Question Ubiquiti Controller vs "Stand Alone" via the Unifi App.

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
Hi all,

Out of my depth here...
I picked up a couple of AP-AC-Pros over the weekend, which are powered via my TPLink T1600G-28PS switch (switch is only being utilized for POE and otherwise 'dumb').
This is a temporary setup before long-term implementation when my new house is ready in a couple of months.

While I know 'what' I want, the 'how' element is beyond my scope of knowledge.
Basically, I only want strong Wifi throughout. Majority of the devices will be hard-wired, so only really mobile devices & the occassional IoT device.

For the APs..
Initially, I set everything up via the Windows .exe controller, although upon reboot of the system, both AP's noted "missed heartbeat" and then "disconnected".
However, Wifi was still functional, I just couldn't control anything.

I decided to try out the Andoird App, and control them as "standalone devices". Easy enough, and all seems to be working as intended. Very little in terms of configuration available of course, but the intent is for basic home use.

I like everything to be overkill (hence these AP, the large POE switch etc), but at the end of the day, I'm probably the target audience for the "standalone devices" option.

Anyway... questions:
  1. In a residential environment where anything that can be hard-wired (CAT6) is wired, is there any benefit from a dedicated controller running 24/7 (either official controller, Raspberry Pi or similar)? Anything in particular I should note?
  2. ", would there be any noticeable benefit in opting for my owner router (UBMT or otherwise) vs the ISPs provided router* with Wifi radios disabled? Anything in particular I should note?

*Setup should be a Nokia ONT for a fiber line, CAT6 to ISP provided modem/combo all in one, CAT6 into my POE switch and out via a patch panel to ~12 ports throughout the house/garage (POE enabled/disabled per port accordingly).
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Anyway... questions:
  1. In a residential environment where anything that can be hard-wired (CAT6) is wired, is there any benefit from a dedicated controller running 24/7 (either official controller, Raspberry Pi or similar)? Anything in particular I should note?
  2. ", would there be any noticeable benefit in opting for my owner router (UBMT or otherwise) vs the ISPs provided router* with Wifi radios disabled? Anything in particular I should note?
Are you already running PIHole? I run the controller software on the same PI4 as I run PIHole. I use the POE hat and power the PI from my network.
Is there a "benefit" to a 24/7 controller? Without a Ubiquiti router (USG/USG-PRO) the benefits are minimal. The newer Ubiquiti routers (UDM/UDM-PRO) have a controller built-into them.
Now the benefits of a Ubiquiti router vs ISP ... Do you want VLANs? I have a guest network that spans 3 APs and an IOT SSID that is only on 2.4Ghz and is on a VLAN. That is quite easy to do with Ubiquiti. You can't do things like that with an ISP router. My home network is a 192.168. My IOT network is a 10. Easy to tell they are separate. Want to "try" radius authentication? The Ubiquiti routers have radius servers built-in. Want to terminate a VPN? They can do that also.
They are targeted to small businesses. They DON'T have parental controls that are easy to use. They do have the option of disabling WIFI on a schedule.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
Thanks @kanewolf
Honestly, I had no idea what PIHole was initially - so, no.
Just questioning whether a dedicated controller was particularly beneficial and used a Pi as an example - I don't even currently own one.

In terms of VLANs, I hadn't given it too much though.
The thought of a guest network and a dedicated IoT VLAN sounds appealing. I'd definitely have to do some reading as far as specifics.

I thought I could configure VLANs via my switch (if I wanted to use more than it's 'dumb' functionality), but that's about the extent of any assumptions I've made.


To put into context the scope of my (lack of) knowledge in the networking space, it took me longer than I care to admit to establish how to connect to my switch (defaults to 192.168.0.1) when my home network is a 'normal' 192.168.1.x to assign it (and devices connected to it) a static IP
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Thanks @kanewolf
Honestly, I had no idea what PIHole was initially - so, no.
Just questioning whether a dedicated controller was particularly beneficial and used a Pi as an example - I don't even currently own one.

In terms of VLANs, I hadn't given it too much though.
The thought of a guest network and a dedicated IoT VLAN sounds appealing. I'd definitely have to do some reading as far as specifics.

I thought I could configure VLANs via my switch (if I wanted to use more than it's 'dumb' functionality), but that's about the extent of any assumptions I've made.


To put into context the scope of my (lack of) knowledge in the networking space, it took me longer than I care to admit to establish how to connect to my switch (defaults to 192.168.0.1) when my home network is a 'normal' 192.168.1.x to assign it (and devices connected to it) a static IP
First, I highly recommend a PIHole.
You can have VLANs but if they all dump into a "dumb" router then there is no separation.

What ISP speed do you have? What type interface (discrete modem, fiber to an ONT, combo modem/router)?
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
Ok, I'll look into it.

I don't have the ISP setup yet, as this won't be fully implemented for a couple of months when the house is built.
Aiming for Gigabit. This will be my first experience with a fiber connection so not 100% sure here, but the ONT replaces a modem, correct? In that case, it would be ONT + ISP provided router, initially at least

edit
Appears the ISP still provides an "Advanced Wifi Modem/Router" combo downstream of the ONT, which is some moot functionality, AFAIK? And I don't need the Wifi functionality of it, so maybe my own Router (UBMT or otherwise) is a better option long-term if there's a rental fee for the Combo unit.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Ok, I'll look into it.

I don't have the ISP setup yet, as this won't be fully implemented for a couple of months when the house is built.
Aiming for Gigabit. This will be my first experience with a fiber connection so not 100% sure here, but the ONT replaces a modem, correct? In that case, it would be ONT + ISP provided router, initially at least

edit
Appears the ISP still provides an "Advanced Wifi Modem/Router" combo downstream of the ONT, which is some moot functionality, AFAIK? And I don't need the Wifi functionality of it, so maybe my own Router (UBMT or otherwise) is a better option long-term if there's a rental fee for the Combo unit.
It is worth asking the ISP if there is a bring-your-own-router option. They may have an ethernet option out of the ONT or a modem only option.
Gigabit ethernet to the home is a waste of money, IMO. It is difficult to use 400/500Mbit. It sounds cool, but you really don't benefit.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
I've seen the ONT they use (buddy of mine has one), and as I understand it, it's fiber into the ONT, ethernet out to the modem/router all-in-one. However, in these scenarios, the modem element simply isn't used.

I went to put a switch in for my buddy, to feed extra rooms in his house (for APs). However the ONT is in the basement, and feeds the router (via the only active ethernet port in the house!) which is mounted behind his TV on the main floor.
Took me longer than I care to admit to realize the switch needed to be placed downstream of the router - and we had no desire to remove the TV at the time.


Bringing my own router is an option, from what I can find on the ISP's own forum (Telus, FWIW), and sounds like plenty of users have ethernet running from the ONT to their own router, foregoing the ISP provided equipment (sans ONT) altogether.

As far as Gigabit to the home, I completely agree. However, as a new community with this particular ISP as the primary provider, I have a few options available...

1. Internet/Phone/Optik TV for Free for a year (basic internet in the realm of 25Mbps down / 5 up). Potentially some wiggle room here, as I don't want/need the home phone or TV aspects.

2. Gigabit "940" down/up, no data cap for $85* CAD/month for 24 months (24 month contract) and $170 CAD/month thereafter ($155 + $15 for "unlimited").

*Considering I've been paying ~$120/month for 100/30 for the past ~5 years, I think at the very least, I'll be taking them up on Gigabit for 24 months @ $85/month.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
As far as Gigabit to the home, I completely agree. However, as a new community with this particular ISP as the primary provider, I have a few options available...

1. Internet/Phone/Optik TV for Free for a year (basic internet in the realm of 25Mbps down / 5 up). Potentially some wiggle room here, as I don't want/need the home phone or TV aspects.

2. Gigabit "940" down/up, no data cap for $85* CAD/month for 24 months (24 month contract) and $170 CAD/month thereafter ($155 + $15 for "unlimited").
Given those options, you have to do the gigabit.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
Yeah, really no reason not to. At least for 24 months.
Even long-term, if that pricing stands, I'd probably just stick with it/negotiable somewhere in between $85-$170.

Apparently if I do it online, I even get a $150 bill credit... so the first two months are essentially free.

Not sure I trust this pricing model to be sustainable, but that's their problem, not mine. At least, not for 2 years.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
So, decided I'm going to pick up a Cloud Key Gen2 Plus.
It's the controller + NVR, for ~$260 (CAD). Going to need an NVR too, eventually, and think I'm going to pick up a couple of G3Flex Cameras, so the CloudKey makes a lot of sense - and handles the controller aspect too.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
So, decided I'm going to pick up a Cloud Key Gen2 Plus.
It's the controller + NVR, for ~$260 (CAD). Going to need an NVR too, eventually, and think I'm going to pick up a couple of G3Flex Cameras, so the CloudKey makes a lot of sense - and handles the controller aspect too.
Are you going to use a Ubiquiti router ? The newer models UDM and UDMPro have a cloud key integrated into them.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
So, got my CloudKey Gen2+ and a couple of G3 Flex Cameras yesterday.

Took me a bit to get the Network component migrated over - should be able to 'force adopt' the already set up APs, but couldn't figure that out. Reset them one at a time and adopted into the new controller.

Another month before I move & can get the cameras mounted in their permanent locations (outside), but couldn't resist testing the cameras out.

Pixel 3XL reference image:


Camera image


Camera image with night mode.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
I have a G3 flex in the garage. I got it just to play with. I don't know if I like the Ubiquiti cameras or not. I have mostly Panasonic business cameras.
Time will tell with these. The plan (at the moment) is to have these two outside under eaves. One out back, one out front. They're not fully waterproof, but supposedly do well enough outdoors under cover.

I'm liking the thought of the one ecosystem though - I'm patiently waiting for Ubiquiti's G4 Doorbell, rather than picking up a Ring or Nest, so I'll probably opt for one of their higher tier cameras if these don't do so great outdoors.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Time will tell with these. The plan (at the moment) is to have these two outside under eaves. One out back, one out front. They're not fully waterproof, but supposedly do well enough outdoors under cover.

I'm liking the thought of the one ecosystem though - I'm patiently waiting for Ubiquiti's G4 Doorbell, rather than picking up a Ring or Nest, so I'll probably opt for one of their higher tier cameras if these don't do so great outdoors.
The doorbell sold out quickly in the EA store. They also have released a WIFI6 AP in the EA store.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
The doorbell sold out quickly in the EA store. They also have released a WIFI6 AP in the EA store.
Yeah, trying to get anything from the EA store is difficult. Once they're released to market, they'll be delayed on being released on the Canadian storefront too.... So it'll end up being quite expensive having to order/ship from the US.

The USW-Flex-Mini's sell out in a matter of minutes every couple of weeks (and only sold as a single vs the US store that has packs of them, and always in stock). And that's just a basic 5 port switch (albeit POE powered), I'm going to struggle to get ahold of any 'new' launch like the Doorbell anywhere close to release without turning to eBay.

Yeah, saw the notice the Wifi6 AP was there. Would be a nice drop-in replacements for my AP-AC-Pros, in time.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Yeah, trying to get anything from the EA store is difficult. Once they're released to market, they'll be delayed on being released on the Canadian storefront too.... So it'll end up being quite expensive having to order/ship from the US.

The USW-Flex-Mini's sell out in a matter of minutes every couple of weeks (and only sold as a single vs the US store that has packs of them, and always in stock). And that's just a basic 5 port switch (albeit POE powered), I'm going to struggle to get ahold of any 'new' launch like the Doorbell anywhere close to release without turning to eBay.

Yeah, saw the notice the Wifi6 AP was there. Would be a nice drop-in replacements for my AP-AC-Pros, in time.
Yeah, trying to get anything from the EA store is difficult. Once they're released to market, they'll be delayed on being released on the Canadian storefront too.... So it'll end up being quite expensive having to order/ship from the US.

The USW-Flex-Mini's sell out in a matter of minutes every couple of weeks (and only sold as a single vs the US store that has packs of them, and always in stock). And that's just a basic 5 port switch (albeit POE powered), I'm going to struggle to get ahold of any 'new' launch like the Doorbell anywhere close to release without turning to eBay.

Yeah, saw the notice the Wifi6 AP was there. Would be a nice drop-in replacements for my AP-AC-Pros, in time.
The WIFI6 is the same size as the nanoHD. If you use nanoHDs then the mounting hardware is unchanged from what I read.
I bought a flexMini switch. ehhhh is all I can say. Again it was just something to play with. I don't like to recommend things that I have never used.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
The WIFI6 is the same size as the nanoHD. If you use nanoHDs then the mounting hardware is unchanged from what I read.
I bought a flexMini switch. ehhhh is all I can say. Again it was just something to play with. I don't like to recommend things that I have never used.
Yeah, I saw that. I have the slightly larger AC-Pros. Oh well, no rush on that front anyway.

The FlexMini.... it's just a basic switch, right? Other than being POE powered, nothing special.
I like the idea of the POE input - one less power adapter, and would be useful to add more ports at a given location - but beyond dropping a power adapter from the equation, it's no real improvement over any other of my 5port switches.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Yeah, I saw that. I have the slightly larger AC-Pros. Oh well, no rush on that front anyway.

The FlexMini.... it's just a basic switch, right? Other than being POE powered, nothing special.
I like the idea of the POE input - one less power adapter, and would be useful to add more ports at a given location - but beyond dropping a power adapter from the equation, it's no real improvement over any other of my 5port switches.
The flexMini is a stripped down switch. It does have Jumbo support, but can't do the fancy port controls that a regular Ubiquiti switch can. It has a different software baseline than all the other APs and switches.
 

Codeblue009

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Feb 26, 2006
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Hi Barty,

I am not sure if I have anything more of value to tell you, but my entire house has the Ubiquiti Network. I have two network closets in the house, USG-PRO Managed Router (ISP Modem connected to the USG via passthrough), Two POE switches, cloud key, and 3 AP-PROs. The APs are all connected to the 48 port POE switch (Main Network Closet) and all first floor ports (all wall jacks) are connected to the 24 port POE switch downstairs. I have Gigabit ISP provider and my switches are capable of 10 Gig networking.

You mention overkill, so my setup is kind of that way, but it functions for me the way I want my home network to work. All my TVs and Theatre Projector are all connected via RJ-45 (wires are hidden) and connected to the corresponding switch (network closet). All wireless devices are automatically on the 5 GHz spectrum. I have a lot of interference with the 2.4 spectrum where I live, so I need my wireless devices to operate on the 5 GHz spectrum.

I need the bandwidth, due to uploading and sending large design files from home. Now in full honesty, I chose Ubiquiti because of the value I was getting, and many people saying it was easy to setup. I found at the time I purchased and installed this equipment it was not so easy. I had setup everything according to directions. Now, I am no network engineer, but the way Ubiquiti explains how to set this up, it was not complicated. I called customers service and they ran me through the exact same way I set up the equipment and could not figure out why some of my devices were not working with the network. I had some IP cameras and APs that were not working , but identified in the Ubiquiti software. I was on with tech support for over 5 days until I just gave up and hired a network engineer.

So when my network engineer came to my house, I figured that he would find the solution in 5 minutes and make me look like an idiot. Low and behold, he did not, and did the same thing I did to set it up. He spent the better part of a few hours to figure out that there was a bug in the software, and between him and tech support, it took the better part of 5 hours to fix. I hope now that what I went through has been resolved with an update patch, since it has been nearly 3 years since I installed my network, but I can tell you that I am very pleased with my Network now that it is working seamlessly. All VLANs are set up. Xbox, Netflix, Disney and all other streaming services are fast and always connected, via CAT 6 RJ-45. IP Cameras are all function giving a nearly 360 degree look. The range is really good on these cameras for the price and the clarity is very good in the dark.

Now I need to set up some storage or NAS for the house. I have so many files and pictures to save. Also, some media files to go along with that, so I have to figure out what is the best solution for my needs. If you go with Ubiquiti, you are going to get good value and it is very scalable to your needs. Maybe this helps somewhat.
 
Reactions: Barty1884

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
I am not sure if I have anything more of value to tell you, but my entire house has the Ubiquiti Network. I have two network closets in the house, USG-PRO Managed Router (ISP Modem connected to the USG via passthrough), Two POE switches, cloud key, and 3 AP-PROs. The APs are all connected to the 48 port POE switch (Main Network Closet) and all first floor ports (all wall jacks) are connected to the 24 port POE switch downstairs. I have Gigabit ISP provider and my switches are capable of 10 Gig networking.
Your setup is similar to mine. I have a single 24port core switch and distributed 8port switches. I have an AC-PRO, a nanoHD and a AC-M-PRO in the garage.
I have my controller on a PI4B with PI-Hole. I recommend this config.
 

Barty1884

Titan
Moderator
Now I need to set up some storage or NAS for the house. I have so many files and pictures to save. Also, some media files to go along with that, so I have to figure out what is the best solution for my needs. If you go with Ubiquiti, you are going to get good value and it is very scalable to your needs. Maybe this helps somewhat.
It does, and your setup sounds like something I'd like to get to.... in time.

From the outset, home will be wired with at least one Cat6 run (default 5 locations, originally builder spec was Cat5e), plus the two extra I asked the builder to add (including a random one on the side of an upstairs closet for an AP). I intend to add another 4 myself inside, which are all on walls accessible from the mechanical room - and run 3 or 4 runs out to the detached garage for cameras and an AP, or around the side of the house to the entryway for a camera (conduit & pullstring in place).

All in, I should have ~15 Cat6 runs fed into a patch panel, and the router (in) and Gen2+ controller/NVR (out) of the switch - so thus far, a single 24 port switch should do the job. Currently I have a T1600G-28PS I picked up cheap.... and it'll suffice for a while. I'd love to add a 24port 250W Ubiquiti switch into the equation, but can't justify the expense immediately. The TPLink is used though, so if/when it starts to show signs of age, I'll pull the trigger.

In a perfect world, each wall jack would've have at least two runs..... but the builders default was Cat5e + Coax. Anything beyond their 'norm' was disproportionately expensive. The locations I add now, I'll run two to each - but I think I'll be picking up a couple of the USW-Flex-Mini's to take care of the ones with a single port since I have the POE capability to power them everywhere. I do have some MoCa adapters that I could use in a pinch too, but they're messy and require a power outlet too.

I still have some learning to do with VLANs, I'd like to put all _IOT devices on their own VLAN and avoid them being able to communicate with the main network.... Not that I have much that I worry about, but you never know.

The only issue I've had this far, beyond trying to adopt APs that were already setup via the app, was connecting my work S9 to the AP. Wouldn't connect at all. Separated the 2.4 and 5GHz bands temporarily, connected the phone then recombine. No issues since.

Realistically, the scope of my wired network is going to be the two (maybe 3) APs, 3-4 Cams, my desktop, the GF's Desktop, 3-4 Nvidia Shields and then whatever consoles the GF's kid has to be wired in.

I did just sign up for Gigabit. $85 CAD for two years, no cap, so bit their hand off for that!!
 
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