AmpliFi routers in bridge mode and the ethernet ports


  • I've searched the forums and found lots of similar topics but none that quite answer my questions:

    I have a setup with an ER Lite in the middle of the house and two very old access points on either end of the house (necessary) which are both wired to the central router. I was hoping to replace the access points with a more modern device like the AmpliFi router that supports newer WiFi standards so I can get a little bit more speed.

    I'm guessing that the AmpliFi boxes need to be in bridge mode if I want them to talk to the ER Lite? If I do this and they have the same SSID, will wireless devices automatically pick the best access point to connect to?

    I'm also wanting confirmation that the 4/5 ethernet ports on the back can be used as a switch that I can connect other computers to? I assumed this would work, then I saw this post: https://community.amplifi.com/topic/1200/ethernet-port-when-running-in-bridge-mode which says to connect the AmpliFi WAN port to the main router even in bridge mode. I completely don't understand this - I would assume that if you put a router into bridge mode, the only thing that makes sense is for the WAN port to act like all the other ports. Can somebody clarify this for me and let me know if the other ports are usable in bridge mode?

    Thanks!

    Nick


  • Hi @nicholas-appleton - I will attempt to answer your questions, but it would help to know a little more detail about your setup...

    "I'm guessing that the AmpliFi boxes need to be in bridge mode if I want them to talk to the ER Lite?" - Bridge mode is recommended in order to avoid double NAT, but note that in Bridge mode you will lose some AmpliFi functionality like Guest WiFi and QoS.

    "If I do this and they have the same SSID, will wireless devices automatically pick the best access point to connect to?" - I am assuming you are thinking of installing the 2 HD routers as independent (not meshed) access points. You can give them the same SSID and password and that will work. But you will then have to manage them separately with the app (different logins), or use the touch screens for things like firmware updates. Bridge mode doesn't require a lot of management in general, but it isn't ideal having 2 separate installs at the same location.

    Which AP the wireless client uses is entirely up to the client device, so AmpliFi cannot control this. Meshed access points can try to influence the client with features like steering, but ultimately the client decides, and that depends a lot on how strong the signals, how much they overlap, and how your devices react to the signal environment.

    "I'm also wanting confirmation that the 4/5 ethernet ports on the back can be used as a switch that I can connect other computers to?" - confirmed the 4 LAN Ethernet ports on the back can be used as a switch to connect other devices.

    "...connect the AmpliFi WAN port to the main router even in bridge mode..." - the HD router in Bridge mode needs wired Ethernet access to the main router (i.e. your ER Lite) to become part of the LAN. This is accomplished by connecting an ER Lite LAN port to the blue AmpliFi HD WAN port. The other 4 AmpliFi LAN ports then become part of the switched LAN.

    Other notes...what AmpliFi really wants you to do is have one primary HD router and then add additional routers to the mesh, so it is all managed as one. Your setup isn't ideal for this because your ER Lite is in the middle.

    In an ideal AmpliFi mesh setup, you would replace the ER Lite with a primary HD router (not in Bridge mode) and then add two more HD routers as wired Ethernet backhaul meshpoints at both ends of the house.

    Or use 3 HD routers, one in the middle on top of the ER Lite in Bride mode, and then two more HD routers as wired Ethernet backhaul meshpoints at both ends of the house.

    What I don't know, and you can check with @UBNT-Brett or @UBNT-Kevin directly by chat, is if a 2nd HD router will mesh with a primary HD router in Bridge mode if just their WAN ports are connected via a switched access in your ER Lite.
    Normally to install an HD router as a meshpoint with wired Ethernet backhaul you connect one of the primary HD's LAN ports to the second HD meshpoint router's WAN port.

    Since Bridge mode routers are all on the same subnet, maybe you can add a switch interface in the ER Lite for both HD WAN ports and it will work, but I have never tried that personally.
    Or you would have to run a second Ethernet cable between the 2 HD routers.
    I would ask @UBNT-Brett...

    Other questions, why do you want to use 2 AmpliFi HD routers instead of other UBNT access points?
    You might just be able to use AirCubes although they are 2x2 and not 3x3.
    Do you need to keep the ER Lite?
    How many Ethernet ports do you need at each end of the house?
    Is cost a concern?
    Do you need 3x3 MIMO over 2x2 MIMO?
    Is a 3 router mesh an option for you?

    AmpliFi Instant routers are $50 cheaper than HD's but only have one LAN port, 2x2 MIMO and slightly weaker antennas (which may not be a bad thing depending on how strong you need the signals to be at each end of the house).

    My recommendation, first find out if you can add a second HD router as a meshpoint with just their WAN ports connected (@UBNT-Brett?). Then go from there...

    Sorry this response was so long, but your situation is unique


  • Hi Derek,

    Thanks for the detailed reply.

    "Other questions, why do you want to use 2 AmpliFi HD routers instead of other UBNT access points?
    You might just be able to use AirCubes although they are 2x2 and not 3x3.
    Do you need to keep the ER Lite?
    How many Ethernet ports do you need at each end of the house?
    Is cost a concern?
    Do you need 3x3 MIMO over 2x2 MIMO?
    Is a 3 router mesh an option for you?"

    The main reason I had looked at the AmpliFi boxes was because they have the 4-port switch. At the moment, both access points I am using have at least 4-ports available for peripheral devices - which are being used by things like printers and televisions and wired computers. I had originally looked at AP Pro devices, but that would have required that I purchase additional switches to be placed near the access points for the other gear as well as some PoE supplies - this is undesirable for me mainly for aesthetic reasons.

    I think some of my original questions were posted in haste assuming that the AmpliFi routers were going to be the best option for me. I had not noticed the existence of AirCubes (they don't seem to be stocked by the suppliers I normally look at in Australia) but these seem to be more appropriate for my use case... although the maximum speeds are less than what the AmpliFi boxes offer.

    I'm not keen to replace the ER at this stage.

    This is now an off-topic question for this forum, but are there any plans to provide AirCubes with WiFi performance matching the AmpliFi boxes any time soon?

    Thanks again!


  • Hi @nicholas-appleton - just my personal opinion...IF (and it's a big if that needs be tested or confirmed by AmpliFi) IF a 2nd HD router can join a Bridged HD mesh connected via switched ER-LITE Ethernet LAN ports, then that is your best option for using AmpliFi HD's which work well in my experience.

    HD1 WAN --- ERL eth1 + ERL eth2 --- HD2 WAN

    The fallback here if it doesn't work is as you asked - configure both HD's with the same SSID and password and run them independently in Bridge mode, which means they have to be managed separately in the app, but I do do that in some cases.

    The next best option if you can afford it would be to use 3 HD's with the primary Bridged one on top of your ER-Lite with the other 2 just being mesh points.

    ERL eth1 --- HD1 WAN [] HD1 eth1 --- HD2 WAN
    .....................................[] HD1 eth2 --- HD3 WAN


  • @nicholas-appleton, @Derek-Saville did a great job at answering your questions, the only thing I want to add is that if you do have the AmpliFi routers configured on each end of the house in bridge mode with the same SSID, it wont be a true mesh network so the handoff between nodes wont be as smooth. If a device has a good signal from one node, it wont be as willing to jump if it has a solid connection.


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