A couple months ago when the need came to fix some home networking issues, I turned to a company that I often heard a co-worker talk abut: Ubiquiti. I started humble with just an EdgeRouter 4 as the entry point and main routing for my home. Then when the urge to build out a full homelab + network setup came, I turned to Ubiquiti again.
I’m doing 2 things. 1) Setting up a more reliable and wider range wifi network for my home. 2) Setting up a more robust network for homelab connectivity.
Ubiquiti offers the UniFi line that can do all of this. The UI for the UniFi controller is very good. However I also found the UniFi line to be more expensive / performance than the EdgeMax for anything you put in a rack (switch, router, etc). For WiFi mesh, UniFi does this very well, and offers multiple different types of access points based on what you need it for. The user interface is also much better for UniFi, using a single controller for all your devices. You can kinda do something similar with UNMS (EdgeMax in the cloud), but it’s not the same as you get with UniFi (which also has cloud management).
For price reasons, and because network should not be something you need to configure much after initial setup, I decided to use the EdgeMax line for anything in my rack, and the UniFi line for WiFi. This is probably the only issue with my setup. Half of my network is EdgeMax managed and the other half is UniFi.
My house is already well connected, and I have cat5 running to quite a few rooms already, so going with powered over ethernet (PoE) access points made this easier. I try to hide the access points but they still aren’t awful to look at when mounted to the wall or ceiling. We need 3 access points to cover the house and backyard properly. So noted I need a switch with at least 3 PoE (maybe a 4th).
I also have a few other “devices” if you will that need to connect into the home network. An NVR for security cameras, and a couple of audio sinks that we can use as input sources for the whole home audio system. So that’s an EdgeRouter 10XP that we will use for all devices.
I have a 24-port Gigabit switch which has been my tried and true for several years now. That will remain to connect most of all the things that in the house. TVs, set top boxes, my office, things like that.
Finally the future home lab, and anything we call part of it (ie: storage). For this I will have 1 server with dual ethernet ports. In the future I may add a second server. Servers also have management ports, for Dell this is iDRAC. So that’s 3 ports per compute server. Looking at storage I have just a single ethernet port NAS today, but potential upgrade to one with dual. With all of this I also need a switch that can do link aggregation to take advantage of dual networks. I can solve this with an EdgeSwitch 10X.
Note: I can solve both devices and compute with a single 16-port switch, but the cost was more than $100 difference, and I have plenty of rack room.
Each switch gets it’s own port from my EdgeRouter 4, each on their own subnet. This means I get 750+ addresses in my house divided into 3 groups. All of this handled without having to do anything special. It’s all just default plug in everything together and turn it on.
Setting up the UniFi access points to create a WiFi mesh is easy as well. Plug in your devices into a network switch with PoE, then configure it using the UniFi Controller software. The software will discover your endpoints, provision them, and configure to any wifi / network settings you specified in the controller setup wizard. You can tweak your wifi settings anytime, including many different radio optimizations.
Note: If everything is on the same subnet this is a piece of cake, and that’s how I did it on the initial setup. Later in life I moved my controller software to its own VM running on a different subnet. Doing this requires a few extra steps to be completed that I mention here.