Extending Wifi With UniFi AC Lite vs. the Eero Review and discussion

Everybody gets Lawnside, but now we’re going to take a look today at extending a wireless network and doing so on a budget. So a lot of people have been talking about this new ero system that costs about five hundred dollars, which is definitely not a budget price, but what they do with that kid is give you three wireless access points in the box. They set up a mesh network kind of automatically and if you have dead zones in your house, this presumably will get those covered. However, that price tag is pretty steep and I wanted to find out a way of getting my own Wi-Fi working better in the house. Without spending that much on the Eero kit and a lot of people have mentioned this to me in the past – and I actually use some of these at my day job.

These are ubiquity unify, AC, light access points, they’re very inexpensive, they’re about $ 85, a piece and they work wonderfully and if you get two or three of them, you’re still going to be far less invested in dollars and you would be with the Eero system. So I haven’t tried the EO, so I really can’t comment as to whether or not it works or not. But I do know these work and if you’re willing to do just a little bit of extra work, upfront you’re going to have a very good wireless network. Setup in your home now it’s very important to point out is that this is not a router. This is strictly a wireless access point.

It looks like a little UFO they’re designed to be wall mounted or mounted on a ceiling. They give you brackets for both, including brackets for drop ceilings which, of course, are often found in offices, and that’s because this is really an enterprise level device that is being sold at a budget price. Now I purchase these with my own funds. I bought three of them for about eighty five dollars apiece on Amazon. I have no relationship with ubiquity the makers of this device, so nobody is paying for this review and all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own, because nobody is looking at this video before it is posted either, and these are really simple from a hardware Standpoint, you’ve got the mountable access point here and then only one connector on it, and that is for Ethernet, because these work over a protocol or a standard called Power over Ethernet, where both the data and the electricity are supplied by the ethernet, cable and there’s a Couple of ways to accomplish this, the first thing is something they give you in the box, which is what they call a little p OE injector.

So this is something you plug into your wall and then you just run the p OE out to the device here and you will get both the land that you’re plugging into here, as well as the power sent over the wire to the device. And that’s all you need to get hooked up and what’s great about this, is that you don’t need an electrician to come out to your home to get this working. You don’t need an outlet near it. All you got to do is run Ethernet to it and you are ready to go. In fact, you could put this near your router or access point and just run the cable off of it or likewise, by a power over ethernet switch and have that electrical function built right in there’s.

Also a reset button here for just getting it reset back to factory default settings, and that is pretty much it, and the reason why that is it is because everything is controlled via a software controller application that you run on your computer. It runs on Linux, it runs on the Mac, it runs on the windows side of things too, so you have whatever computer you have you’ll likely be able to configure this. The application does not have to be running all the time, but I do recommend running it. All the time just so, you can see what’s going on with your network. So let’s boot this up, plug this in and see how this all works all right.

So your first step is to install the unify controller on your computer, and that is because these do not have little web servers built-in that you log into all the software, runs on a computer, and these things just take the settings, and that is why they cost. So little because there isn’t a lot of stuff on here that it needs to support all the configuration software that a lot of other products do. So what you do is just get this software installed and when you load up the at little wizard here, you can actually get it done and configured right here so what’ll happen is it’ll, find all of the unify access points that are currently on the network that Are unassigned? So if you had two or three of these plugged into your router, you could just click on each of them. Click on next here set up your wireless network.

You can establish a guest network if you want to do that. Click Next again set up a password click finish and you’ll be done. You’D actually have your network already set up and ready to go, but there is a ton of depth to this because these things really are designed for enterprise installations. So you can do a lot of cool stuff on here and again for 160 bucks for two of them, or just a little bit over that you can really set up an enterprise level wireless network in your house, and I think that’s what’s really cool about these Things especially given that they’re not all that expensive to get there, so I’m going to do now is show you how I have mine configured and there’s a bunch of different ways to do this, because wireless configuration is kind of like a dark art. There’S a million different ways to do it, there’s right ways and wrong ways, but there’s everyone’s got their own kind of method to it.

I’M just going to show you what I’m doing so. You can get a feel for what I’m trying to accomplish here in my home and how I did it now. What I did do is I left one band on my Asus router downstairs on, so you still need your router by the way with these things. These are just wireless access points and what I did on my Asus router was disabled. It’S 5 gigahertz radio, but left the 2.

gigahertz radio on that. What I’ve done in a prior video is described, how wireless AC works and what these bands mean. So I would suggest, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I check out that video first before you move forward with this one. So you can understand some of the terminology involved with what we’re talking about here. But the reason why I did that was because I wanted to keep the 5 gigahertz band of wireless radios to myself and have my daughter and my wife on the 2.

gigahertz band and what’s nice about 2.4 gigahertz is that it has a much wider range to It so my Asus router downstairs has a really good range to it and it covers the entire house, but the 5 gigahertz band doesn’t reach as far and that’s why I went with these like instead of a bunch of these, have strong 5 gigahertz signals everywhere in The house and I’m going so that I can really get the best possible performance and have it all to myself, because that is the benefit of being the dad in the house who sets all this stuff up. I can claim something for myself so selfishly now we will go into my configuration and we’ll see exactly how we have everything set up and working alright. So now we’re into the guts of the unify system and we’re going to start with our list of devices which are the wireless access points on my network. So you see, we’ve got a family room, a bedroom, and then we have this one which right now is just a Mac address, because this one is on the network, but it isn’t yet part of my swarm of devices just yet I have to adopt it.

So I’m going to scroll over here a little bit and you’ll see there’s an option here to adopt the access points. I’M going to click on this and what’s going to happen now, is that this access point on the desk is getting injected into my a wireless network and once it’s done provisioning and pairing up with the software controller, it is ready to go so it now has All the settings for my network and I can go place this somewhere. In fact, this one is destined for my basement and once it’s plugged into the network and hanging from the ceiling, that’s it it’s ready to go and I can control it all from my software. Here so you can imagine in an enterprise environment. In fact, I use these at my day, job some older ones.

We can configure six of these all over the place and we can configure all of them from a single computer and when something is not working correctly. I want to change something I don’t have to go and find each of the IP addresses for these things on the network. I can do it all from one spot, which is really really cool now it’s also cool about these is that, although we have it right now connected to my network, these can work as repeaters also, so you can actually pair this up with another unify access. Point. That’S in your house or enterprise somewhere and have it repeat that particular access point signal.

So if you don’t have an Ethernet network going out to a particular spot, it can act as a repeater. You do, of course, need an Ethernet cable for power, but if your network isn’t going out that far, these do work in kind of a mesh environment too you’ll get a little bit of a speed hit for that, but it does work and I think I’ll show You how that gets set up in a few minutes when we go through some of the configurations. So right now we’ve got this new one here on our list of devices, and I kind of want to give it a name because having it just be, a number is a little confusing for knowing where it is, I’m going to click on it here and that’s Going to pull up my configuration screen on the side here, I’m going to click on configure, I’m going to call this one basement and I’ll click on apply, and now we have a name of basement here for this one. So I know which one I am working on and I’ll just step through a couple of these things, real quick here. One of the neat things that I haven’t yet started working on is that you can set a minimum RSSI, and this is important because the way wireless clients work on your phone or on your computer is that they tend to hang on to the access point.

They’Re connected to even when the signal is weak, so if I’m moving around the house and I’m still picking up the access point, I was connected to initially that happens a lot in homes. You want to get off of that one and get on to a stronger one, and sometimes you get some. You know some bad internet connection or slow speeds when that that weaker signal is the only one that it’s picking up. So what you can do is set a threshold on here so that when the controller or the device recognizes that the signal is getting a little bit weak and it hits that threshold point, it will disconnect the client. The client will then look for the the same SSID and a stronger signal.

It will then roam over to the next one and get yourself up and running that way. So that’s something I’m going to start playing around with a little bit more in the coming weeks. Here because I think that’s a very powerful feature to have what’s interesting, a lot of the Asus routers, the newer ones have this feature also, but it works a lot more smoothly on here. So what I can do here is just click on that set the minimum RSSI and take it from there and there’s a way to kind of monitor what connection speeds you’re getting even from mobile apps, which I’ll show you in a minute or two. Here.

We also have some logs here, so I can even keep track of how often things are roaming around the house. So here’s the last eight hours and it keeps track of everything that’s going on here, so my macbook here roam from the bedroom to the family room and you can see where my iPhone has been doing as I’ve been walking around the house. So it does keep track of everything, and this is really helpful because you’re able to see exactly what your devices are doing and which access points they’re hanging on to and which ones they’re not hanging on to. You can also happen in real time and see. Who is connected to what?

So if I go back over here to the bedroom, one maybe and just see who’s what’s going on here, I can go over to users and I can see that my iPad and my wife’s iPad are connected to the bedroom access point right now. If I go over to the basement one, I don’t think we have any users connected to it at the moment, but if I disconnect my other one which I’ll do in a minute, we can see that I’ll click on the family room, which is the room, I’m Actually, in at the moment, because we’re still waiting for my studio to finish up downstairs, you can see my macbook my phone, my macbook air and my imac are all connected to that access point. This is all real time data. I have it on a two minute. Refresh here, but you can do 15 seconds or just click refresh here, to get an update on everything and we get a good idea of signal strength here as well.

So lots of stuff that you can really dig through and if you’re, into the geeky side of getting wireless network setup. There is a lot to look at on here, and one thing: that’s really cool is that they have a wireless environment. Setting here also – and I did run this earlier – so you can get a feel for exactly what this what this will do. So let me go over to my details here and click on the RF environment and I ran this earlier. So what you can do is actually do an RF scan and what it does is.

It goes out to all of the available wireless channels, and it will give you an idea as to how saturated those channels are, and this is really helpful, especially if you’re in an urban environment, where you have a lot of neighbors with Wi-Fi or a lot of People with cordless phones and other things that are interfering, not only does it look for other wireless networks that are in the area, but also other things using those bands, and it gives you an idea as to how much of the bandwidth is available to you. So you can see here, I’ve got some pretty good signals here in the house because I live out in the middle of nowhere, but my channel 149 is 53 % utilize. I also so I may not want to put things on that 148. Here is completely free and clear, and it also gives me an idea as to some of these other interference types. So this one here, channel 153, is 53 % utilized, but not by Wi-Fi at the moment.

So it is picking up other radio sources that are interfering here and Wi-Fi works over unregulated bands, which means that not only Wi-Fi works on this right on this radio band. But Bluetooth does perhaps your cordless phone. As I mentioned, other devices game controllers, a lot of different things, use these frequencies, and these things are able to kind of go out, take a survey of what’s going on in their immediate environment, and you can then set up which channels they operate on. To get the best possible connection, you can have it also just default to auto, or you can go in and run your wireless RF setting here and get everything set up the way you want it to now. I want to show you what happens when something gets disconnected from the network, so our basement access point that we just set up here on the desk is showing up red, and that is because I disconnected it from my network.

It is no longer connected to the ethernet, although we have power going to it over that Ethernet connection right now. So what we’re going to do now is connect this to another wireless access point in the house, so that we can make it act as a repeater and what I’m going to do for that is go back over to the configuration for the basement up here. Let me just zoom in over here and you’ll, see now that it’s finding on this wireless up, sync uplink, setting two other access points that it can connect to now. The family room, one which is right behind me, is very strong at 99 percent or I can connect to the bedroom, one which is probably not the best one to connect to at the moment, because it’s signal is very weak. So if I select family room here, it’ll take a few minutes for this to get updated here.

But what will eventually happen after it’s done reconfiguring itself. Is that we’ll be able to use this other access point here as a repeater so that we can get onto our network without having the Ethernet network accessible to it? So in many ways it will work like that Iiro? Doesn’T you can set up a mesh network and combine that with clients that are also able to get on your network via the cable the old-fashioned way? So you really do have a lot of flexibility on this system and it’s really not hard to get this working once you kind of figure it all out, there’s also a mobile app for Android and iOS, and we’re on the iOS version right now and it’ll give You an idea as to what’s going on in your network right now, so I’ve got five users connected.

I also can see that one of my access points is currently down, so I can browse over to that and see what’s going on. I can also look at. What’S going on with individual access points here, so I can get all of my details on the family room access point. I can also see who’s connected to it. I can even block users from the iOS or Android app here.

What’S really helpful, though, is it there’s some good statistics available, so you can go in and see exactly what the client signal strength is if you’re trying to figure out what DBM to set it at for when you want it to disconnect, you can kind of look At where your phone is and what kind of signal it’s currently getting and make some determination from that, so you do have a lot of nice. Little features on this app for looking at how your network is performing and the performance on these is pretty good. So right now, I’m connected to this one behind me right here and I’m getting connected at a speed of 867 megabits per second. These are two by two wireless radios, so dual channel Wireless. I did disconnect the one that was on the desk here just so, I didn’t get a lot of interference with it.

So we’re going to do now is a quick speed test here, running iperf and we’ll see what kind of speeds were getting over the network here, so I’m getting about 500 megabits per second or so, as the only client on here at the moment. There’S pretty good speed here, and this is comparable to what I’ve seen on other AC wireless devices, including the ones that have a gazillion antennas hanging off of them. So really the look of a lot of those things. Look like an alien spaceship invader. These things are a little bit more attractive for the home or office and don’t look as obnoxious, but they do perform in a similar fashion and really it’s a fine art trying to get everything positioned properly in the home.

But once you get everything set up, you will see some decent performance, as you just saw there now. One thing they do to help you get everything set up is there’s a mapping function built into here that links up with Google Maps also. So what I’ve done is just kind of projected the map of my home from Google Maps, and I can position these wireless access points on here and then. I can also go over to a coverage map here as well and see exactly where I might have gaps, and this is not an exact science. This is kind of just an overview to give you an idea as to where you might want to fill in some gaps.

So I might want to put one right in the middle here just to get myself some really decent coverage throughout the house, but it does give you some aid to doing that. You can also put in your own maps and set the scale, so you have a drawing of your building or something you can set up the scale on that and position. These things and it’ll give you a good idea as to what your coverage is looking like. So that is the unify, a see, light access point from Ubiquiti Networks, a really nice product, because it does work both as a wired access point, but it can also work in a mesh environment similar to the Eero. Also now the mesh is not ideal on either system, because you will lose a little bit of speed.

It’S because you’re doing that wireless repeating, but it can function that way for a lot less money. So I paid about 86 dollars a piece for these right now. On Amazon, a really good value for what you’re getting and if you do have the ability to bring your Ethernet network over to these things wherever they are placed, you are going to get exceptional performance, really nice wireless roaming as you’re moving around the house, provided you Configure everything the right way and it’s a really easy system to get started with, which is what I really like about it. So you can kind of set it up with the defaults, get everything you know, kind of going and working and then get in there and start messing around with it, because you’ve got all that granular logging. You can really get a good feel for exactly what’s going on in your network, so really cool, stuff, very attractive units.

Also so they’re not going to upset any other members of the family with antennas hanging out all over the place and the performance is really good. At of these two, so I am really quite pleased with this I’m glad so many of you wrote in to tell me about the AC lite version of this, because I didn’t know this was out yet so I was looking earlier probably a couple months ago and Their AC wireless access points were still much more expensive than their Wireless G access points were, but now the prices come down to a point where I could really wreck man. This is probably the best wireless solution out there at the moment. Remember, though, you’re going to need to keep your router. These are wireless access points only, but once you get everything wired in everything will start transferring over these things, wirelessly back and forth to your router with very minimal effort on your part.

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