What to do When Your Old House is a WiFi Black Hole

At times my passion for tech and my house are at odds. The latest struggle is for solid Wi-Fi connectivity anywhere in the house. This has become very important as I’ve had to work from home due to a knee injury. Working from home is great and all, but I really did not want to attend video conference calls from my bed and my office is in, well to put it mildly, a bit of a shambles. It’s full of car parts and projects!

As I searched the house for a professional backdrop, I found that my wireless connectivity was severely limited by the 3 1954 bathrooms, hereto referred to as the bunkers. The walls and floors are all tile and laid in a 2-3-inch bed of cement backed by what looks like chicken wire. These bathrooms almost completely blocked my AP’s Wi-Fi signal even when extremely close.

OK, so what’s the solution? Enter Ubiquity, I’ve had several friends do both personal and professional installs and they all raved about Ubiquity products. And I will too. I knew that due to the building materials in my house 1 or even 2 expensive APs would not provide adequate coverage. So, I ended up deploying 1 ceiling mounted “main” AP in the den and then wall mount APs in each room where I needed fast connectivity.

One word of caution, I would consider Ubiquity at the upper end of a non-IT techie skillset. There is some setup and fine tuning that needs to be done, which for the most part could be said of any Wi-Fi, but there is a key step that is unique to Ubiquity. Ubiquity gear requires a “controller” which is software that needs to be run to monitor and configure your devices. Some features require that this software be run full time so take that in to consideration. I chose to run the UniFi software on a dedicated VM. The resource requirements are very low, I used a basic 1 core, 4GB RAM, Windows 2012 R2 VM. One last item to mention, these devices are PoE (power over ethernet) so they receive their power over the same ethernet cable that connects them to the network. The UniFi AP-AC-Pro (ceiling mount AP) comes with a PoE injector so you can use it with any ethernet switch, however the UniFi AP-AC-In Wall AP does not. Luckily, I have a PoE network switch so all good. I told you this was pretty high on the tech scale! But I will say the end result is worth it! Solid gear, ridiculously easy setup and superb connectivity.

Setup consisted of placing the APs where I thought they would do best (I.E. get around the bunkers) and ensuring I had an appropriate network drop for both power and 1Gbps connectivity from the switch. I chose not to use  mesh setup and instead wire each AP, I mean I needed the patch cable for power anyway. After the 1st unit was connected and powered up it was as simple as firing up the UniFi software and scanning for devices on the network.

The UniFi software immediately found the “main” AP (UniFi AP-AC-Pro) which I setup first. I then shutdown my old AP, moved over the wireless SSID, and checked for firmware updates. Super easy. From there I plugged in and powered up the other two APs and “adopted” them to use Ubiquity’s term. This brings the APs in and downloads all settings. BAM, done!

Here is my coverage heat map, note: the AP with the asterisk is for the garage. That one is not installed yet. The other three are what I have now and are punching their way through the bunkers just fine. Your results may vary drastically if you have a newer home so it’s possible you’ll need fewer APs. I also guarantee you will need to test placement.


Here is a screenshot of my iPhone’s coverage in the master Bedroom. Throughout the house I would say on average it is 80-100Mbs. Previously it ranged from 7-8 Mbps to 20 Mbps.


The wall mount APs are interesting, here are a few photos.

The box!


Mounting accessories


Wall mount AP with cover (note: you can turn the LED off in software)

Wall mount AP no cover


AP by itself


At the time of this writing my laptop ate my UniFi AP-AC-Pro , pictures. Updates to follow!

To recap parts used:

1x UniFi AP-AC-Pro “main” AP, when I get to it I will add another one to the garage area for total coverage

2x UniFi AP-AC-In Wall AP love these as I had existing network drops

1x Netgear PoE 24 port switch. Originally for PoE cameras, but used for Ubiquity devices as well.