2

Summarize the problem

I need help with access point placement to improve the Wi-Fi in my home. I have a UniFi UDM Pro and a couple nanoHD access points, and need to purchase a Flex HD access point. I've created a couple placement options using a floor plan and the UniFi Design Center.

Provide details and any research

  • Three story home (finished basement, main, and upstairs) built in 1986
  • 2,378 finished square feet
  • Drywall ceilings, eight feet high
  • Drywall interior walls, brick exterior walls
  • Hardwood floors
  • Around 24 WiFi clients from a family of four
  • WiFi clients include iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, HomePod, Nintendo Switch, Ecobee thermostat, and Wemo smart plug devices
  • I hardwire everything I can but we do use WiFi in the basement and every room on the main and upstairs floors
  • I don't currently need WiFi in the garage, just the basement
  • I have a UDM Pro, Switch Lite 8 PoE, and gigabit cable modem in the basement HVAC closet
  • I have two nanoHDs and ordered a Flex HD that is arriving Monday
  • I can run Ethernet from the UDM Pro to anywhere in the basement to place or wall mount a Flex HD
  • I can run Ethernet from the UDM Pro to anywhere on the main floor, except the living room and dining room, to place or wall mount a Flex HD
  • I can run Ethernet from the UDM Pro to anywhere on the upstairs floor to ceiling mount one or two nanoHDs (I have attic access)
  • The UniFi Design Center screen shots show 5GHz coverage

When appropriate, describe what you’ve tried

I've tried creating a couple options using a floorplan and the UniFi Design Center:

Option A (one access point on each floor)

nanoHD ceiling mounted in basement Basement: nanoHD ceiling mounted in basement (UDM Pro in HVAC closet)

Main: Flex HD wall mounted in the kitchen Main: Flex HD wall mounted in kitchen

Upstairs: nanoHD ceiling mounted in hallway Upstairs: nanoHD ceiling mounted in hallway

Option B (Flex HD in basement and two ceiling mounted nanoHDs upstairs)

nanoHD ceiling mounted in basement Basement: nanoHD ceiling mounted in basement (UDM Pro in HVAC closet)

Main: No access points (hoping that the two upstairs nanoHDs will provide enough coverage to the main floor) Main: No access points (hoping that the two upstairs nanoHDs will provide enough coverage to the main floor)

Upstairs: Two nanoHDs ceiling mounted in master bedroom and guest room Upstairs: Two nanoHDs ceiling mounted in master bedroom and guest room

RSSI signal strength tests

I ran a couple of RSSI signal strength tests. The first test had the nanoHD temporarily mounted on the ceiling north of the guest room and the bottom right bedroom - the basement nanoHD was disconnected. The second test put the nanoHD on my TV media bench (I know this should be ceiling mounted, this is a temporary location), the upstairs nanoHD was disconnected.

Option A: nanoHD in upstairs hallway, Flex HD in kitchen, nanoHD in basement

  • -46 Office
  • -58 Basement
  • -50 Kitchen
  • -46 Study
  • -59 Living room
  • -65 Master bedroom
  • -62 Bottom left bedroom
  • -67 Guest room
  • -63 Bottom right bedroom

nanoHD ceiling mounted upstairs in hallway by guest room

  • -77 Office
  • -86 Basement
  • -55 Kitchen
  • -63 Study
  • -70 Living room
  • -58 Master bedroom
  • -54 Bottom left bedroom
  • -51 Guest room
  • -59 Bottom right bedroom

nanoHD in basement on media bench

  • -69 Office
  • -43 Basement
  • -71 Kitchen
  • -75 Study
  • -63 Living room
  • -62 Master bedroom
  • -80 Bottom left bedroom
  • -78 Guest room
  • -85 Bottom right bedroom

iPerf3

I ran three iPerf3 tests with each respective AP connected with the other two disconnected. This is the sender transfer (MBytes)/bandwidth (Mbits/sec):

Basement AP only

  • 461/386 Office
  • 695/583 Basement
  • 316/265 Kitchen
  • 165/139 Study
  • 516/433 Living room
  • 311/261 Master bedroom
  • 46/44 Guest room

Kitchen AP only

  • 27/23 Office
  • 76/64 Basement
  • 502/421 Kitchen
  • 504/422 Study
  • 294/246 Living room
  • 38/32 Master bedroom
  • 82/69 Guest room

Upstairs hallway AP only

  • Operation timed out Office
  • 22/18 Basement
  • 522/438 Kitchen
  • 276/231 Study
  • 204/171 Living room
  • 456/382 Master bedroom
  • 315/264 Guest room

Questions

Do you have a recommendation on whether I should:

  1. Ceiling mount both nanoHDs in the upstairs (one by the master bedroom and the other by the guest room) and put a Flex HD in the basement, or...
  2. Ceiling mount one nanoHD in the center of the upstairs, put a Flex HD in the center of the main floor, and ceiling mount the other nanoHD in the basement, or...
  3. Something else I'm not thinking of

I appreciate your input. Thanks in advance.

3
  • We need to know where the clients are in order to see if the APs are distributed correctly. Links to the specs of each device would help as well, I don't thing anyone wants to google them. Will you be using Wi-Fi-6 (802.11ax)? – Albin Oct 20 '20 at 15:47
  • I would make sure there is as little wall as possible between client and AP. With "no wall" you'll be able to use 5Ghz, "with wall" probable only 2.4Ghz. – Albin Oct 20 '20 at 15:49
  • @Tim_Stewart in general you are right but I found that this often depends on the actual material of the wall and on how much/many wall/s are between AP and client. Still a good point to be aware of. – Albin Oct 20 '20 at 16:25
1
+50

I would personally recommend installing one on each floor. (Option-A)
Or from the questions at the bottom, #2.

The reason is that the antennas in these are omni-directional. Horizontal from the access points will be decent, but will probably be a little spotty in areas that are vertical to them. (Antenna polarization). Especially for the 5Ghz band which doesn't penetrate floors and objects as well. Explicit Beamforming helps with object penetration, but it's unclear in the product description page whether or not these access points utilize it, and devices need to natively support it! I am assuming the access points do as they are listed as 802.11ac wave-2 devices.

Each 2.4Ghz radio should be on 20Mhz wide channels, 1, 6, & 11 respectively.

The 5Ghz 802.11 radios can be on 80Mhz wide non-conflicting channels. Don't go with 160Mhz wide channels, as there are only two non-conflicting channels in this mode on the 5.8Ghz band.

Each one should should be setup in AP-mode, but I think your UDM will do this for you.

You should be able to set all these up with the same SSID for each band, same security settings, so they can seamlessly roam without a expensive controller installed on the network. EDIT: never mind, it looks like you have that covered with the Switch/UTM/Gateway appliance!

If I have missed anything from your question, just shoot me a message. I would be happy to update it.

4
  • Thanks Tim, this is really helpful. I just setup the access points following option A and ran another test. I added the new test under the "RSSI signal strength tests". The result is that the kitchen & study signal was greatly improved by the access point in the kitchen, but moving the upstairs access point to the center of the floor lowered all the bedroom signals to -62 or worse RSSI. Based on this latest test, do you think I should combine options A and B so that I have two access points upstairs and an access point in the kitchen? Just want to make sure I'm not overdoing it. Thanks again. – Ryan Oct 23 '20 at 19:56
  • Thanks so much Tim. I just ran three iPerf3 tests and added the results to a new "iPerf3" section above the "Questions" section. Based on these results, do you think the current AP placement will work? Happy to run additional tests. Thanks again. – Ryan Oct 23 '20 at 21:42
  • 1
    Awesome - thank you! I have Comcast gigabit and can usually get around 940 Mbps down and 40 Mbps up wired via Speedtest. – Ryan Oct 23 '20 at 23:00
  • 1
    Thanks Tim. My Comcast upload has always been awful, everywhere I've lived, even when it's just my PC hardwired into the cable modem. I'll look into smart queues. Thanks again for your help - I really appreciate it. – Ryan Oct 24 '20 at 2:35

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