We all know that Wi-Fi can be patchy at times and isn’t exactly the most reliable thing. Luckily, there are a few ways to mediate this issue: adding a Wi-Fi extender or repurposing old hardware. You probably have an old router sitting in your closet somewhere, and while you could throw it out, you could use it as a Wi-Fi extender instead. It’ll save you a couple of bucks and give better performance than a Wi-Fi extender, too.
Despite the simplistic setup for a Wi-Fi extender, its simplicity comes at a cost—performance. A way to mediate the issue is by reducing latency and adding another router to the network.
What Is the Benefit of Connecting Two Routers?
Although adding a Wi-Fi extender is typically easier, the results from adding another router speak for themselves. Performance-wise, adding another router to an existing one is better than any Wi-Fi extender, as it’s hardwired via an Ethernet connection.
While Wi-Fi extenders receive packets from your router and retransmit them into a signal your devices can use, the performance of wired over wireless is unmatched, further justifying this simple trick. A successful install will consist of recycling old electronics and boosting your Wi-Fi signal, and here’s how you do it.
To complete this installation, you will need a few parts and access to a few things. Luckily, you probably own most of these things in your household. If not, just about any department store will have these in stock.
- Primary router
- A second router
- Ethernet cable (to the length desired)
- Access to a computer
- Internet connection
Ethernet cables are only effective up to a certain distance and can only provide up to certain speeds. This is dependent on the Ethernet cable’s length and what type of cable it is, ranging from Cat 1 to Cat 8.
How to Access Your Primary Router
Your primary router is where most of the setup takes place and allows the secondary router to receive an internet connection from the primary one. Regardless of the type or brand of router you have, you must log in to your router setup page.
Input your router’s IP address in your browser address bar and press Enter. Unsure what your router IP address is? Learn how to find your router IP address, then head back to this article. Regardless of the operating system, your router IP address will remain the same as your Internet Service Provider issues the IP address.
For example, to find your router IP address on Windows:
- Input Network Status in the Start menu search bar and select the Best Match.
- Next, select View hardware and connection properties.
- Locate the Default Gateway, alongside which you’ll find your router’s IP address.
The alternative is signing onto your service provider’s website and altering your settings this way. Typing the default gateway IP address into your browser will also bring you to your service provider’s website, where you can achieve the same things. Regardless of your configuration, some things need to be set up for this system to work properly.
Setting up the Primary Router
For your secondary router to act as an extender, you must set up a few things on your primary router to make it work. After typing in the default gateway IP into your browser, a screen will prompt you to enter your user name and password. Typically, this stays defaulted, and logging in can be as simple as typing in “admin” for the password prompt. Regardless of whether this is your first time logging in, the default router information can be found online or in the owner’s manual.
As mentioned, typing in the default gateway IP address will often take you to your service provider’s Services page, allowing you to accomplish the same things. You won’t be logging in with default information, as you have something set up already with an existing service provider.
After this, click the DHCP Server checkbox on your primary router, though this should default on. This completes the installation on the primary router side of things. Route the Ethernet cable as necessary behind furniture, underneath carpeting, or through the drywall to the desired location of your secondary router, but do not connect the two, yet.
Setting up the Secondary Router
The first half of the installation is complete, leaving you with the second half. However, before accessing the internet on your secondary router, you must connect to the secondary router to set things up accordingly. Similar to the steps before, you can do this by plugging one end of an Ethernet cable into your computer and one into the secondary router. Then, following the same steps as the primary router, locate where it says DHCP Server in the router settings. This must be disabled on the secondary router to prevent IP address issues.
After deselecting the DCHP Server checkbox on your secondary router, disconnect the Ethernet cable to the secondary router from your computer and perform a system restart on both networks. Start by connecting your primary network first, and verify that it is fully operational.
Locate the Ethernet cable from the primary router, then place the secondary router in the desired location. Ideally, this should be placed where the internet is patchy or there isn’t as much signal. The Ethernet cable from the primary router should plug into an Ethernet port on the secondary router, allowing it to get an internet connection from your primary router.
Testing Your Internet Connection
At this point in the installation, you should be able to connect to both routers as separate entities, both wirelessly and via the WLAN ports. This should be way more effective than using a Wi-Fi extender, as latency is decreased and the simple dominance of wired connections versus its counterpart.
If the secondary router isn’t working, double-check your settings and perform a system restart. You can do this by disconnecting the power to the appliances for roughly 30 seconds. When fully operational, both routers will emit a Wi-Fi signal even in the patchiest spots from before!
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