Very Pleased with Aruba Instant On Home Network/WiFi

Joined
Apr 15, 2017
Messages
4,707
Location
Napa, CA.
UniFi is popular in the prosumer/small business space when it comes to WiFi access points and while I used to be a fan, I no longer am. I've detailed why before and won't go into it again, but anyway, where I live now, due to the construction of the home, WiFi has been a struggle.

The stock Comcast modem/router gateway thing was useless. I tried a higher-end TP-Link Deco mesh setup, which I've had good luck with in the past at clients/friends/family homes, and it was unreliable here. I tried a competing (expensive) Netgear mesh system, and it worked great for about 10 minutes, then stopped working too. I returned that. So I'd just gone back to a single consumer grade Netgear WiFi router I had floating around and lived with the lousy WiFi.

More recently a friend who does IT work professionally mentioned Aruba Instant On to me. He has been installing these in his clients businesses for a couple years now (including some pretty large installs). He also had it as his home and was happy with it (and his home network moves a ton of bandwidth, he's got a lot going on), and so I decided to jump in and try it for myself.

I bought two Aruba AP22s and three managed switches (one of the switches I haven't set up yet, hence why in my screenshot it only shoes four devices). Currently, routing is handled by my old Netgear router (simply with WiFi off), but I'm going to replace it with a custom built opnsense PC when I get around to it. Aruba doesn't make any routers, only APs and switches, so you will need to keep that in mind. UniFi does have an advantage here as you can "unify" your whole setup with that.

Everything worked flawlessly and setup was super easy. Less than 10 minutes start to finish. Aruba Instant On uses a free cloud portal for management. Apparently there is a way to manage them locally if you want to, but for most people, the cloud portal will be totally fine. I do understand some people prefer locally running their own stuff instead of doing it in the cloud but I'm OK with it. If my internet is down I won't need to manage my network anyway... And if you did want your UniFi install cloud managed, it would cost you $29/month, while Aruba Instant On is free.

Compared to UniFi, the interface is not as "modern" in some ways, but it's way less buggy. Everything just works, and settings are where they should be. Ubiquiti puts far too much effort into being "Apple-like" by hidding stuff in menus.

And I'm far less concerned about unstable firmware updates than I would be on a UniFi setup - although I am not really a huge HP fan, the Aruba equipment does seem better built and I trust them more than I trust Ubiquiti to work reliably.

Happy to answer any questions and I will definitely be deploying more of this stuff at other sites in the future. If you like UniFi, great, and I'm not saying you should throw away perfectly working UniFi stuff to switch to Aruba right now, but I would say it's worth considering if you are building out a new home or business network. In terms of cost, there is pretty much no difference between UniFi and Aruba Instant On.

I bought my Aruba gear a mixture of Open Box and New off eBay and got good deals using the Best Offer function, but if you want to buy new, it seems like Provantage is the way to go.

aruba-portal.jpg


speedtest.jpg
 
Last edited:
I had UniFi APs in my home in 2019-2021 and had different issues, some of which stemmed from conflicting controller settings (new interface/classic interface), and some from being buggy firmware.

In early 2022 I pulled all that out, kept my EdgeRouter X (truly a decent little dumb/low-power router), put in an 8-port Aruba IO 1930, a 24-port 1930 and a single AP22 mounted in my attic. They have all been running flawlessly for over two years now. And the 8-port 1930/AP22 literally cook in the attic. It gets hot.

Most recently, my FIL built a new house and I equipped the whole place with an ER-X, 3 AP22s inside the house and garage, and two AP17s on the front and rear patio. Have a 24-port 1830 with 1/2 POE there as well. Another flawless setup that works as designed.

I am also a big fan of Aruba InstantON. I echo a lot of your statements, sure UniFi does have more features and tweaks+corresponding "vertical" product lines... but at the end of the day solid network + WiFi that you don't have to think about is second to none. Not having to manage a controller on site, buy a cloud key and no subscription is also a big plus.

I do realize now that Meraki GO has a free controller also. IMO I know in enterprise world, Cisco is king, but I do know of quite a few Orgs with large Aruba fleets who do are pleased with their performance. It has been said by many people that the Aruba Instant ON APS are the same as the Aruba Instant series but different software on them. So It is nice to know that the hardware is not some 3rd rate garbage, same quality. The MTBF rating on them is also pretty decent.
 
Why the sam heck would I want to allow anyone in the cloud access to my router and network settings?

I'm a set it and forget it type, but if I had to deal with it, I'd do it from inside the house.
 
I had UniFi APs in my home in 2019-2021 and had different issues, some of which stemmed from conflicting controller settings (new interface/classic interface), and some from being buggy firmware.

In early 2022 I pulled all that out, kept my EdgeRouter X (truly a decent little dumb/low-power router), put in an 8-port Aruba IO 1930, a 24-port 1930 and a single AP22 mounted in my attic. They have all been running flawlessly for over two years now. And the 8-port 1930/AP22 literally cook in the attic. It gets hot.

Most recently, my FIL built a new house and I equipped the whole place with an ER-X, 3 AP22s inside the house and garage, and two AP17s on the front and rear patio. Have a 24-port 1830 with 1/2 POE there as well. Another flawless setup that works as designed.

I am also a big fan of Aruba InstantON. I echo a lot of your statements, sure UniFi does have more features and tweaks+corresponding "vertical" product lines... but at the end of the day solid network + WiFi that you don't have to think about is second to none.

Yep, the EdgeMax platform was excellent. A few models/batches had hardware issues but overall, unbeatable price to performance.
 
I've heard good things about the 1930s. A client has two of them with minimal maintenance and no issues; I have one waiting at our second office to install whenever I get the new rack setup.
 
I've heard good things about the 1930s. A client has two of them with minimal maintenance and no issues; I have one waiting at our second office to install whenever I get the new rack setup.
Yep real nice units. The only thing I did to my 24 port 1930 was open it up and swap out the stock fan for a Noctua. At the time the switch was in a rack in my office and a little too noisy.

I think they also have a 1960 or higher that they market as a potential core switch for a small org. Would love to try one of their beefy offerings doing 10-40GB and see how it runs with a SAN and some VM traffic.
 
Never had any real issues using UniFi, and I echo the sentiment that not in a million years would I be hosting my controller in the cloud.

You don't need to pay with UniFi, I have it running on my laptop which manages several installations. If the laptop isn't on that network, it all continues to run and function perfectly well without it.

Only real criticism I have with UniFi is that their VLAN's are more complicated to setup than they should be, I'd like to see it support simpler setups with just a click or two.

I'm willing to bet that if you run Aruba long enough you'll find things to complain about as well, such is life. As long as you're happy with it though, and always great to have more competition.
 
I've used Aruba stuff since before they were part of HP, so for more than a decade. They had solid equipment at a very good price. Their instantON lineup is excellent, I manage many sites, as they are a very good alternative to Cisco if that's not in the budget, which, if you've ever dealt with doctors, is often the case, lol.

I've only very recently started to use Unifi, so I don't have any negative experience with it. You don't need a cloud key or a subscription to manage it if you are using a gateway, as I currently have three sites all using UDM SE's with various other components behind them and I can manage them all from my phone no matter where I am.

I recently bought a Unifi Enterprise switch and Enterprise AP, so we'll see how those fair going forward. They replaced a Cisco Meraki MS120 PoE switch and an MR20 access point, which had been bulletproof.
 
I have to try UniFi again, I had some bad experiences a few years ago and then back in 2012-2014 era. I am hoping it is a lot better.
 
I have to try UniFi again, I had some bad experiences a few years ago and then back in 2012-2014 era. I am hoping it is a lot better.

It's not just the managed controller that I love, and maybe I'm just lucky, but I have never restarted a single router/switch/access point. I took over an installation that was running for over 4 years without an admin, nobody even knew where the access points were it just worked all day every day. Logged into the controller, updated some firmware etc and it just keeps running. That installation has to be over a decade old at this point and there has never been a single complaint.

I run it in my home too, even my RV; I have a 20 foot wilson telescoping pole mounted to the back which has a cell booster, a nano station bridge (airos, but still), a unifi outdoor antenna and a small one mounted inside at min transmit power. I like to be well connected when I travel!
 
Opnsense can be overwhelming and too powerful, brush up on your networking just in case. I have been running Aruba IAPs for a good number of years. If you are behind a decent router you could look at their IAP-325 for $25 shipped. They are past EOL/EOS, but behind an Opnsense it matters not. Excellent 4x4 radio and fantastic signal shaping. Mine runs on a weak PoE at a diminished power yet covers a large house with aplomb. And those do have a decent VLAN provisioning and a built-in firewalls as well.
 
Opnsense can be overwhelming and too powerful, brush up on your networking just in case. I have been running Aruba IAPs for a good number of years. If you are behind a decent router you could look at their IAP-325 for $25 shipped. They are past EOL/EOS, but behind an Opnsense it matters not. Excellent 4x4 radio and fantastic signal shaping. Mine runs on a weak PoE at a diminished power yet covers a large house with aplomb. And those do have a decent VLAN provisioning and a built-in firewalls as well.

Thank you, I’ve used opnsense for years, always loved it :)
 
Back
Top