Using a Unifi Dream Router as an AP and Controller ONLY

I currently have a working network with Xifnity Modem in Bridge mode, Netgate 2100 as the system router, Asus set for AP mode, and 4 TPLINK semi managed switches. All works well.

My goal is to use the 1X Unifi U6 AP Lite, and the Unifi DR to replace the Asus AP for full house coverage.

Can I run the Unifi Dream Router in AP mode and use the controller to config/run the Unifi AP’s and eventually use the Unifi Switch Flex Minis to replace the TPLINK stuff. I don’t want to daisy chain the router functions. In my application, the Dream Router can be located in a near center of the home and add a U6 Lite AP at another location.

I need to run the Controller full time to manage the U6 Lite AP, the Dream Router and the future Unifi Switch Elite Minis.

The dream router doesn’t have an “AP mode” but you can do some tricks to make it work - this requires VLANs or a separate connection from the 2100 to the UDR.

  1. Make a new VLAN or non-bridged interface on the 2100, with a new subnet. Connect the UDR’a WAN port to this interface/VLAN. The UDR will always need a WAN connection, and you can’t have the same subnet on WAN and LAN.
  2. Boot up the UDR but don’t connect the LAN yet. Set it up as much or as little as you want.
  3. On the Default Network within Unifi, disable the DHCP server, and change the “Gateway IP” to something that is within your main subnet, but not overlapping. Like 192.168.1.2. This controls the IP that the UDR will use on the LAN - like the IP of a switch or AP. On all other networks you set up, you want “VLAN only” in old UI terminology, or what the new UI calls a “Network Isolation” network.
  4. Now you can connect the UDR’s LAN to your network and it should work as requested.

The key parts are providing the UDR a WAN connection, disabling the DHCP server, and changing its IP to something that doesn’t conflict. If nothing is programmed (manually or by DHCP) to use its IP as the default gateway, then nothing will and it will effectively just be an AP/switch and controller.

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Have a look at these videos

GREAT explanation BRWAINER (thanks) …but the NOTE about the UDR needing a WAN is they key to a less than simple solution. This is my home network, and I like to use the KISS principal…my life is filled with many moving pieces and don’t want URGENT tech support issues from the Wife while I’m busy off premises.

As for the other Videos, I did watch them and they did not fit my KISS principle…No sense in complicating my life, as there are other simple, but costly, solutions. Of course I could remove the Netgate 2100 and rely on the UDR as designed…but I have a lot of faith in the PFSense as a proven Firewall., or keep the config and go with a dedicated Control device to manage the Unifi system.

The “Dream” lineup is Ubiquiti’s dream - that every office or home uses one of these as the only router device - not the community’s dream. They have not cared about making the lineup usable with another router in place - for example, they acknowledged the community’s request to be able to disable outbound NAT two years ago (actually a much older request dating back to the USG, but the USG had the ability to insert custom config JSON as a workaround) and haven’t made an option that consists of simply not outputting a single line of IPTables config available. Because if/when they make that option available, people have to understand to set up static routes on the upstream router pointing to the subnets behind the UDR/M/W, and there’s going to be people who don’t know that and blame Ubiquiti. As far as an “AP Mode”, that’s not the point of this product, more along the KISS model is to use a Cloud Key plus an AP. It may sound less simple to have multiple devices, but when troubleshooting an issue its way better to not have something configured in multiple ways. Multiple simple devices instead of one complicated one. That’s why you’re using separate router and wireless already (ignoring the need to have multiple APs for signal reasons)