Computers & Electronics

Need new access points to replace Cisco Meraki

  • Last Updated:
  • May 29th, 2017 7:13 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
1341 posts
207 upvotes
Woodbridge

Need new access points to replace Cisco Meraki

So I've been using the Cisco Meraki APs for almost three years now and their licenses are coming up to expire. Unfortunately I can't justify spending $150 per year per AP to keep the two of them around. So I'm wondering what alternatives are out there that can have some of the feature sets that the Merakis do?

So far I think this is some of the features I'd like to keep around with whatever new vendor I go with at home:

at least 3 SSIDs
ability to schedule SSIDs
isolate guests somehow
heatmaps (nice to have)
application inspection/identification or some kind of traffic analysis (nice to see what the kids are doing :))
POE

I'm probably leaning towards the Ubiquiti Unifi series but not sure if Google WiFi is a fit or any other vendor. I should also note that I'm using a pfsense firewall and that's not going to go away.

Thanks for any suggestions.
8 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
30467 posts
5026 upvotes
East Gwillimbury
I have some Ubiquiti UniFi AC Long Range Access points currently posted on the Buy and Sell forum if you want to try it out
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 18, 2002
6997 posts
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Toronto
The new Unifi APs should cover you for the above. If you want a more out of the box solution that includes scheduling, guest access etc. you'll need to also deploy a unifi USG (unifi's router solution) together with your APs.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
30467 posts
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East Gwillimbury
ichpen wrote:
May 28th, 2017 9:48 am
The new Unifi APs should cover you for the above. If you want a more out of the box solution that includes scheduling, guest access etc. you'll need to also deploy a unifi USG (unifi's router solution) together with your APs.
He has a pfSense router which will not be replaced. I don't blame him, I use pfSense as well and I would not go to an appliance grade router

Oddly enough I also have a Ubiquity router for sale

https://forums.redflagdeals.com/ubiquit ... k-2102245/
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
1341 posts
207 upvotes
Woodbridge
ichpen wrote:
May 28th, 2017 9:48 am
The new Unifi APs should cover you for the above. If you want a more out of the box solution that includes scheduling, guest access etc. you'll need to also deploy a unifi USG (unifi's router solution) together with your APs.
Question, does wanting a guest access SSID require the USG? I would have thought that the APs themselves could take care of this?
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
30467 posts
5026 upvotes
East Gwillimbury
lobo wrote:
May 28th, 2017 10:48 am
Question, does wanting a guest access SSID require the USG? I would have thought that the APs themselves could take care of this?
It doesn't require it, you can manage it directly from pfSense and use a VLAN to isolate the Guest network
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Nov 18, 2002
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Toronto
lobo wrote:
May 28th, 2017 10:48 am
Question, does wanting a guest access SSID require the USG? I would have thought that the APs themselves could take care of this?
Here's your list with USG requirements:

DPI - USG required
Heatmaps - no USG required
Guest - no USG required I think, but you'll need to run a controller to do fancy things like guest portals. As above you can also do this yourself with appropriate VLANs
Scheduling - no USG required
History/in depth stats - USG required

If you want to use the fancy Unifi UI you'll need to deploy the Controller software, you don't need it to run 24/7 only when doing config changes.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
1341 posts
207 upvotes
Woodbridge
Thanks ichpen. That's a good summary. I do plan on running the controller software on my main PC since I use it to host other things like my Plex server so it's always up. So basically it seems like I could live without the USG unless I want to get some in depth stats or DPI. Not sure how worth it is for home...the odd time it's nice to browse through it.

So is the consensus that Ubuiti is the way to go and not one of the other vendors?
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 3, 2005
1341 posts
207 upvotes
Woodbridge
One feature I just realized that I take advantage of with my Merakis is that for the SSID that I've designated as my guest SSID, I have it do the NAT'ing within the AP so that all the traffic I see on my firewall is from that one IP. Same thing with the kids' SSID. This just forces them to be isolated from the rest of the LAN and to use specific DNS settings (OpenDNS). From reading about the Ubiquiti it seems like these APs don't have any kind of NAT'ing capability whatsoever. What would be the recommended way to setup something similar? Would I need to create separate VLANs?

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