SAFELY installing outdoor AP (and cameras)

Hey folks,

Planning to install an outdoor UniFi AP (the UAP-AC-M) at the back of my house for better coverage in the backyard and detached garage. I live in St Louis, where we get quite a few thunderstorms, so I want to make sure I do this safely. A few questions that I haven’t been able to find satisfactory answers to (will outline my full plan below, for context and hole-poking):

  1. Do I need to have a lightning rod on my home before considering outdoor networking equipment?

  2. Should I mount outdoor networking equipment on metal, wood, or plastic pole? My first thought was metal for rigidity and the ability to ground the pole once, and then ground devices to the pole. But I don’t want it to turn into an impromptu lightning rod that will fry the devices attached to it.

  3. Can the UniFi surge protector live outside? Or do I need to put this in a weather-proof box?

Full plan: My network comes in via coax to a grounded connection at the back of the house (I’ll use this same ground point for the new outdoor equipment). Coax then travels along the exterior of my house to the front, where it enters my office. It’ll run through a coax surge protector (assuming this doesn’t severely hamstring my speed), and into a modem. I’ll use UTP CAT6 for all interior Ethernet runs. I’ll go from the modem to my home server (which will probably run PfSense on ProxMox), and then to a usw-16-poe. The switch will feed into an indoor NanoHD, and a shielded Ethernet keystone in the wall next to where the coax enters. I’ll then run shielded cable back along the exterior of my house to a UniFi Ethernet surge protector (grounded to the same point at the coax), and from there to my AP.

Bonus question 4: Eventually I want to mount 2 G4 camera on the same pole as the new AP. Seems easiest to run 3 separate cables, each with its own grounded surge protector. I could also run a single cable with a single surge protector to a USW Flex, and run all three devices off of that. Looking for the simplest/easiest solution here. Thoughts?

Thanks all in advance!

  1. No but go ahead and do it if it makes you feel safer.
  2. Metal pole is fine, however if its going to be the tallest thing around then I would suggest grounding it separately from the equipment on it. A lightning strike has two parts, a build up of charge and then a rapid release. If the pole did end up being a lightning rod, anything connected to it would be affected by the build up of charge. If not doing metal I would prefer wood - it seems to be good enough for street poles until reinforced concrete.
  3. If you are just going to have one surge protector, then it should be inside the house. The best practice is to have two on each long outdoor line, one at each end. The one on the pole doesn’t need a weatherproof box if you mount it right-side-up. By the way, these only work if they are grounded.
  4. Go with the USW-Flex.But maybe run a second line at the same time to save effort in the future.