For those following along, I am trying to find a good wireless router solution to connect all the devices in my smart home, reliably. I find that many devices are advertised as supporting hundreds of devices, but, I can’t seem to connect more than about 15 devices reliably. If I add another device, it can see the SSID, but can not connect. Or it connects, can’t transmit data. Or it connects and one of the other devices falls off the network.

A part of the issue is the technology used in the Wifi routers. Another part is all my devices must be on the same network and all are 2.4 ghz. I simply have too high a concentration of devices in one area.

Then I need to administer the network from a device on the same network. It is a pain if the device I administer from is the 15th device as I can’t connect and can’t even turn a light on.

Thus, my journey. results so far –

 

  • HUAWEI Home Gateway HG659 – 14 devices and reliable at this number
  • SonicWall tz100 Wireless – Falls apart after 12. Unreliable.
  • SonicPoint NI standalone AP – Alexa Echo’s fail to function correctly
  • BR-6478AC V2 – EDIMAX – Not as fast or as many devices as the HUAWEI
  • Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Pro – The most devices so far but still not all devices. It seems the more devices I attach, the more the range of this unit drops. The devices furthest from the AP noticeably start having issues.

Now, I would like to use the Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Pro as the main access point and mesh this (uplink) to a Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC LR unit. I selected the LR unit as it is what I had on hand. I would have equally liked to try a second Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Pro.

I am glad to say it is all working well. I now have great coverage.

This was the end result but the journey getting there, was a hard road to travel. If you are a novice, these things can get frustrating. Especially when there was a firmware update and it changed all the settings and hid a number of them.

Firstly, the marketing suggests a lot more connections are possible on these units. In fact, I read 200+

That was marketing….. real life with all these devices pumping through the air, the number is much less.

So lets walk through what I did, the mistakes I made and my experience.

I plugged the AP AC LR into the POE and it was wifi only (other cat 5 lead from the POE was not plugged into anything)

The unit appeared in controller software on my laptop.  I made my first mistake by doing an update for both units as the original AP AC Pro rebooted. It did not warn me. That means whilst it was rebooting, my laptop joined to my other wireless SSID (Private home network) and without thinking, I accidently provisioned on the different network
and the unit then came up as “managed by other”. I had to do a factory reset.

I should have provisioned and updated on an ethernet cable.
Then I noted that the AP AC LR only has one network input connection. The AP AC Pro has 2.

Now I have the AP AC Pro listed as “Updating” and after a factory reset I could not adopt the new AP AC LR unit.
(This is even though the Light on the AP AC LR was white saying it was ready for adoption).

I restarted the controller software. Now I can see the AP AC Pro “Provisioning” and the AP AC LR, pending adoption.
I selected adopt and upgrade.

I set the main unit (AP AC Pro) with a static IP. The AP AC LR I will be using MESH so i left the IP as  assigned by dhcp. The MESH will allow these two units to communicate over  5 ghz using uplink / downlink. This leaves their link off my 2.4 ghz network and also means I can locate the second unit where I have no direct cable link.

In the end, I want the same SSID on each Unifi unit, my aim is to add more devices and more coverage. I don’t want to reconfigure my devices (They all have their own Smart Phone Apps).

I opened the Controller software – settings – site – and selected “enable wireless uplink”.

I then went to the main device (AP AC Pro)- properties – config – radios
I have an option for auto or manual meshing. I selected manual.
I told the main unit to be a downlink (other AP’s connect to this one)

I then selected the other device (AP AC LR) – properties – config – radios
I went to the auto or manual meshing, selected manual.
I told it to uplink (connect to other AP)

This was complete and I told it to upload the configuration changes.
None of my devices would connect to the new Unifi unit. I figured that they were already associated with the other unit and it would be fastest to simply reboot the main unit.

I rebooted it and now the AP AC LR appears as isolated. It was not talking. I had to adopt it again.
Whilst this was happening. I looked for a way to make this unit have the same SSID. I could not find a way to make it have same SSID or set the SSID but in the description it says the correct SSID name. It looks like I create SSID at the “Network’ configuration level.

I sat and waited, suddenly all came up ok and some end points moved to new unit. Suddenly those devices with a poor experience and flagged on the Unifi interface as an issue, were all happy. The one with the lowest quality moved from 5% to 90%. This looks really good. I started adding more and devices. I got up to 19 and things are now balancing across the two units.

Whilst this is not a single AP solution, this seems to work and everything is now more reliable.