Searching for the best Ubiquiti access points
Searching for the best Ubiquiti access points

Everything you need to know about choosing and deploying the right Ubiquiti access point for you.

Understanding how to choose the best Ubiquiti access points can be quite an overwhelming experience once you see the endless list of Wi-Fi options. You are most likely going down this rabbit hole because someone told you that Ubiquiti Wi-Fi access point deployments are a much more respected business-grade solution, and the off-the-shelf products found at big box stores such as Best Buy and Office Depot simply aren’t doing the job.

While these hardware solutions are not ideal, these Wi-Fi access points get most individuals up and running and can solve many major issues when in a pinch. Upgrading to a solution that meets the needs of a scaling business desperate for network stability is usually when a company like ours comes in. We specialize in cable management and Ubiquiti access points deployments in San Diego when the big box store equipment is falling short and impeding the organization’s productivity.

I post articles like ‘Best Ubiquiti Access Points for Your Business’ for you to ultimately decide whether this is a DIY project or a place to gain more insight into the wonderful world Wi-Fi and cable management. So, let’s get started.

What is Ubiquiti Unifi?

The high-end wireless access points are typically managed by controllers separate from the access point itself. The UniFi® Controller software is a powerful enterprise wireless software introduced by the company called Ubiquiti is an affordable alternative to next-level access points provided by companies like Cisco, Aruba, or Ruckus.  

The flipside, however, is that Ubiquiti Unifi line of products is full of powerful business-grade solutions, but they lack good support. The products were developed by former Apple engineers and contain some typically WTF Apple quirks like lacking SNMP (SNMP is a very important network device feature for business grade networking products that shares the health of the device to Managed IT companies such as us).  

With that said, the Wi-Fi solution itself that we propose here is ideal for high-density client deployments requiring low latency and high uptime performance. 

A single Ubiquiti UniFi Controller running in the cloud can manage multiple sites; multiple, distributed deployments, and multi-tenancy for managed service providers. The wireless access points in each location would need to be able to see the original controller in order to control them.  

How do I choose the best Ubiquiti access point for myself?

Simply looking at the graph below is half the battle. There are generations (look for 5th or 6th generation) to consider along with indoor vs. outdoor or the ability to penetrate walls vs speed.

We provide a Ubiquiti Wi-Fi model selection dump later down the post for making your head spin but check out the new vs old Wi-Fi’s section to clear through the Ubiquiti clutter. Then, you can make a well-informed choice on how to proceed with the best Ubiquiti access points if it fits your fancy.

UAP-AC Network Topology Requirements 

Below we have outlined the prerequisites for setting up Ubiquiti. To save yourself time, check these before getting started on any installation. If you run into any issues and need assistance from WiFi IT Support in San Diego, reach out to us to see how our team of IT professionals can help you.  

You will need:  

  • A DHCP-enabled network.  
  • A management station computer running the Ubiquiti UniFi controller software, located either onsite and connected to the same Layer-2 network or off-site in a cloud NOC.    
  • *The management station can be a workstation or server. The management station that contains the controller software is not required to be on at all times for the access points to work effectively, but it was not designed for the controller to be off regularly. 

Device generation and what’s in stock

Higher density and higher spatial streams on Wave 2 would shine if you’re expecting a lot of users in an area like a conference room or a lobby. For basic coverage, the wave 1 AP’s are fine, but they are getting old.

My recommendation is to consider something newer; I’d rather have a U6-lite than an AC-Lite for $99, but it all depends on what’s in stock and what price it is these days.

Grouped by generation:

  • AC Wave 1
  • AC Wave 2
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Wi-Fi 6E and 60 GHz Bridge
  • Ubiquiti Unifi AC Pro
    • Our default choice for office suites
    • Dual-band WiFi 5 for high-density networks and critical system applications.

ProTip! To purchase and set up Ubiquiti access points requires a Cloud Key controller if you are not utilizing the Ubiquiti Unifi Dream Machine Pro. Make sure you purchase the Unifi Cloud Key if you already have a robust router in place.

UNIFI APS – AC WAVE 1 – Older Generation

UNIFI APS – AC WAVE 2

  • UniFi Dream Machine (UDM) — All-in-one Router/Controller/Switch/AP (not the Pro. Pro is for business)
  • Access Point nanoHD (nanoHD)
  • Access Point FlexHD (FlexHD)
  • Access Point HD (AC-HD)
  • Access Point BeaconHD (BeaconHD) — No Ethernet ports, wireless backhaul only
  • Access Point In-Wall HD (In-Wall HD)
  • Access Point XG (UAP-XG)
  • Wi-Fi BaseStation XG (UWB-XG)

UNIFI APS – WI-FI 6

  • UniFi Dream Router (UDR) — All-in-one UniFi OS Console/Firewall/Switch/AP (not the Pro. Pro is for business)
  • UniFi6 Lite (U6-Lite)
  • UniFi6+ (U6-Plus) — Early access only
  • UniFi6 Long-Range (U6-LR)
  • UniFi6+ Long-Range (U6-Plus-LR) — Early access only
  • UniFi6 Professional (U6-Pro)
  • UniFi6 Mesh (U6-Mesh)
  • UniFi6 Extender (U6-Extender) — No Ethernet ports, wireless backhaul only
  • UniFi6 In-Wall (U6-IW)
Fun Management (controller) station features:
  • Wireless access points can lose their configuration, AKA factory default, by clicking “forget the device” from the management station.    
  • It’s called ‘adopt’ or ‘associate’ when the orphaned wireless device is first attached to network, receives a dynamic IP, and you are joining the device to be managed by the controller. It’s possible to inherit the controller’s wireless access point configuration settings from that point forward.  
  • You can view all the wireless bandwidth hogs, limit their connections, and/or block them. 
  • Wireless access points contain a MAC address and have an alias name. A map can be inserted to easily locate each device. 
  • You can connect to management station (the controller) via a web browser URL: i.e., https://nameofhostcomputer:8443  
  • Loss of functionality really begins at the firmware update. Both the controller and access point need to be on fairly recent updates. However, the latest firmware should give pause as they tend to be a little unpredictable. 
Do you have a POE switch?

For optimized performance without the mess, the best Ubiquiti access points require POE from the Unifi line of products Ubiquiti offers. None of this is a requirement – you are inviting more problems if you don’t provide parity throughout your network environment. At the very least, make sure the switch is a managed POE switch and you have a business-grade router.

Access points are purchased

Congrats! You have done your research on the best Ubiquiti access points for your workplace, made the purchase, and are ready for the Ubiquiti Wi-Fi access point deployment. Unfortunately, purchasing equipment is just the start. Finding a qualified cable management professional for performing the cable runs, terminating the drop location and patch panel, and racking and patching the cable is no small endeavor.

We have preferred vendors that take the cable management drops and terminations very seriously – it’s an art to them. Serious, true IT professionals geek out on how cleanly installed an installation is, which is all an effort to avoid very difficult troubleshooting later. Pinched cables, faulty terminations, and poor runs will lead to disaster. Planning and doing it right the first time is the key to success.

Once the cable management is done, network engineers come in to perform the configuration for the Wi-Fi access point controller, router VLAN segmentation, and overall general securing of the network.

Extra Resources for Ubiquiti Support

Best Ubiquiti Access Points for Your Business Summary

We have learned that buying the equipment without a plan for deployment is a huge mistake. Hiring a qualified cable management team and a project management team to oversee and configure the equipment will ensure a successful outcome for everyone involved.

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