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Access Points (APs) connect to a router via an Ethernet cable and extend the range of the Wi-Fi network(s) created by the router. They compete with Mesh Wi-Fi systems and Wi-Fi extenders. For more on this, see the page on Extending the Wi-Fi range. All access points are not the same, some can also form a mesh network. This lets you start small and expand later, if necessary.

On issue with APs is the software for managing and controlling them. Some APs have a web interface for configuration, some require external controller software. Peplink Balance routers include controller software for managing Peplink APs. Thus, if buy Peplink APs this means not having to deal with controller software from a different company. The Pepwave Surf SOHO does not include controller software.

Electricity can be an issue with some Access Points. Rather than simply plug them into an electric outlet, many APs are designed to be powered by the mandatory Ethernet cable. This, in turn, requires a device that sends electricity over the Ethernet cable, something normal routers and switches do not do. Access Points marketed to large organizations are often sold without a power cord as the vendor assumes they will be powered via Ethernet.

Peplink APs for many years were not mesh capable. This changed late in 2020 and Peplink APs can now form a mesh. Ubiquiti is a big player in the AP market, but I am not a fan of the company.

Two high end but still reasonably affordable APs are the Ruckus Unleashed line and the Aruba Instant On line. They are similar in that both do not require dedicated controller software. Both are sold individually, so you can start with a single device. And, when using multiple devices, each is said to support a self-configuring (aka self-clustering) mesh network where one of the APs controls the operation of the others.

I have not used these APs, the information below is just an FYI cheat sheet, based on what I have read. In particular, I am not sure whether these devices can function totally on their own. That is, whether a cloud service from the manufacturer is mandatory. It is far better, not to be dependent on a cloud service. I am also not sure whether there is an ongoing charge for software updates.

Aruba Instant On

Aruba Instant On Access points support 8 SSIDs and VLANs. Like Ruckus, they are normally sold without a power cable. They can be managed directly via a web interface or a with a mobile app. They can also be managed with the cloud service at where accounts are free.

Instant On APs can schedule the availability of SSIDs, support Layer 2 isolation (which blocks clients from seeing each other) and they can enforce different per-client bandwidth limits.

The AP12 is a mid-range model. In April 2021, it was available with a bundled power cord for $160 from both B and H Photo Video and from Connection. It was reviewed by Dave Mitchell in December 2020: Aruba Instant On AP12 review: An outstanding SMB solution. The lower end AP11 model was $105 with a bundled power cord at B and H in April 2021.

Aruba is owned by HP.

Ruckus Unleashed

Ruckus specializes in Wi-Fi and their Access Points, while somewhat expensive, are universally praised. The Ruckus "unleashed" line of Access Points have controller software built into them. See the data sheet (pdf). The first installed Ruckus unleashed AP becomes the master/controller. When another AP is added, it inherits the configuration from the master automatically.

The 9U1 firmware models are "unleashed," other AP firmware requires separate controller software. I do not know the rules for Ruckus tech support or for ongoing firmware updates to the Access Points.

The cheapest Ruckus AP is the R310. For home use, this should be fine. The next step up is the R510 and it is a big step up. Going any higher up the line makes no sense for home use.

As a high end company, Ruckus does not sell directly to consumers, you are supposed to buy through an authorized reseller. You can also buy from, but doing so means no support from Ruckus. The only thing you get with an Amazon purchase is a 30 day guarantee that the AP is not dead on arrival. Since APs have no moving parts, buying a used one on eBay makes sense too. Prices from April 2020: An R310 at Amazon was $145, from Zones, an authorized reseller, $217. An R510 at Amazon was $260, at Zones it ws $387.

Ruckus is now owned by Commscope which broke the links that used to be here when they retired the website. I think this is the second company that bought out Ruckus.

Ruckus APs are normally powered via the Ethernet cable. This requires a specialized device called a PoE injector which costs about $60. They can be powered normally, but you have to buy a 12 volt DC, 1 amp power supply on your own. I think this costs about $10.

Meraki Go

I have no experience with Meraki. The company sells high end networking hardware, but their "Go" division is quite different. Just like Ruckus and Aruba created a cheaper line of products, so too the Meraki Go line is much cheaper than their regular products. The Go line is intended for a non technical audience. There is a single Go router and two Go Access Points (one indoor, one outdoor) that sell for slightly over $100 US (as of March 2022). From what I have read, Ruckus Unleashed or Aruba Instant-On would be better options.

For one thing, there is very little choice in the Meraki Go line. The GX20 router does not do Wi-Fi and is limited to 250Mbps. The devices must be managed with a mobile app, there is no web interface at all, either local or in the cloud. You must have an account with Meraki. There seem to be very few reviews of the Go devices. On the upside, the devices do self-update.

Finally, Meraki is owned by Cisco which has a poor track record when it comes to security.

Page Created: April 17, 2021      
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