Looking for Ceiling Mounted Dumb APs / Dumb Access Points

I'm looking for 1-2 wireless APs to operate behind a NanoPi R4S OpenWRT router (and some kind of PoE managed switch, I guess).

Looking for:

  • ceiling mount
  • Target budget is <$120 per unit, since that's what a low end new Unifi 6 will run you (and they appear to hold about 50% value after 4ish years).
  • OpenWRT is not a requirement.
  • active security patching (so this is likely where OpenWRT comes in)
  • bonus if the device is somewhat popular (but I don't see many ceiling devices on OpenWRT forums)
  • Ideally there's no cloud phone home /analytics after the initial install.
  • Wifi 4 / Wifi AC
  • <25 devices on AP, with 3-5 active and the rest being IoT/idle
  • not heavy throughput requirements (80+ Mbit minimum, 300+ ideal)
  • 1250 sqft, 3 floor home (but with thick walls)
  • stable, reliable wifi

Ubiquiti Unifi:

TP-Link Omada:

  • SOHO line of TP Link hardware?
  • Some ceiling mount APs
  • no/few OpenWRT support


  • seems out of my price range

Take a normal AP/router and stick it on the ceiling:

  • Great selection
  • cheap
  • ugly
  • harder to power
  • worse AP range/perf?

edit: I have this SQL query on the table of hardware.

select * from
case when supported != "FALSE" then TRUE
else FALSE
end as simple_supported,
case when supportedcurrentrel in ('PR pending', 'snapshot') then 'future'
when supportedcurrentrel = 'external image' then 'external image'
when supportedcurrentrel = '22.03.0' then 'stable'
when major = '21' then 'old?'
end as supported,
-- supportedcurrentrel, supportedsincecommit, supportedsincerel,
substr(supportedcurrentrel, 2) as major,
* from o
where simple_supported is TRUE
lower(wlan50ghz) like('%ac%')
and lower(devicetype) = 'wifi ap'
order by lower(brand), lower(devicetype)

All EAP is ceiling mounable, mostly OpenWrt supported but how good they actually work with OpenWrt installed is another question.

For me it starts to feel that pretty much all manufacturers has non open 5GHz drivers for business reasons so no AP actually works good on OpenWrt.
Eventually I went back to original firmware on my AP.

But if you aim for wifi6 business class you have some future proof and included wpa3 and software support for a couple of years.


you could use various APs flashed to OpenWrt... or just do what I did.

Bought an R4S for router and used an AC-Lite AP with a poe injector.

Run a unifi controller in a docker container on the r4s and job done. That avoids the need for a unifi key or cloud controller.

The issue as you rightly pointed out is firmware for ubiquity. That takes some browsing of their forums and figuring out a stable one for your purpose. The EOL isn't a problem as they haven't added anything below wave 1 devices to eol list. So look for at least wave2 or above to ensure some lifetime.

Personally if I was going to buy APs? I'd get the newer wifi 6 ap from them. I bought my AC-Lite from eBay but it is a wave 1 device. ideally you want at least a wave 2 (nanoHD) or the newer wifi6 if you have higher speed devices.

Below are some helpful links for research and planning.

I see that you specify AC, but assume AX will be OK if price and features are within spec? I'll also assume you'll end up running OpenWrt eventually. No reason to ask here otherwise. I have no idea how or if any of these devices work with OEM firmware.

Some good options, in my personal opinion:

  • Unifi 6 Lite. No, not difficult to tell - the "6 Lite" is supported, most other AX models are not.
  • Unifi 6 LR. The other supported AX model, but probably too pricey?

If you really want AC and not AX, then I have very good experience with two Unifi AP AC Pro for many years. But they are getting old, and have limited CPU, memory and flash compared to newer hardware. I don't recommend buying a new one when you can get a 6 Lite for the same price or less.

All these are fully supported by OpenWrt (at least in master), can be powered by standard PoE (802.3at) and are intended for ceiling mount

a proper wifi survey might be worth doing. I have same problem with concrete walls.

Also separating 2.4g and 5g SSIDs avoids some issues regarding band steering. I found that my devices would be bounced to lower speed 2.4G due to stronger signal strength even thou 5g signal was still useable and at a much faster data rate.

At least with a decent wifi map of the home will reveal your "blackspots". The ars technica guides are a decent start to help with your planning and eventual plan.

I run two EAP225 v1 devices that I bought used for cheap. Not the most powerful devices, but working very well in my setup.

I ended up with EAP265HD Omada. The "HD" upsell was more because I'm mounting it to the ceiling and think the $25 upsell over ~4 years is negligible. If I was on a budget I'd go with the basic Omada or a Zyxel, both around the $60-$75 range and less of a questionable vendor lock-in situation vs. Ubiquiti. There's also some bargain bin D Link and Netgear AC gear on ebay for $30-$60 used, but I couldn't find any user impressions so I went with a 4.5 star product on Amazon. Again, time/frustration vs. money.

Finally, I'll note that Cisco wireless N APs are $7.50, shipped. I didn't want to mess with it, but 10 years ago I would have (it would've been wireless G in the bargain bin back then...).

At TP-link the “HD” is if I remember right from the datasheet 1000 wifi clients instead of 250 wifi clients, guess they mean HighDensity.

Actually they never tell but the number of clients are the only meaningful thing different on the specs list for HD vs non HD models.

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Seems very similar to my EAP225 with 2GBit ports instead of one :slight_smile:

Yea, some have a link to next AP port. But only eth0 can actually power the AP with PoE.

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