Ubiquiti Home Network Setup – part 2

Finally, this is the follow up post to My Experiences with consumer mesh wireless devices and Ubiquiti Home Network Setup – part 1

After quite a while at my parents looking taking care of family stuff I have finally managed to get back home, and I bet my partner is thrilled, because as soon as I’m back, in goes more network stuff, including holes through walls and cabling.

So my home setup now consists of:
Draytek Vigor 130 modem
Ubiquiti Dream Machine
Two Ubiquiti Flex Mini switches
A single Ubiquiti AC-Lite AP with another following later this week:

Unifi Devices

The living room switch is wired directly from the office, with a Cat6 run out from the office, outside and round the outside of the house and back into the living room, leaving the current setup looking something like this;

Home network map

The cabling wasn’t strictly necessary , I could have used the second AP in wireless uplink mode, but since I can wire it in, I’ll certainly see better performance from doing it.

There are a few small annoyances that I’ve seen, things I’ve become aware of due to the wealth of features on the Ubiquiti kit, but certainly not caused by it. First, my partners work laptop is old enough that the wireless chip in it doesn’t support fast roaming, so it can be a bit of a pain when she moves between the two APs, whereas my work laptop does support it. Previously on the consumer wireless devices, where they do support fast roaming, there’s then no way to see which client devices are capable of that, whereas I can just look at my client device table to see here exactly what does and doesn’t support it.
Second, the 2.4GHz wireless bands round here are just a noisy mess, with seemingly every house nearby blaring out 2.4GHz at full strength, although this seems to be a problem everywhere these days. The number of times I’ve heard our network guys at work cursing our very central London office, with an absolutely full 2.4GHz spectrum. (Side note, in that office even the 5GHz bands are full, and we get evacuation alerts far more frequently than anyone would want, for anything above band 48)

I’ve dropped the transmit power down as appropriate, so don’t look at me for noisy 2.4GHz bands, and when the second AC-Lite comes, I’ll have to tune everything again. Wireless channel widths have been reduced, as I’m not trying to push huge data throughput on wireless, just to cover Internet speed, which until OpenReach pull FTTP out of the bag in my area, isn’t that fast. Anything that needs big throughput, gets wired in. That leaves me at 20Mhz channels for 2.4GHz bands and 40MHz channels for 5GHz bands, nothing mad, but enough for what I need.

When summer rolls round next year, the new network should easily stretch to the garden, enabling me to work outside, and I can get my partner to start nagging work for a device that supports fast roaming to solve that little conundrum.

Doing two proper setups like this with Ubiquiti kit has been an absolute breath of fresh air compared to the various consumer mesh wireless kits I looked at, and I really can’t imagine I’d go back to consumer grade stuff again, even if tacking a long length of Cat6 to a wall was a bloody pain.

Ubiquiti Home Network Setup – part 1

Update 11/11/2020: I’ve followed this post up with Ubiquiti Home Network Setup – part 2

This is kind of a follow up to my previous post, My Experience With Consumer Mesh Wireless Devices

Due to unfortunate personal circumstances I’ve not actually been at home recently, so as far as my home setup goes, I’ve only made minor progress. I’ve decided I will go all in and refresh my home network setup to a Ubiquiti system. At present that’s involved getting a Ubiquiti UDM coupled with a Draytek 130 modem to replace the core of the network. This will be further supplemented with a FlexHD AP somewhere else in the house when I’ve had chance to actually do a bit of a site survey. I’ve no space for racking any kit, so have had to go with the UDM rather than the UDM Pro.

At my parents house however, I’ve spent ample time and that meant I had an urgent need to make some changes to their network, as I’ve had to work from there for the last three months. They were basically in the same boat as myself in terms of wanting blanket wireless coverage, with the exception that they have a fairly large house that’s quite long, and has been extended, so has internal walls that were external walls, making them thicker than usual.

I started with the same Ubiquiti UDM, Draytek 130 and added a FlexHD, two AC Lite APs, and a couple of Flex Mini switches, with a few long cable runs this has improved things massively for them.

Unifi Devices

In total there’s approximately 40 network clients, and everything seems to be working great after I’d done a little tuning around channels and transmit powers. The FlexHD covers off the end of the house with the most wireless clients, as you can see on this cool map:

My parents home network map

My goal here was stability and internet connectivity, there’s no need for them to be pushing insane speeds with 80 or 160Mhz wide 5Ghz channels, it’d just create noise and use up airtime unnecessarily, this is purely for internet connectivity, and that’s exactly what I’ve managed to achieve. Problems with their previous kit were frequent, with drop outs or weird bugs in software, but since the upgrade, everything has been very stable and I must say I’m a full convert to Ubiquiti kit, it’s been absolutely great to use.

One cool thing that I have seen through the Ubiquiti kit, is the absolute proliferation of wireless hotspots in cars and on phone. Sat in their house I can generally see three other neighbouring access points when I check wireless networks available, which are the neighbours either side and the house over the street. However, looking at the neighbouring access points list in the console, shows me 206 access points in a 24 hour period!

Neighbouring access points

All the static ones in neighbours houses will be there, but swamped out by the sheer number that pass in cars, and are only ever seen briefly, as their house backs onto a relatively busy road, and the clue that these are in cars is in the AP names;

There’s a lot of cool features on the Ubiquiti kit, and if you’re a bit of a network or IT nerd, I’d highly recommend it if you’ve been struggling with home wireless.

Still to come

Next up will be the network changes when I get home. I’d imagine it’ll be a very similar setup to the one I’ve done for my parents, as anything that needs high speeds or low latency, like the NAS or my gaming PC will be wired, and wireless just need to be stable and of more than internet speeds. So look out for that to come in the next few weeks hopefully, I’m looking forward to doing it all again at home.