possible. Take a look at Ubiquiti Unifi Access Points, they are pretty cheap, decent and centrally managed with a controller (a small piece of software).

In this post I will guide you how to set up a Unifi Access Point, starting with choosing the right Access Point, and location to install it.

Which Unifi Access Point should you Choose?

Ubiquiti offers a small line of Unifi Access Points starting a 80 dollars. For that price, you get a UAC-AC-Lite which is perfect for home installations. The difference between the AC-Lite and AC-LR and AC-PRO are in the speed, range and capacity. The main differences between the models are:

 AC-LiteAC-LRAC-Pro
2.4Ghz speed 300Mbps450Mbps450Mbps
5Ghz speed450Mbps876Mbps1300Mbps
Range122m (400ft)183m183m
Size (diameter)160mm175mm198mm

The range of the Access Points depends on where you place it, how your house is constructed if there are other wifi related devices or a lot of metal nearby. Plaster or concrete walls tend to have the most negative impact, but really any obstruction including cabinets will weaken the signal to some degree.


Where to place the Access Point

So for in-house placements, the AC-Lite or AC-LR are most of the time the best fit. To determine where to place the Access Point you need to keep in mind that the Unifi Access Point has a doughnut shape coverage with the Access Point in the middle.
Also, try to place the Access Point in the room where the wifi is used the most and at least 1 mtr away from other appliances that send wireless signals in the same frequency (cordless phones and microwaves for example). Also, large metal objects (fireplaces, chimney) tent to weaken the signal.

Depending on your floor type you will need one for every floor or you can do with just one Access Point on the first floor or ground floor ceiling. If you have wooden floors, you could start with just one Access Point. Place it in a central location without any obstruction for the best coverage.
When you have concrete floors, you will need to install an Access Point on every floor for a decent coverage. The rebar and concrete weaken the signal too much for good coverage.

You can also check out this post about the best home network setup. It has some example floorplans where you can see how important the right location is for a good wifi signal.

Installing the Unifi Access

So we now know what to buy, where to place it, but how do we install and manage it?

Step 1 – Unpack and connect

I won’t go into detail too much about the actual placement of the Access Point, the Unifi Access Points come with a perfectly clear installation instruction on how to to mount the Access Point.
But before you actually place it, first just connect it to your switch or router with the supplied PoE adapter. This way you can install it, reset it and see what happens more easily than walking upstairs to check the light all time 😉

Step 2 – Manage your Unifi AC

There are multiple options to configure your Access Point, you can use a Controller (a small piece of software), cloud controller (requires Cloud Key) and a mobile app.

  • The Controller doesn’t need to be running all the time, so you can install it on your notebook, configure your Access Points and they will keep working, the only disadvantage is that you don’t have all the insights that you get when the controller is running 24/7.
  • Cloud key is a small device that is bought separately for $ 90,- and that you connect to your network. When connected you can manage your network remotely.
  • Mobile App can be used to configure a standalone device. So if you have just one access points and no specials needs (like multiple SSIDs) then you can use the Mobile App to set it up.

Download the Controller Software

  1. To install and manage the Unifi Access Point we need to download the controller. Go to the download page at ubnt.com and download the latest controller from Windows, Mac or Linux:Download Unifi Accesspoint software
  2. After you installed the software, start the controller and hit “Launch a Browser  to Manage a Network” or goto https://localhost:8443 in your browser. When you get a warning just click “Advanced” and “Continue to..”Starting the Unifi Access Point controller
  3. Select your location and timezone and continue.
  4. On the next page, Configure devices, you will the see the connected Access Points. Select the devices that you want to configure. If there are no discovered devices, but your Access Point is running and the light is glowing white then there is something wrong (obvious).
    1. Check your local firewall. If you have any internet protection software running like Norton, Avast or any other firewall software on your computer, open it and disable your firewall to see if you can find the devices.
    2. Download the Ubiquiti Device Discovery Tool from the Chrome App store. With this tool, you can scan your network for Ubiquiti devices. Check if there are on the same network as you are.
    3. Reset the Access Point, hold the reset button for 5 sec to set it back to factory settings.
  5. Configure your Wifi network, enter a name for your Wifi network and a strong password. You can change these details later.
  6. Next is the admin credentials for the controller and the device credentials. The latter is to manage is Access Point without a controller.
  7. When done, click finish and login in for the first time into the Controller. You will see the dashboard with the connected devices.

Unifi setup access point wizard

Optimizing your Access Points

So we are now logged-in the controller and our Access Point is running you first should upgrade the firmware. This contains the latest bug fixes and features for your Access Point.

  1. Goto Devices and click on Upgrade on the right sideUnifi Access Point overview
  2. If your controller is not online 24/7 you should turn off the Uplink Connectivity Monitor in Settings – Site. This will make the Access Points work better when the controller is not available.Unifi controller site settings

 

 

Disable the wifi on your old Router

The last step is to disable the wifi on your old router because the UAP is strong enough to cover your entire house. You can’t just unplug your router, you need it for you internet connection. To disable the wifi on your router, you need to login the admin interface of your router (most of the time you will find it on http://192.168.1.1 or http://192.168.1.254), find the Wireless settings, and turn it off.