Ubiquiti Networks NanoSwitch (N-SW) Unmanaged Passive 24V Passthrough Switch

The new, and still in short supply, Ubiquiti Networks NanoSwitch N-SW provides 1-to-3 passive 24V passthrough Gigabit Ethernet switching for a very reasonable $40. The weatherproof form factor and -30 to 70° C (-22 to 158° F) operating temperature make it a great solution for all but the most extreme locales. But, the lack of manageability and modern power over Ethernet (PoE) standards limits the long term usefulness of the device.

Device

The Ubiquiti NanoSwitch N-SW’s packaging is familiar and functional. Besides the switch itself, two compression rings for pole mounting and a self-tapping ground screw are included. Bizarrely wall mounters will need to rummage through their castoff hardware jars to find the two [small headed] screws required to attach the N-SW to anything that is not a pole.

Most of the bulk of the Ubiquiti NanoSwitch N-SW is taken up by the weather proof external chassis. With only about 25% of the total size allocated to the passive 24V powered passthrough switch. Like other PoE Unifi switches the ports include lights to indicate power and link status.

Use

Installation is simple and straightforward, once suitable mounting screws have been located. Which in my case actually took longer than the time required to drive them into a support structure in my garage and run the grounding wire. Because the N-SW is mounted inside the garage, I did not bother putting the bottom cover on the switch, but outdoor installs will require this for water protection. I like that Ubiquiti did not punch out all of the slots for wires, which will make it harder for vermin to get inside the unused holes.

In my use the neither the unmanagedness or strictly passive 24V PoE support were an issue, but both limit the usefulness in other scenarios as well as future expandability. Ubiquiti is understandably moving away from passive 24V to modern standards for PoE for most of their products, so while the N-SW works for me now, if I upgrade my Unifi cameras to new 802.11af/at kit the NanoSwitch will be useless and there is not a substitute available from them to take its place. I think this is less important than the lack of managed features however, given the target demographic for the switch.

Many installations will want use VLANs to segment traffic. For example, placing security cameras on a different subnet than wireless input/output. Because the N-SW is unmanaged, the options for traffic segmentation are limited at the source feeding the N-SW. So all of the devices in this marketing image will need to be on the same subnet, even though it is a mix of cameras and backhaul.

Conclusion

The $40 Ubiquiti NanoSwitch N-SW makes it really easy to add additional 24V Ethernet capability without doing additional pulls. The passive 24V-only nature of the device is odd, and lamentable, given Ubiquiti’s move away from the format. Also, the lack of managed features (i.e. VLAN) limits the usefulness in more advanced scenarios. All that said, it was perfect for what I needed when expanding the networking capability in my garage. Should I decide to add more 24V devices in other outdoor locations the N-SW is a no-brainer compared to the hassle of pulling more cable. I do hope that Ubiquiti has a 802.11af/at version of the NanoSwitch in the works for future expandability.

Pro

  • 24V Ethernet 1->3 port passthrough
  • Weather resistant

Con

  • Unmanaged (i.e. no VLAN port control)
  • Passive 24V only
  • Wall mounting screws not included

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