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#369210 - 03/09/2017 18:41 New house, new wifi - so many choices
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
So all going well we'll be buying a new house next year. As it is new construction I have the opportunity to add additional ethernet drops - but the question is where to put the?

I've more or less settled on the Ubiquiti Unifi products - lots of good mentions here, and the review of Best Wi-Fi Mesh included "a several-years-old pair of the original wireless-n Ubiquiti UAPs" which tested very well. So I figure going with them now will provide me many years of good wifi.

Looking at the UniFi product range I'm getting overwhelmed with the choices. Granted I could probably just slap three UniFi AC Pro anywhere in the house, but I suspect that is overkill, $50 more per unit Vs Lite, plus it might not pass WAF (can't just slap them on the ceiling in the middle of the living room). So proper, discrete placement, plus their In Wall all play a roll here, I just don't know where to start (and stop).

One last thing, our site layout differs from the what is shown in the first link - the front of our garage will be roughly in-line with the rear of the house, and face forward not backwards. There is also a full height, insulated, but un-finished basement. Wifi coverage would need to extend into (possible ethernet drop?) the garage (future Tesla?) and the backyard. At some point we'd use the basement, but adding anything down there is easy due to the exposed ceiling.

Thoughts on where ethernet drop should go, and what units to use? Thx

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#369211 - 03/09/2017 21:10 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 676
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I shall comment on the height of the installed WiFi units. My experience is that the optimal distance from the floor is just over head height when standing. Say about 6.5 feet above the floor.

At this altitude there is generally very little furniture, people mass, etc so the signal tends to propagate well across rooms and through doorways. A surprising amount of WiFi signal strength tends to reach through the open doors, open room spaces and hallways. When signal has to travel right through solid walls and floors, it easily weakens.

WiFi signals do not travel well through multiple layers of structural materials, and especially poorly at shallow angles (where the signal is travelling through the length of the wall). Locate the WiFi modules so most of the portable device use locations have reasonable to minimal layers of building material to penetrate.

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#369212 - 03/09/2017 21:19 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 676
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Looking at the floor plans, I am unsure where the garage would be.

Inside the house, one WiFi access point on a high shelf in the 'optional built in pantry' would provide decent coverage for the main floor.

Another WiFi access point on a high shelf in the closet for bedroom 3 would cover that floor. Master bath and laundry would have the weakest signal (relatively speaking) which seems ok to me.

For the basement I would suggest a third access point. There tends to be a lot of structure in the main floor and basement below, and metal ducting between the floors.

If WiFi penetration into the garage is marginal, mount a WiFI repeater up fairly high inside the corner nearest the house. That should provide a decent link speed back to the house and flood the garage with solid WiFi;


Edited by K447 (03/09/2017 21:22)

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#369215 - 04/09/2017 02:27 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13884
Loc: Canada
How close are the neighbours?
This matters for wifi.

Our neighbours are hundreds of feet away, so even the most basic wifi-G AP will cover the entire house (and most of the property) at low power. In our previous home, two neighbours were within 20', and a dozen were within a couple hundred feet. So multiple APs were needed to cover just the inside of the home.

That said, our current single AP is a bit more modern than wifi-G. smile

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#369217 - 04/09/2017 04:02 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3717
If your goal is to maximize your signal quality and minimize WAF issues, it's hard to beat those in-wall-jack things. Very discrete. Plus, you can just wire up a bunch of outlets as vanilla outlets. Convert later on to APs as necessary.

Note 1: make sure you've got a decent numbering convention for outlets, so you can look at an outlet, scribble down the number, and find the corresponding plug back in your wiring closet, without losing your mind.

Note 2: make sure you punch down and test each and every wire. The sheetrock installers will inevitably damage one or more wires.

Per K447's suggestion, you could also run wires to junction boxes placed discretely up on the wall. This yields APs that are a bit more noticeable, but not any worse than a security system's motion detectors or so many other gadgets that have slowly crept into our lives. Although, for all we know, they aim the antennae upward, so they really want to be installed closer to the floor.

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#369218 - 04/09/2017 04:09 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: K447]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
So from your first reply, I'm going to read it to mean that I should not use their InWall units except as supplemental units in some locations - as they will most likely be stuck behind some hefty piece of furniture due to being ~16" off the ground.

Let me explain where the garage would be - exactly where you'd expect it to be on a normal house on a normal lot. The sample lot in the link has it facing a lane behind the house. But your suggestion of a repeater in the nearest corner of the house is valid.

Thx

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#369219 - 04/09/2017 04:12 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3717
I had a chat with one of our campus IT guys about this at one point. We're a Cisco shop, so lots of big APs mounted on ceilings, but they were looking at rolling out these more discrete in-wall things. Apparently the whole idea is that they have less range, so you can put more of them out and have less contention for limited spectrum.

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#369220 - 04/09/2017 04:16 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: mlord]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
Close. Our lot is ~8,000 sq feet, so yes I am expecting interference from poorly configured Comcast home router/wifi.

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#369221 - 04/09/2017 04:19 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: DWallach]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
Thanks Dan, some good thoughts there. I think I saw a propagation map at some point, I'll have to find it again.

edit
propagation map, but it is after midnight and I'm in not fit state to try and understand one. Something for the morning.


Edited by Phoenix42 (04/09/2017 04:33)

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#369222 - 04/09/2017 05:04 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 676
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Phoenix42
So from your first reply, I'm going to read it to mean that I should not use their InWall units except as supplemental units in some locations - as they will most likely be stuck behind some hefty piece of furniture due to being ~16" off the ground.

Let me explain where the garage would be - exactly where you'd expect it to be on a normal house on a normal lot. The sample lot in the link has it facing a lane behind the house. But your suggestion of a repeater in the nearest corner of the house is valid.

Thx
My suggestion was to install the WiFi access points INSIDE the closets, main floor and upstairs. I would put a small shelf in the corner above the door into the closet, so it is away from the staircase wall and not visible when someone opens the closet and looks in. Put it on a high shelf. Have an electrical outlet wired nearby, maybe in the ceiling.

Closets tend to have minimal wall density so the signal should be able to penetrate out from the closet.

And since you don't have to worry much about what it looks like (since it will be inside the closet), you can install good units, even if they are a tad large/ugly.

For the garage, the WiFi repeater (if needed) could be in the garage, in a high corner nearest the house WiFi source.

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#369227 - 04/09/2017 13:02 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: K447]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
Thx for the clarification K447

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#369230 - 04/09/2017 14:49 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
jmwking
addict

Registered: 27/02/2003
Posts: 683
Loc: Washington, DC metro
I did this in my house when we added a second floor several years ago (not a huge house - about 25' deep x 40' wide with a full basement under). This was before the consumer integrated systems were out, and I've felt no need to upgrade. We have a fairly tight suburban neighborhood; I can see 15 other APs (a few poorly configured at the moment, alas).

I hardwired a couple closets with Cat 6, both situated about halfway between the front and back of the house. I put a PoE AP in each, both running 2.4 and 5 GHz simultaneously, all on the same SSID - so four channels total. One is on the first floor at one end of the house, with the AP mounted high on the wall facing inward. The other is on the second floor (about 13' from the other end-wall) with the AP on the ceiling. I've found nothing close to dead spots, and my teens and their friends comment on how much better our wifi is...

The only thing we don't have is seamless handoff when streaming video on portables. Haven't really missed it, though; I tend to pause streaming when I'm walking around.

-jk

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#369234 - 04/09/2017 16:35 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: jmwking]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 676
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: jmwking
... I put a PoE AP in each, both running 2.4 and 5 GHz simultaneously, all on the same SSID - so four channels total. ...
I set the SSID for the 5Ghz different from 2.4Ghz.

5Ghz tends to work best in the same room as the Access Point, and 'the next room', not so well farther away with multiple walls in the signal path. So I configure the nearby and non-moving WiFi devices to the 5Ghz SSID. Apple TV, audio streaming box, that sort of thing.

This leaves the 2.4Ghz band and SSID available for the more mobile devices, and since 2.4Ghz penetrates structure more deeply than 5Ghz, the mobile devices get good signal everywhere.

Agree with running CAT6 cables to the equipment closet locations. Run more than one to each location. Cables do go bad sometimes, sometimes well after installation.

Also run cables to places where you expect connected gear to stay, such as TV, office desks, etc. I try to use wired connections whenever possible, thereby leaving maximum bandwidth available for the devices that must use WiFi.

A good wired connection provides the best reliability. WiFi can be quite good, but sometimes the solid connection using wired Ethernet is worth the hassle of installing it.

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#369244 - 05/09/2017 02:04 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
jmwking
addict

Registered: 27/02/2003
Posts: 683
Loc: Washington, DC metro
I get solid 5 GHz throughout the house on my laptop (albeit set to prefer that band). I also ran dedicated wiring to the AV center (we only have the one) and to the extra bedroom if it might be an office in the future (our main office is also the hub in the basement).

Works for us...

-jk

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#369251 - 05/09/2017 15:18 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: K447]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3717
Originally Posted By: K447
I set the SSID for the 5Ghz different from 2.4Ghz

Google WiFi does everything on a single SSID and it's completely seamless. I never worry about one vs. the other and all our devices magically switch to whichever frequency is appropriate. I suspect there's some active management going on in the APs to make this work.

Quote:
Agree with running CAT6 cables to the equipment closet locations. Run more than one to each location. Cables do go bad sometimes, sometimes well after installation.

I endorse running extra wires to each location. Better to have wires in place that you don't need than to eventually discover a need for wires that you don't have. To that end, there are a number of cable products that carry multiple Ethernet and RG-6 cable TV wires in a single bundle (example bulk cable from Amazon). If I was running wires from scratch, this is what I'd use.

I don't think it particularly matters whether you're using Cat5e, Cat6, or newer. Cat5e is all you need to run gigabit Ethernet, and supposedly the higher-rated cables are very much more particular in terms of minimum bend radius and such.

Quote:
A good wired connection provides the best reliability. WiFi can be quite good, but sometimes the solid connection using wired Ethernet is worth the hassle of installing it.

Without any doubt, a wired "backhaul" network for your APs is the preferable solution whenever possible.

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#369252 - 06/09/2017 18:08 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
I went ahead and ordered one of the Lite units, at $77 it is $52 cheaper the then the Pro. I'll play with it in out current condo, which is a very wifi-noise environment. If it does good there it will be fine in the new house.

I do plan on adding plenty of ethernet drops, and will ask about them using single bundle. Well as many drop as the budget will allow, I know, now is the time to do it. Maybe I can get them to run the cable and skip the labor intensive termination.

Expect a few more questions from me about as I go through this house building process. Although given that it is a development our choices are limited.

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#369253 - 06/09/2017 18:25 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
larry818
old hand

Registered: 01/10/2002
Posts: 989
Loc: Fullerton, Calif.
I'd run rigid conduits so I can pull any kind of cable later on. In ten years, you'll be wanting the cat "quantum leap" (where data arrives before it's sent), and you'll be stuck with cat 6.

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#369254 - 06/09/2017 19:10 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
I can't run conduits to every drop location, right? Do I just run it from basement to attic to make future drops easier?

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#369255 - 06/09/2017 22:07 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13884
Loc: Canada
If I had a two-story home, I would run fat conduit from basement to attic, as well as Cat5e to every room. And I would NEVER drywall the basement ceilings -- use modern decorative drop ceiling panels down there instead.

Our present house, designed by us and new 2.5 years ago, is single-story with walk-out basement. Multiple Cat5e drops to every room, and drop ceilings in those lower level rooms which actually have finished ceilings. Full access to adjust things in the future.

Cheers

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#369256 - 07/09/2017 00:51 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
larry818
old hand

Registered: 01/10/2002
Posts: 989
Loc: Fullerton, Calif.
You can run all conduits. My 1947 house was done with all 1/2" metal conduits originally, except for the phone which was done with what looks like oil soaked cloth covered romex.

The conduits I've added are all 1" PVC, but I have a convenient crawl space to run them in. Those conduits used to have coax in them, now have cat 5.

Probably 1/2" conduits are big enough and easier to route.

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#369257 - 07/09/2017 07:06 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: larry818]
andy
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5758
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
I wish there was a sane way of running any cables in our house 😢

I think when I finally hardwire the two ends of the house together it will via fibre round the outside of the house.
_________________________
Remind me to change my signature to something more interesting someday

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#369258 - 07/09/2017 09:41 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
sn00p
addict

Registered: 24/07/2002
Posts: 600
Loc: South London
I use unifi stuff at home and it works pretty well for me.

I actually have the AP attached to the inside of a IKEA cabinet in the lounge and it works pretty well all over our house.



If I could get a gigabit cable upstairs I would (My virginmedia broadband is 400Mbit) I would and I'd stick another AP in the ceiling of our bedroom. The unifi AP's look quite neat (wife friendly) and are PoE, but getting a cable upstairs means fishing for cables in wall cavities.


Edited by sn00p (07/09/2017 09:42)

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#369260 - 07/09/2017 17:15 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: sn00p]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5383
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
Originally Posted By: sn00p
...getting a cable upstairs means fishing for cables in wall cavities.
This idea may not be applicable in your case, but just in case...

A friend was replacing the rear derailleur cable in his bicycle, which ran through the chain stay. Once the old cable was removed, there was no way to thread the new cable. It wouldn't find the hole to exit the chain stay. So, he took a spool of thread, fed a couple feet into the "input" hole of the chain stay, then used a vacuum cleaner to suck the end of the thread out of the exit hole. After that it was easy, connect the thread to a string, connect the string to the cable, and pull the cable through.

Is it possible this technique could work for you?

tanstaafl.
_________________________
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#369261 - 07/09/2017 18:06 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
The UniFi Lite I ordered arrived yesterday, and in good geek fashion everything else was ignored so I could play with it - well once the kids got put to bed.

Physically the unit is very light - this will make for easy temporary installing with 3M OnCommand strips, and smaller then I expected. The Lite unit really is smoke alarm sized, and more discrete (once the blue light is disabled) then I expected, which will help with WAF and therefore placement options. This is a big win for me.

Configuration is very different from a traditional WAP or home router, but nothing a regular nerd shouldn't be able to handle. If you remember that you are configuring a system, and not an individual device, it goes a long way. I expect that adding a future AP will be even easier as it will inherit a lot of the existing config. At this stage I know I've not even scratched the surface of what the software can do, and I suspect that is the case for most home users of this product.

Performance wise the Lite's signal was marginally stronger on 2.4ghz then my existing Asus N66 when using inSSIDer* on a desktop two floors up. Unifi does report that the 2.4ghz band is ~50% utilized in my neighborhood, but that 5ghz is barely touched. Checking the devices in my house many of them are 5ghz capable (phones, chromebooks, work laptop), those that are not include the kids Kindles (sorry kids), Roku (within line of site of the router), Raspberry Pi (it's fine on 2.4) and the above mention desktop ($20 to replace the mini PCI express card to add AC and BlueTooth).

All in all a valuable exercise, and well worth the $77 investment for the piece of mind of knowing what I'll need to do to get solid wifi in our new home.

Thanks everyone!

* Agh! inSSIDer has gone away, or at least their free Home version. You can still grab version 3 of the Home version from some download sites, though it lacks AC support.

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#369265 - 07/09/2017 19:28 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 676
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
On Mac I use WiFi Explorer.

Even on the Standard version I find the Channels view to be highly useful. Seeing what other WiFi sources are conflicting with the channels being used by my own gear really clarifies what channels I need to NOT be using.



I can carry my MacBook around like a Geiger counter and sniff out which sides of the house (and which neighbours) are squatting across precious bandwidth. In some cases I offer to adjust their own WiFi gear to better channel selections (for both of us) and turn off 2.4Ghz wide channel modes.

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#369266 - 07/09/2017 19:29 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: tanstaafl.]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13884
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: tanstaafl.
..used a vacuum cleaner to suck the end of the thread out of the exit hole


That's a pretty standard technique for fishing wires through conduit. We used it here to suck a pull string through the 130' of 3/4" plastic pipe used for the street-to-home cable internet conduit. I have my doubts about it working in a larger space like a stud wall cavity though.

Cheers

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#369267 - 07/09/2017 19:31 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: K447]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13884
Loc: Canada
Wifi Analyzer on a smart phone is a somewhat more portable solution for that!

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#369269 - 07/09/2017 20:03 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: K447]
jmwking
addict

Registered: 27/02/2003
Posts: 683
Loc: Washington, DC metro
Originally Posted By: K447
On Mac I use WiFi Explorer.

Even on the Standard version I find the Channels view to be highly useful. Seeing what other WiFi sources are conflicting with the channels being used by my own gear really clarifies what channels I need to NOT be using.



I can carry my MacBook around like a Geiger counter and sniff out which sides of the house (and which neighbours) are squatting across precious bandwidth. In some cases I offer to adjust their own WiFi gear to better channel selections (for both of us) and turn off 2.4Ghz wide channel modes.


After my own heart! My next door (really close by) still resists my efforts to clean his signals up...

-jk

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#369270 - 07/09/2017 20:06 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: mlord]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 676
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: mlord
Wifi Analyzer on a smart phone is a somewhat more portable solution for that!
Android only, that app.

I have iPhone, which requires extra third party hardware to do similar analysis.

So I use MacBook, which is not as portable but I have it on hand. I don't do this sort of WiFi sleuthing all that often, mainly when something changes or I suspect a new rogue WiFi presence.

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#369271 - 07/09/2017 20:21 Re: New house, new wifi - so many choices [Re: Phoenix42]
sn00p
addict

Registered: 24/07/2002
Posts: 600
Loc: South London
Originally Posted By: Phoenix42
The UniFi Lite I ordered arrived yesterday, and in good geek fashion everything else was ignored so I could play with it - well once the kids got put to bed.

Physically the unit is very light - this will make for easy temporary installing with 3M OnCommand strips, and smaller then I expected. The Lite unit really is smoke alarm sized, and more discrete (once the blue light is disabled) then I expected, which will help with WAF and therefore placement options. This is a big win for me.

Configuration is very different from a traditional WAP or home router, but nothing a regular nerd shouldn't be able to handle. If you remember that you are configuring a system, and not an individual device, it goes a long way. I expect that adding a future AP will be even easier as it will inherit a lot of the existing config. At this stage I know I've not even scratched the surface of what the software can do, and I suspect that is the case for most home users of this product.

Performance wise the Lite's signal was marginally stronger on 2.4ghz then my existing Asus N66 when using inSSIDer* on a desktop two floors up. Unifi does report that the 2.4ghz band is ~50% utilized in my neighborhood, but that 5ghz is barely touched. Checking the devices in my house many of them are 5ghz capable (phones, chromebooks, work laptop), those that are not include the kids Kindles (sorry kids), Roku (within line of site of the router), Raspberry Pi (it's fine on 2.4) and the above mention desktop ($20 to replace the mini PCI express card to add AC and BlueTooth).

All in all a valuable exercise, and well worth the $77 investment for the piece of mind of knowing what I'll need to do to get solid wifi in our new home.

Thanks everyone!

* Agh! inSSIDer has gone away, or at least their free Home version. You can still grab version 3 of the Home version from some download sites, though it lacks AC support.


I really love the "system" configuration in unifi, I have a docker container running on my NAS which runs the controller. I love the guest portal as well, I run an open SSID with the portal enabled and can just generate a voucher code for any guests that want access to the net, means they never need to know the password and it automatically expires.

Some stuff like DNS hostnames isn't in the current version of the gui, but you can create a file and when you provision a device it merges in your configured file so that my hostnames are resolved as well. One of the current test releases exposes a gui for this.

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