DIY: How to mount a UniFi access point to the ceiling

Last year when I moved into my new apartment, I upgraded to a Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine (UDM) router to support the gigabit Internet speed I could now subscribe to. Due to the location of the fiber optical network terminal (ONT) in my home, the UDM had to be located in the closet of my secondary bedroom, which is on one side of the apartment. Now while the UDM has a powerful enough Wi-Fi signal that can cover my apartment reasonably, the 5GHz band, is significantly weaker two walls over in my main bedroom. In addition, over the summer I realized that the Wi-Fi was also pretty spotty on my balcony due to also having to cross two walls plus glass.

So I decided to go on a quest to improve the Wi-Fi signal. The main lineup of UniFi’s access points (AP) consist of the circular-shaped ceiling-mounted access points. I decided to go for the Unifi6 Pro. Probably very overkill.

Although they can be mounted to the wall, the radiation pattern means that the area behind the wall is a dead zone. This would not work for me because I didn’t have a free wall that would face my entire apartment. Soon, I found the best place to ceiling mount an AP would be to mount it on the kitchen bulkhead. The rest of my ceiling is concrete so it would not have been easy to mount and run the Ethernet cable cleanly. With the bulkhead I could mount the AP to it and run the cable through it to the closet, which is conveniently adjacent to the kitchen. My kitchen is also pretty central to the apartment, so an AP located there would be able to cover most of the apartment by line of sight, or through one wall at most.

Just to make sure it was feasible, I popped out some of the recessed ceiling lights in order to take a look at what was inside the bulkhead. This was to check that the space I wanted to mount it was clear, and that the bulkhead did indeed run into the closet without any additional barriers.

Tools and items used:

  • Stud sensor – To find a good space to cut
  • Jab/drywall saw – To make the hole for the mounting bracket
  • Fish tape and/or Fibreglass rods – This will depend on your run. I ended up using both, using the fish tape to run the line, while using the rods to “push” or “help” the fish tape over/under some obstacles.
  • Low voltage bracket – single gang size. The UniFi AP’s mounting brackets will fit a single gang bracket with no additional holes needed. Also when you move out it will be simple to cover this with a blank plate or one with a keystone jack. You might need another one depending on where the other end of your Ethernet cable ends up.
  • Ethernet cable – your preference, depending on length and speed and how future-proof you want the cable to be. I just used typical Cat5e.
  • String – for helping pull cables
  • Punch down tool – Because my cable will be run to a network patch panel, this will be used to terminate the cable to the panel. But if you aren’t terminating at a patch panel, then ignore this.
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