How to Set an ESP32 Access Point (AP) for Web Server

The ESP32 can act as a Wi-Fi station, as an access point, or both. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to set the ESP32 as an access point using Arduino IDE.

In most projects with the ESP32, we connect the ESP32 to a wireless router (see our ESP32 web server tutorial). This way we can access the ESP32 through the local network.

In this situation the router acts as an access point and the ESP32 is set as a station. In this scenario, you need to be connected to your router (local network) to control the ESP32.

But if you set the ESP32 as an access point (hotspot), you can be connected to the ESP32 using any device with Wi-Fi capabilities without the need to connect to your router.

In simple words, when you set the ESP32 as an access point you create its own Wi-Fi network and nearby Wi-Fi devices (stations) can connect to it (like your smartphone or your computer).

Here we’ll show you how to set the ESP32 as an access point in your web server projects. This way, you don’t need to be connected to a router to control your ESP32. Because the ESP32 doesn’t connect further to a wired network (like your router), it is called soft-AP (soft Access Point).

Installing the ESP32 board in Arduino IDE

There’s an add-on for the Arduino IDE that allows you to program the ESP32 using the Arduino IDE and its programming language. Follow one of the following tutorials to prepare your Arduino IDE:

ESP32 Access Point

In this example, we’ll modify an ESP32 Web Server from a previous tutorial to add access point capabilities. What we’ll show you here can be used with any ESP32 web server example.

Upload the sketch provided below to set the ESP32 as an access point.

/*********
  Rui Santos
  Complete project details at https://randomnerdtutorials.com  
*********/

// Load Wi-Fi library
#include <WiFi.h>

// Replace with your network credentials
const char* ssid     = "ESP32-Access-Point";
const char* password = "123456789";

// Set web server port number to 80
WiFiServer server(80);

// Variable to store the HTTP request
String header;

// Auxiliar variables to store the current output state
String output26State = "off";
String output27State = "off";

// Assign output variables to GPIO pins
const int output26 = 26;
const int output27 = 27;

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(115200);
  // Initialize the output variables as outputs
  pinMode(output26, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(output27, OUTPUT);
  // Set outputs to LOW
  digitalWrite(output26, LOW);
  digitalWrite(output27, LOW);

  // Connect to Wi-Fi network with SSID and password
  Serial.print("Setting AP (Access Point)…");
  // Remove the password parameter, if you want the AP (Access Point) to be open
  WiFi.softAP(ssid, password);

  IPAddress IP = WiFi.softAPIP();
  Serial.print("AP IP address: ");
  Serial.println(IP);
  
  server.begin();
}

void loop(){
  WiFiClient client = server.available();   // Listen for incoming clients

  if (client) {                             // If a new client connects,
    Serial.println("New Client.");          // print a message out in the serial port
    String currentLine = "";                // make a String to hold incoming data from the client
    while (client.connected()) {            // loop while the client's connected
      if (client.available()) {             // if there's bytes to read from the client,
        char c = client.read();             // read a byte, then
        Serial.write(c);                    // print it out the serial monitor
        header += c;
        if (c == '\n') {                    // if the byte is a newline character
          // if the current line is blank, you got two newline characters in a row.
          // that's the end of the client HTTP request, so send a response:
          if (currentLine.length() == 0) {
            // HTTP headers always start with a response code (e.g. HTTP/1.1 200 OK)
            // and a content-type so the client knows what's coming, then a blank line:
            client.println("HTTP/1.1 200 OK");
            client.println("Content-type:text/html");
            client.println("Connection: close");
            client.println();
            
            // turns the GPIOs on and off
            if (header.indexOf("GET /26/on") >= 0) {
              Serial.println("GPIO 26 on");
              output26State = "on";
              digitalWrite(output26, HIGH);
            } else if (header.indexOf("GET /26/off") >= 0) {
              Serial.println("GPIO 26 off");
              output26State = "off";
              digitalWrite(output26, LOW);
            } else if (header.indexOf("GET /27/on") >= 0) {
              Serial.println("GPIO 27 on");
              output27State = "on";
              digitalWrite(output27, HIGH);
            } else if (header.indexOf("GET /27/off") >= 0) {
              Serial.println("GPIO 27 off");
              output27State = "off";
              digitalWrite(output27, LOW);
            }
            
            // Display the HTML web page
            client.println("<!DOCTYPE html><html>");
            client.println("<head><meta name=\"viewport\" content=\"width=device-width, initial-scale=1\">");
            client.println("<link rel=\"icon\" href=\"data:,\">");
            // CSS to style the on/off buttons 
            // Feel free to change the background-color and font-size attributes to fit your preferences
            client.println("<style>html { font-family: Helvetica; display: inline-block; margin: 0px auto; text-align: center;}");
            client.println(".button { background-color: #4CAF50; border: none; color: white; padding: 16px 40px;");
            client.println("text-decoration: none; font-size: 30px; margin: 2px; cursor: pointer;}");
            client.println(".button2 {background-color: #555555;}</style></head>");
            
            // Web Page Heading
            client.println("<body><h1>ESP32 Web Server</h1>");
            
            // Display current state, and ON/OFF buttons for GPIO 26  
            client.println("<p>GPIO 26 - State " + output26State + "</p>");
            // If the output26State is off, it displays the ON button       
            if (output26State=="off") {
              client.println("<p><a href=\"/26/on\"><button class=\"button\">ON</button></a></p>");
            } else {
              client.println("<p><a href=\"/26/off\"><button class=\"button button2\">OFF</button></a></p>");
            } 
               
            // Display current state, and ON/OFF buttons for GPIO 27  
            client.println("<p>GPIO 27 - State " + output27State + "</p>");
            // If the output27State is off, it displays the ON button       
            if (output27State=="off") {
              client.println("<p><a href=\"/27/on\"><button class=\"button\">ON</button></a></p>");
            } else {
              client.println("<p><a href=\"/27/off\"><button class=\"button button2\">OFF</button></a></p>");
            }
            client.println("</body></html>");
            
            // The HTTP response ends with another blank line
            client.println();
            // Break out of the while loop
            break;
          } else { // if you got a newline, then clear currentLine
            currentLine = "";
          }
        } else if (c != '\r') {  // if you got anything else but a carriage return character,
          currentLine += c;      // add it to the end of the currentLine
        }
      }
    }
    // Clear the header variable
    header = "";
    // Close the connection
    client.stop();
    Serial.println("Client disconnected.");
    Serial.println("");
  }
}

View raw code

Customize the SSID and Password

You need to define a SSID name and a password to access the ESP32. In this example we’re setting the ESP32 SSID name to ESP32-Access-Point, but you can modify the name to whatever you want. The password is 123456789, but you can also modify it.

// You can customize the SSID name and change the password
const char* ssid = "ESP32-Access-Point";
const char* password = "123456789";

Setting the ESP32 as an Access Point

There’s a section in the setup() to set the ESP32 as an access point using the softAP() method:

WiFi.softAP(ssid, password);

There are also other optional parameters you can pass to the softAP() method. Here’s all the parameters:

.softAP(const char* ssid, const char* password, int channel, int ssid_hidden, int max_connection)
  • SSID (defined earlier): maximum of 63 characters;
  • password(defined earlier): minimum of 8 characters; set to NULL if you want the access point to be open
  • channel: Wi-Fi channel number (1-13)
  • ssid_hidden: (0 = broadcast SSID, 1 = hide SSID)
  • max_connection: maximum simultaneous connected clients (1-4)

Next, we need to get the access point IP address using the softAPIP() method and print it in the Serial Monitor.

IPAddress IP = WiFi.softAPIP();
Serial.print("AP IP address: ");
Serial.println(IP);

These are the snippets of code you need to include in your web server sketches to set the ESP32 as an access point. To learn how the full web server code works, take a look at the ESP32 Web Server tutorial.

Parts Required

For this tutorial you’ll need the following parts:

You can use the preceding links or go directly to MakerAdvisor.com/tools to find all the parts for your projects at the best price!

Schematic

Start by building the circuit. Connect two LEDs to the ESP32 as shown in the following schematic diagram – one LED connected to GPIO 26, and the other to GPIO 27.

Note: We’re using the ESP32 DEVKIT DOIT board with 36 pins. Before assembling the circuit, make sure you check the pinout for the board you’re using.

ESP32 IP Address

Upload the code to your ESP32 (make sure you have the right board and COM port selected). Open the Serial Monitor at a baud rate of 115200. Press the ESP32 “Enable” button.

The IP address you need to access the ESP32 point will be printed. In this case, it is 192.168.4.1.

Connecting to the ESP32 Access Point

Having the ESP32 running the new sketch, in your smartphone open your Wi-Fi settings and tap the ESP32-Access-Point network:

Enter the password you’ve defined earlier in the code.

Open your web browser and type the IP address 192.168.4.1. The web server page should load:

To connect to the access point on your computer, go to the Network and Internet Settings and select the “ESP32-Access-Point“.

Insert the password you’ve defined earlier.

And it’s done! Now, to access the ESP32 web server page, you just need to type the ESP32 IP address on your browser.

Wrapping Up

This simple tutorial showed you how to set the ESP32 as an access point on your web server sketches. When the ESP32 is set as an access point, devices with Wi-Fi capabilities can connect directly to the ESP32 without the need to connect to a router.

You may also like reading:

We hope you’ve found this tutorial useful. If you like ESP32 and you want to learn more, we recommend enrolling in Learn ESP32 with Arduino IDE course.

Thanks for reading.


Learn how to program and build projects with the ESP32 and ESP8266 using MicroPython firmware DOWNLOAD »

Learn how to program and build projects with the ESP32 and ESP8266 using MicroPython firmware DOWNLOAD »


Enjoyed this project? Stay updated by subscribing our weekly newsletter!

34 thoughts on “How to Set an ESP32 Access Point (AP) for Web Server”

  1. Hi Sara hi Rui,
    Thank you very much for your last posts about esp32.
    I’m a bit lost in “Wifi libraries”.
    My question : For Arduino, Esp8266 or ESP32, is it the same wifi.h library ?
    I tried to find an answer in you different posts but it seems not to be precisely indicated.
    Best regards

    • Hi Gabriel.
      With the ESP32 and Arduino we use the WiFi.h library. However, those libraries are different for the ESP32 and ESP8266. If you’re having trouble compiling ESP32 code that uses the WiFi.h library, you must remove the Arduino WiFi library from your Arduino IDE installation.
      The ESP8266 uses the ESP8266WiFi.h library.
      Regards,
      Sara 🙂

  2. It’s the “max_connection” limitation of. “1-4” that puts this outside the range of being really useful.

    The Raspberry Pi will get to about 30 and then begin throttling back.

    For just a home Website, it might be useful, I suppose.

  3. Ciao, e complimenti per l’articolo che trovo particolarmente interessante.
    Ho modificato il codice adattandolo a una scheda diversa, e più precisamente NodeMcu Lolin V.3, ma quando cerco di caricare il codice mi dà questo errore. Mi aiuteresti a capire il problema?

    Hello, and congratulations for the article that I find particularly interesting.
    I modified the code by adapting it to a different card, and more specifically NodeMcu Lolin V.3, but when I try to load the code it gives me this error. Would you help me to understand the problem?

    C:\Users\miche\Documents\Arduino\Rui_Santos_AP_Server_Modificato\Rui_Santos_AP_Server_Modificato.ino: In function ‘void setup()’:

    Rui_Santos_AP_Server_Modificato:44: error: ‘class WiFiClass’ has no member named ‘softAP’

    WiFi.softAP(ssid, password);

    ^

    Rui_Santos_AP_Server_Modificato:46: error: ‘class WiFiClass’ has no member named ‘softAP’

    IPAddress IP = WiFi.softAP();

    ^

    Uso la libreria WiFi alla versione 1.2.7 nella cartella: C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\ArduinoLLC.ArduinoIDE_1.8.10.0_x86__mdqgnx93n4wtt\libraries\WiFi
    Uso la libreria SPI alla versione 1.0 nella cartella: C:\Users\miche\Documents\ArduinoData\packages\esp8266\hardware\esp8266\2.4.0\libraries\SPI
    exit status 1
    ‘class WiFiClass’ has no member named ‘softAP’

    • Hi.
      I think you’re not using the right WiFi library. It seems your code is using the ESP8266 wifi library instead of the ESP32.
      Also, make sure you’re selecting the right board when you’re trying to upload code.
      Can you re-install the ESP32 add-on on your Arduino IDE?
      https://randomnerdtutorials.com/installing-the-esp32-board-in-arduino-ide-windows-instructions/
      Also, make sure you have the latest version of the Arduino IDE.
      I hope this helps.

      • Ciao, e grazie per la risposta.
        Ieri ho aggiornato il mio IDE e installato il componente aggiuntivo ESP32, ma sembra di capire che le librerie vengono richiamate automaticamente dal codice in base alla scheda selezionata, e la mia scheda non è un ESP32 ma una NodeMcu (8266, giusto?) forse il problema è la scheda. Lo sketch è ottimizzato per ESP32 ma la mia scheda non lo è. Chiedo se altri hanno avuto il mio stesso problema, e se lo hanno risolto, magari modificando il codice.

        Hello and thanks for the reply. Yesterday I updated my IDE and installed the ESP32 add-on, but it seems to understand that the libraries are automatically recalled by the code according to the selected card, and my card is not an ESP32 but a NodeMcu (8266, right?) Maybe the problem is the card. The sketch is optimized for ESP32 but my card is not. I ask if others have had the same problem, and if they have solved it, maybe by changing the code.

  4. Ciao Sara, grazie infinite. È come temevo, il codice qui descritto non va bene per la mia scheda.
    Appena posso uso il codice da te indicato e ti faccio sapere.
    Grazie ancora, a presto.

    • Good luck with your project! I hope you make it work.
      P.S. Next time, try to post your questions in english, so that everyone is able to understand.
      Thanks.
      Regards,
      Sara 🙂

  5. Hello Sara, I just wanted to apologize to you and everyone in the forum for posting my last questions in my mother tongue rather than in English. Unfortunately for my distraction I did not think to do the translation before publishing them.
    I hope I did not create inconvenience to those who followed these posts.
    Thank you again for your availability, I offer my regards.
    Michele

    • Hi.
      You have to insert the following lines in your code to give your ESP32 network a name, and a password. It can be whatever you want.
      const char* ssid = “ESP32-Access-Point”;
      const char* password = “123456789”;
      Then, set the access point with the following line:
      WiFi.softAP(ssid, password);
      And get the IP address with the following:
      IPAddress IP = WiFi.softAPIP();
      Serial.print(“AP IP address: “);
      Serial.println(IP);
      Everything is explained in the tutorial.
      Regards,
      Sara 🙂

  6. Hi guys, just want to say a great tutorial. I have a Heltec ESP32 with OLED display and have the web server up and running in both AP and STA modes. Works like a treat. I have the OLED display the text status of 3 of the output pins (one of which is the on-board LED Pin25).
    I have added a third button which was very easy. Also changed the size & colour of the buttons.
    Great stuff!!

    • Hi Musi,
      When the ESP32 is set as an access point, when you connect your smartphone to the ESP32, you are connected to the ESP32 network.
      So, you can’t access apps that require data network.
      Regards,
      Sara 🙂

  7. Thank your for a very thorough tutorial.
    I am having problems getting it to work on IOS devices. I works fine on Win 10 and Android devices. If I try to connect with a IOS 12 phone it wont connect and in the device ip address it does not list the expected 192.168.4.1 address. If I modify the source code to not pass the password parameter. IE an open network it connects as expected. I have tried similar examples from other sites and they produce similar results.
    I would be grateful if you could give me any help as how to proceed with debugging the problem. I am using esp32 and using the code you supply.

    • Hi Chris.
      That’s very weird and I have no idea why that is happening.
      It may be something related with your phone.
      Other people reported issues about connecting with other phones, but I don’t know what the reason is.
      I’ve searched on the internet and haven’t found a clear answer.
      I found this issue on the forum, but it doesn’t have an answer yet: github.com/espressif/arduino-esp32/issues/2242
      It is a problem similar to yours.
      Sorry that I can’t help much.
      Regards,
      Sara

      • My understanding (which could be wrong) is that iOS, and some other phones, won’t connect unless there is an onward connection to the Internet.

        This has caused me unresolved problems with Raspberry Pi based devices.

  8. Thanks any way for taking the time to reply. It seems it may be a problem with IOS rather than the ESP side of things. If I find an answer I will let you know 🙂

    Thanks again for a very informative site.

    Regards from Chris.

  9. Greetings;

    I’m still understanding the code and procedures.
    1 Question: Is it possible to configure Wifi Encryption?

    Something like:

    byte encryption = 2;

    TKIP (WPA) = 2
    // WEP = 5
    // CCMP (WPA) = 4
    // NONE = 7
    // AUTO = 8

    Both WiFi and WiFiAp classes dont have a way to set this; but I’ve read that it is possible.
    Thanks in advance.

  10. Hi Sara, thanks for all your tutorials on this website, they are very clear and well done!

    After setting my ESP32 as an access point, can I send data from this one?
    I mean I’d like to send the data from a sensor connected to my ESP32 and reading them on my phone or tablet.

    Thanks.

    Bryan

    • Hi Bryan.
      Yes, you can do that. It works like any other web server we have in our tutorials. But instead of connecting to your local network to get the readings, you connect to the ESP32 access point.
      Regards,
      Sara

  11. O was trying to set an esp32 cam as an access point, so i could see the vídeo stream, with no need to connect to the router…but no luck yet…maybe you guys could lend a hand😉

      • Well..the main problem are my poor programing skills…😣
        Appart from that i’m trying to make a sort of a standalone WiFi câmera on the cheap…that you could hide in common everyday objects…and that could be accessed on and Android phone..wich could store the stream if wanted..
        .it seems a good project for the esp32 and android app development…
        Are you interested in helping

Leave a Comment

Download our Free eBooks and Resources

Get instant access to our FREE eBooks, Resources, and Exclusive Electronics Projects by entering your email address below.