Unifi as a simple access point

  • So I have recently (last week) set up PFSense on an HP T730 and loving it. I'm now working through rebuilding my home network, with a view to a clear isolation of IOT devices and private machines.

    Initially, I have just implemented PFSense between my modem an an ASUS Wifi Router, with the latter just bridging (no router / DHCP) and all existing devices off that, for now. In short, PFSense is the "master".

    Now I plan to introduce another access point and move my private devices over to that, on a separate interface. Having downsized last year, I have a relatively small home (2.700 square feet) so don't need anything fancy, in terms of coverage. It's crossed my mind to just get a pretty cheap access point and be done with this.

    But I a) love building / extending / improving things over time and b) geeking out a bit! So I am OK spending a little extra on this access point, if there's a specific value in doing so.

    I have seen many positive comments about Unifi and I am considering an UAP-AC-Pro. But I'm not sure if there are any real benefits to this, beyond the functionality of the access point, that a cheap access point can provide.

    Has anyone installed a Unifi access point, with PFSense, seen benefits they value beyond just acting as an access point?

  • The primary benefit of UniFi, is that the controller centrally manages the configuration so you can quickly change settings on a dozen APs. With a single AP, it does give you some nice statistics and such if you have the controller running continuously.

  • Here running pfSense with UAP-AC-HD as accesspoint. Running great! Plays well with multiple vlans (if needed) and nice statistics. Coverage and speed of Unifi is very good (great value for money).
    Its possible to run the controller software on your pfSense box. (Security wise maybe not advisable)

  • Thank you for the response. Yes, that was pretty much my understanding, namely that the product range offers some benefits that are targeted at those with a good number of devices and therefore less relevant to me.

    That said, I don't mind spending a few extra dollars if there are some extra features I might enjoy (the Pro is only about $140, I believe. so not a huge amount). So I guess I'm interested in the features, if any, that are not focused on multi-device management. The overlap with PFSense, for example, in "reporting", is one example I'd like to learn more about.

    Thank you again.

  • @Rai80 Thank you. I learned a couple of days ago that I can run the Unifi Controller software on PFsense but, for the reason you mentioned, I don't have any interest in that.

    I believe another option are to install a Cloud Key (which just seems too expensive for my simple needs). But I also understand I can install the software on a Raspberry Pi and, with some other potential opportunities I might accrue with that (along with the geek factor), I am considering a Raspberry Pi 4, with 4GB RAM. Who knows... :)

    By the way, am I correct in saying that the controller software is required to expose/run some features, but is not necessary to operate the basic access point functionality?

    Thank you again.

  • @Rai80 Quick additional question.

    I guess another option I have is to REPLACE my existing ASUS Wifi Router with an UAP-AC-Pro and use VLANs to separate the IOT and private devices, instead of installing it alongside the ASUS router.

    Do I have that correct? If so, the VLANs are added/configured on PFSense and the Unifi device just supports them, yes?

    Are there are major benefits/drawbacks (beyond single-point-of-failure) over using VLANs as described above, compared to having two physical access points?

  • @markwill Correct. You need the controller for initial setup and for changes. Once its running you don't need it.
    If you want to record statistics you will need a permanent connection with the controller.

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