Matter is the new Smart Home standard – whether you like it or not (and you should like it), its hear to stay. But setting up Wifi Matter devices on a Unifi network can sometimes be troublesome as there are some particular nuances of Matter that you must consider when you add these devices to your Home Assistant setup. In this post I’ll run through the basics of the Matter standard and cover my learnings when setting up devices, as I found most of the other posts online didn’t cover the fixes I found!
What is Matter?
Matter helps to effortlessly connecting all your gadgets like never before, regardless of the brand. It’s a friendly, open-source standard that brings together lights, locks, thermostats, and more, making everything work together smoothly and securely. Its already been adopted by Apple, Google and Samsung, and looks to set the foundation for many home devices yet to come
What are the requirements to setup Matter devices with Unifi?
- IPv6-based Network: Your devices must be connected to an IP-based network, like Wi-Fi or Ethernet, for high-bandwidth needs. Matter requires the use of IPv6 for its network communications to ensure direct, end-to-end connectivity.
- Thread Network: Lower-power devices can use Thread, a low-power mesh network, for efficient communication. Thread also operates over IPv6, ensuring seamless integration within the Matter ecosystem.
- Border Router: A border router is required to connect Thread devices to your main IP network. The border router facilitates the transition between your local Thread network and wider IPv6 networks.
What are the challenges with a Unifi Network?
If, like many homelab users (and if you’ve followed along with any of our network setup posts), you have standardised on Unifi for your switches, routers and access points, the chances are you are also using VLANs to run you network. At our house, we have 5 separate VLANs, Trusted Clients, Services, IoT, Guest and Management (yes this is overkill).
As it stands today, Matter devices do not work well across VLANs. It may be technically possible to setup a “reflector” to achieve this, in my testing I found it hard to complete setup with devices across VLANs.
On top of this, some of Unifi’s implementation of mDNS causes issues with specific setup steps during the Matter provisioning process.
How to setup your network to support Matter devices
Based on the above I’ve found the following setup to be required.
- IPv6: Ensure you have IPv6 enabled in your Global network settings. I’ve found no specific IPv6 settings on each network / VLAN page is required.
- Multicast DNS Set to Off: Untick the “Multicast DNS” box. This was the main killer for me. Yes this will mean mDNS between VLANs will now be broken (which has required me to flatten my network), but until Unifi add official Matter support this is required.
Tomas McGuinness had a great guide here that helped me part of the way, however I’ve found in reality many / all of his recommended settings made no difference to my setup. My Wifi networks are both set to “Auto” and any changes to Multicast here made no difference.
How to troubleshoot pairing issues
Another useful tip I found as I was exploring Matter with Home Assistant was to understand where any steps were failing. As part of setting up Matter with Home Assistant you’ll need to add the “Matter Server” add on, and ensure its started.
Its under this Add On – specifically under the “Log” section that you’ll find a detail of how your devices are connecting and if they are failing on any particular steps. You can also increase the debug logs here on as well – should that help to troubleshoot the issue.
In conclusion, navigating the setup of Matter devices on a Unifi network posed its challenges, but I hope the workarounds detailed here will simplify the process for you as well. For more insights and detailed guides on enhancing your Smart Home experience, be sure to explore my other posts.