Questions about Balance One and Peplink AP’s

Hello!

Long time lurker here.

I’m curious about the Balance One and Peplink APs vs Ubiquiti in a home environment. I live in a 1960’s era ranch style home with 2400 sq ft in the main level and 2400 sq ft in the furnished basement. Lots of walls and small bedrooms.

I’m currently using a UniFi dream machine base with a couple of Ubiquiti AP’s some with wired uplinks and some using wireless. A couple of vlans for iot but nothing very complex. I’m not happy with the constant beta software releases and lack of detailed reporting. It has fancy graphs but you can’t drill down to get anything meaningful.

I am considering a Balance One since I have a 400/400 fiber connection and some Peplink AC Mini AP’s but had a few questions:

How detailed is the data reporting in the Balance One? Client traffic, bandwidth, outbound connections, firewall events etc.

How is the performance of the Peplink AP’s particularly the AC Mini? I know that can be a subjective question and it depends so much on the environment, but just general impressions would be helpful. Coverage, actual throughput etc

Can the AP’s connect via wireless uplink?

Overall thoughts of a Peplink setup in a larger older home vs a UniFi setup?

Thanks!

For some sample reports see the section on Monitoring and Reporting here
https://www.routersecurity.org/pepwavesurfsofo.php

There is also a demo of the Peplink web interface here (but it is fudged a bit)

As for outbound connections, you can create a firewall rule to log all the activity of any particular device. It also shows all current connections which is great for verifying that a VPN is actually working. I can’t speak to your other questions.

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Thank you very much, that is helpful!

I would still be curious as to feedback on the performance of Peplink AP’s especially the AC mini. If anyone has compared them to the Unifi AP’s that would be good to know too. Thank you in advance.

I use a Surf SOHO right now as my single AP, located somewhat centrally in small townhome. Approx. 800 sq ft per floor + 270 sqft finished basement.

My SOHO is currently broadcasting on both bands, 20mghz wide channel for both. 5ghz band is using a somewhat unique channel available only when using 20mghz channel width, ch 165. Trying to avoid channel overlap as much as possible. My area sees anywhere from 60 to 100 other networks.

The SOHO tx power is currently 16dbm on 2.4 (high setting) and 21dbm on 5ghz (MAX setting).

I did a site survey and provided heatmaps here:

https://forum.peplink.com/t/heatmaps-provided-advice-on-placement-of-ap-surf-soho-or-ap-one-ac-mini/29851/3

Still somewhat impressed with the range. Speedtest next to the SOHO over wifi will hit about 100-110… furthest bedroom will drop to 40 or so… all on 5ghz.

The AP mini tx power for both bands is rated at 17dbm i believe and antenna gain is rated at 2.2dbi for 2.4 and 3dbi for 5ghz.

Both are omni directional, but the SOHO antennas are external. And the SOHO antennas are 3x3 MU-MIMO compared to the 2x2 MU-MIMO of the AP mini. But that i believe is meaningless unless your wireless devices are compatible with MU-MIMO.

To me, I would expect the performance and range of an AP mini to be inferior to my SOHO given the specs on paper…

But i am considering adding an AP mini to the upstairs hallway to help with the range a little.

But honestly can’t complain with the SOHO as it is now.

Hope this helps.

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OK. I’ll bite. The good experience that @stego relayed to you is similar to ours with the important notation that we’ve been able to avoid such densely packed environments (thankfully – and with carefully-crafted intent. :wink:)

However, we have installed and still maintain a number of Ubiquity installations. Ubiquity is “good stuff” and has come a long way (it was a true mess when PC/java-based controllers talked to the APs. Horrible.) Having said that, all of our new installs have been Peplink. In our view, Peplink presents a “cleaner” and better integrated solution. The Balance One, as you have suggested, has a built-in controller which is well designed and is entirely effective. Add an AP, and perhaps another, and another, and the controller will find and configure them. It “just works.”

Although we have an antenna test range we’ve never compared any of the Unifi products to Peplink’s. However (also conferring with others here who are “tuned in”), we think Peplink’s products work well and are good replacements for Ubiquitys. The AC Mini is a good product and we’ve had great results with it. Frankly, even if we found that the Mini’s antennas yielded a few dB less gain than a comparable Ubiquity product, or the AP RX was a couple of dBm less sensitive we’d go with the former because of the ease of integration and administration. (FWIW, I’ll also note that a couple of years ago we replaced our relatively updated Unifi products in our homes, one for one, with Pepwave APs. Never have looked back.)

Just one guy’s opinion. :blush:

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Thank you both that is great info. What managed switches do you all use? If Peplink, does the controller in the Balance One manage the switches too like the UniFi controller can control Ubiquiti switches? It’s not a deal-breaker, but I have some vlans so need to use managed switches.

I used to use pfsense with Ruckus Unleashed AP’s at my house and I liked that setup, but prefer the integrated setup where I can see and manage everything in one place.

Thanks again.

I don’t use a managed switch yet as most of my clients I want isolated into vlans are wireless. But the SOHO has 4 available ports if ever i need to wire in a device to a specific VLAN.

One thing I haven’t tried is tying in a dumb switch into a tagged access vlan port on the SOHO. Would provide additional ports for isolated wired devices to one vlan. However, possible that L2 isolation won’t work for devices sharing the same dumb switch. I believe @Michael234 has a write up on his blog over at https://routersecurity.org/vlan.php, bottom of page in “Extra credit” section.