Outdoor WiFi Upgrade

With thick walls, metal-coated cavity wall insulation and triple-glazed windows with Low-E coatings it was always going to be difficult for the signal from the indoor WiFi access points to reach the outside – and there is quite a lot of outside space to cover – so there are two dedicated outdoor WiFi access points – one on the West elevation and one on the East.

A pair of Ubiquiti UniFi UAP Outdoor+ units have been doing the job since 2015 but for a few months now the UniFi management console has been showing these were approaching End of Support and would not receive firmware updates after March 2021. These older APs have also never supported 5GHz WiFi, only 2.4GHz (whereas the indoor units support both): time for an upgrade.

Old Ubiquiti UniFi AP Outdoor+ WiFi Access Point

After 6 years in the sun and the rain these had weathered somewhat and it was difficult to slide them out of the support brackets but with a bit of jiggling they came free without breaking.

New Ubiquiti UniFi UAP-AC-M Outdoor WiFi Access Point

As the second photo shows, the new units are slightly smaller than the old ones, despite being more capable. The power consumption is also slightly lower – a shade under 3W rather than a shade under 4W (these are connected back to a UniFi Power over Ethernet switch which reports the power consumption of each port drawing PoE power). The new units connect at 1Gb/s rather than 100Mb/s, since in 5GHz mode they can support more than 100Mb/s.

A nice touch is several features that make these easy to install, as shown in the photos below.

Installer-friendly features on the new UAP-AC-M: built-in spirit level on the wall bracket and a strap to retain the cable-entry cover

The one respect in which the newer units are less capable than the older ones is that the new ones only have a Single wired Ethernet port whereas the old ones had two – a Primary and a Secondary, the idea being that they could be used to connect a wired device to the Secondary port which then received data over WiFi from a separate Access Point. This feature is still available from the more capable (but more expensive – literally double the price) UAP-AC-M-PRO.

SMETS2 Meter Installed

After being on the Octopus Energy smart meter installation waiting list for 3 months (not helped by Covid-19 working restrictions) the old ‘dumb’ meter was replaced with a SMETS2 smart meter today. A very neat and tidy installation by Privodor who are recruiting and training new installers to help with the backlog. (I don’t know why those meter tails with coloured sheathing, originally installed by SSE, aren’t more widely available / used.)

As expected it had no issues with getting a Telefonica (O2) signal and it commissioned straight away. Once it registers with Octopus I’ll be switched to their Agile tariff.

SMETS2 Meter installed in the outdoor Meter Cabinet

A pleasant surprise is that the supplied Chameleon IHD6 in-home display had no issues with range (the cabinet is about 15m from the house) and it’s (mostly) picking up a signal in the middle of the house. After enabling WiFi on the IHD6 it’s evident it’s publishing readings using MQTT-in-TLS – but it only seems to be configured to send these direct to Chameleon.