Ubiquiti Home Network Setup


I have an above average ADSL 2 broadband connection at home and am due to get a faster HFC based connection later in the year as part of Australias NBN. This has been delayed a few times now and in the mean time I had been using the Telstra Gateway Frontier modem supplied by my ISP. This modem was attractive to me because it included 4G failover without requiring any tinkering or nerdy setup on my behalf and it consumed my normal internet quota when it failed over. In real world situations it sometimes failed to failover (major issue!) and i more recently embarked on a home automation project which added a bunch of chatty IoT devices to my home wireless network. Things sometimes stuttered and the router occasionally needed to be rebooted. Not acceptable for a $300 device. I began looking for alternatives.

Introducing Ubiquiti

While I had heard of Ubiquiti before at work I had never been exposed to it personally. It is more of a business oriented set of networking products and commands a great reputation among the people who have told me about it. I know plenty of seasoned Cisco and Aruba technicians who have praised Ubiquiti products for being excellent value in terms of functionality and performance. I began looking at what I would do with their gear if I wanted to replace the unreliable ISP supplied kit described above.

The setup I chose

I wanted a complete solution and to take advantage of the dashboards and deep packet inspection features available with the USG and managed switch. You technically could just buy the AP and hook that up to your modem if you don’t care about all the other features and continual data logging but where is the fun in that!

  • Basic ADSL2+ Modem only device that I had in my cupboard (a TPLINK model)
  • Unifi Security Gateway (Firewall/Router)
  • 8-POE-60W Switch
  • UAP-AC-Pro Wireless Access Point
  • AWS Based Unifi Controller

I haven’t got a failover solution to 4G anymore but I understand you can connect a Dovado Tiny to the LAN2 port on the USG to achieve this.

Other networked devices at home:

  • Netgear Arlo Cameras
  • Belkin WeMo Switches
  • TPLink Smart Plug
  • Google Home Mini
  • Apple TV
  • Sensibo Sky AC Controller
  • Synology DS216Play
  • UPS
  • Chromecasts

I have documented my setup experience below but not the step by step on how to do it. I found plenty of information online. There are a few gotchas that I encountered though which I have explained below.

Step 1: Setting up the Unifi Controller in AWS

This procedure is well documented here. If my Synology NAS supported Docker I would have just put the controller on that.

I chose to take this approach rather than buying a cloud key locally because it will stay up even if my home network goes down and allows me some flexibility if I want to setup a similar system at my parents house.

It also is free for 12 months so I can defer a decision on spending $120 on a physical cloud key until then. I also like AWS. You probably want to ensure you can get a static IP from your ISP if going this route so that you can lock down the inbound port rules to your IP but it is not essential.


Step 2: Put the ADSL modem into bridge mode

This allows the USG to control the internet connection via PPPoE in my case.

Step 3: Physically connect everything up

I have the USG connected to the LAN port on my ADSL modem, the LAN1 port from the USG connected to port one on the new switch and the UAP-AC-Pro connected to the first PoE port on the switch.

Modem – USG – Switch – Wireless AP is the basic layout.

The AP gets its power from the switch which is awesome. I have mounted the AP on the ceiling in the middle of my house.

Step 4: Adopt the Unify devices into your AWS Controller
Adoption involves this guide if you are using the cloud based controller.

The first thing I did was request a new IP from the Unifi Security Gateway on my PC connected to the LAN1 port of the device. I then went to the landing page for the USG using the gateway IP provided and configured it to establish a PPoE connection using the bridged ADSL modem. This took a few tries for some reason but eventually worked.

I then used the google chrome discovery plugin to inform my USG of the address of my AWS controller. I found that I had to inform the USG (along with the switch and AP) a few times before it would take properly. I actually completed the adoption on a different laptop using my phones 4G hotspot externally. Once the USG was adopted I completed the adoption of the switch and AP by plugging my laptop into the switch (which was then in the LAN1 port of the USG).


Step 5: Update the firmware on each device starting with the USG

From the configuration tab for each device there is a firmware update option if one is available. I found it easier to find this using the UniFi app on my iPhone.

Step 6: Enjoy geeky graphs!

This is the best part about this equipment. I love having access to pretty graphs showing what’s going on in the network. There is a lot of detail that you can drill down into. Here is an example of a dashboard.

UniFi Traffic stats from a web view
UniFi iOS App Dashboard

Step 7: Take it further

Now that I have business grade functionality I can do things like setup a site to site VPN with my cloud AWS Lab or segregate my IoT devices from my other network devices using different SSIDs and VLANs. I have now put my IoT devices into their own group which gives me peace of mind.

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