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Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Lite - Wireless Access Point - 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAPACLITEUS)
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- Dual-radio performance, Gigabit speeds
- Sleek, ultra-compact design
- Designed for optimal RF performance
- Scalable enterprise Wi-Fi management
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The UniFi AC Lite AP features the Wi-Fi 802.11AC technology in a refined industrial design and is ideal for cost-effective deployment of high-performance wireless networks.
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Be advised that you need to be tech savvy to configure Ubiquiti products. They don't have push-button setup and there is no telephone support. Most configuration questions are handled through the community forums. I'm going to tell you right now though that if you don't have some networking background the forums may put you off. It's frequented by folks who install UniFi for a living and they speak in techno-talk. No real hand-holding but rather, practical advice from people who do UniFi every day and speak the lingo of WiFi and RF (Radio Frequency). Having said that, if you are the Power User and learning/researching type you may get along with UniFi quite nicely.
Let's move on and point out the main features of UniFi. UniFi access points are often deployed as part of a "managed WiFi system", i.e. hotspot software (although a UniFi system can be a single access point). UniFi is often used in the hospitality industry where something more than a WiFi password scratched on a piece of paper is required. With UniFi you can set up a customized guest portal, place speed and/or data caps on each client's internet usage, track who is connected to your system, cut off usage hogs, and even charge a fee for access. UniFi even lets you print out uniquely numbered guest vouchers as opposed to handing out a single password for everyone. These features are all optional.
UniFi requires a program called the UniFi "controller". The controller must be run when first setting up the system in order to "adopt" each AP. After that the controller is required to be running 24/7 only if you wish to use the guest portal function. The controller can run on a local computer (PC, MAC, Linux box) or in an Amazon cloud. Ubiquiti has even released a small form factor product called "Cloud Key" that is sort of a hybrid gadget that is plugged into an open Ethernet port, but can be managed from the cloud (however at the time of this writing the Cloud Key firmware is still labeled less than version 1. Caution is advised).
Regarding the various UniFi AP hardware, they come in indoor or outdoor versions, 2.4GHz or 5GHz versions, and there is a model (both indoor and outdoor) that incorporates both 2.4 & 5GHz radios. UniFi devices operate as wireless access points only, meaning they deliver internet to connected client devices such as laptops and smartphones. If you are instead setting up a system to connect to an existing access point, or to make a point-to-point link, you should check out a cousin to the UniFi outdoor models designated as "Rocket" (Ubiquiti ROCKETM2 2.4GHz Hi Power 2x2 MIMO AirMax TDMA BaseStation), which has upgradeable antennas, or the Rocket’s [somewhat] equivalent with a fixed directional antenna, the NanoStation series (Ubiquiti NanoStation locoM2 2.4GHz Indoor/Outdoor airMax 8dBi CPE).
OUTDOOR UNIFI MODELS
UniFi AP Outdoor 2.4GHz (Ubiquiti UniFI AP Outdoor 2x2 MIMO Access Point 802.11bgn).
It's 2.4GHz only, but that will be most compatible with an array of wireless devices. 2x2 MIMO means up to 300Mb/s throughput.
UniFi AP Outdoor 5GHz (Ubiquiti Networks Unifi AP Outdoor 5GHz (UAP-OUTDOOR-5)).
Also 2x2 MIMO. Great in areas densely populated with 2.4GHz signals, but you must insure that all devices wanting to connect have 5GHz capability.
NOTE: Unique to the above models are detachable antennas. The provided omni-directional antennas give these radios good range in all directions. However if you need even more distance, or coverage only in specific areas Ubiquiti has an amazing line of high gain directional antennas designed specifically for these Outdoor APs. For example, I have an installation where the client devices are over 500 ft. from the UniFi Outdoor 2.4GHz AP (it's a motel) and my customer never gets complaints about weak WiFi signals. We are running an airMAX 120 degree Sector Antenna (Ubiquiti Airmax 2.4GHz 15dBi 120 degree Sector Antenna). A well designed antenna like this makes the AP a very good *listener*, allowing it to receive the relatively weak signals generated by most consumer handheld devices. Without a proper antenna the AP can put out all the power in the world, but users won't get a good connection at such distances because their [relatively weak] signal has trouble making it back to the AP. By the way, the Outdoor UniFi AP is designed to fit snugly into the airMAX antenna, providing a clean and attractive installation.
UniFi AP AC Outdoor (Ubiquiti Networks UniFi UAP-AC Outdoor Enterprise WiFi System).
Incorporates both 2.4 and 5GHz radios. Best of both worlds, but cost is substantially higher and the omni antennas are fixed. This "AC" model is 3x3 MIMO with throughput up to 450Mb/s. Fixed antennas.
Indoor UniFi models come in several flavors, but they tend to match the specs of the outdoor models. Most come in an attractive round “smoke detector” form factor with fixed antennas. The best way to see the lineup is to go to the Ubiquiti product page here: ubnt dot com /products/#all/wireless. I tend to skip any versions with “LR” (long range) in the model number. Experience indicates that it is preferable to have a greater number of medium range APs indoors as opposed to a smaller number of high-powered APs. Again, the AP must be able to receive a signal from lower powered client devices.
Finally, when purchasing a UniFi AP be advised that there are two generations of the APs. The second generation have "AC" in the model name and are capable of higher speeds. They AC models have been a bit problematic so be sure to download the latest firmware for the model you purchase.
Hope this helps!
Update 1/9/2018: Spent several hours trying to determine why AP failed due to radios being "disabled". Found out that there is no Ubiquiti phone support and had to rely on Google search but nothing readily apparent that could be done. Reset, re-provisioned, upgraded firmware, etc. to no avail. Suddenly the AP started working again for no apparent reason. Deduct one star.
Update 1/13/2018: The AP has been rock solid. I applied a "rolling update" via the Controller software without issues.
Update 1/22/2018: Adding 1 star back since I've found out the Controller software has a "Chat" support feature, although I've not tried it, should have minimized my installation frustration that I experienced initially. Also I'm becoming aware of the many, many other features this software provides. The device remains working rock solid.
=== The Good Stuff ===
* As mentioned above, from the time it was installed, it has been rock solid. The modem, router and WAP are all on a UPS, so even power outages haven't caused any problems. The one time that Comcast internet was interrupted, a quick power cycle of the router brought the whole network, including this WAP, back online instantly.
* The styling is nice, especially the feature that allows you to turn off the status light. The ceiling mount allows the router to be stashed out of the way, and there are no unsightly antennae cluttering up the room.
* With plain old Comcast internet, the speed through this device was about the same as with a wired connection to the router. (Sorry, lost the scrap of paper I wrote the actual numbers on).
=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===
* There are about 8 ways to mount the bracket into the ceiling and orient the ethernet cable. I tried 7 wrong ways before I got the right one. Its obvious once you do it, but easy enough to screw up. The directions aren't much help-a template would have been great.
* The setup went well- the first time. I tried the WAP out sitting right next to the router. When I moved it to the ceiling, it would take all sorts of reboots and power cycles to finally get the thing to connect up. The supplied software is a bit obscure about what it actually happening, and I cried uncle and tried tech support. The tech support guy took local control of my computer, and promptly wiped out my router configuration. After fighting with that for a hour, I tracked the problem to a flaky cable-which somehow allowed me to execute a DoS attack on my own router. After replacing the cable, all went smooth.
=== Summary ===
If you do everything right, this is a piece of cake to install and configure. If you have problems-well-you will learn something about the IP protocol. Once it is alive, it is rock-solid.
=== Update 5/23/17 ===
The WAP has been up for over 6 months with exactly 0 calls for service. If only every internet high tech thing worked this well.