If you have a big house (or office), you may find it necessary to run two wireless routers (or more) to share the internet connection around efficiently. Although you can just plug in both routers and start using them, a bunch of little network problems caused by having two wireless routers will soon start to annoy you. There’s a simple alternative which this article describes. Previously we published an article about connecting two computers to one modem and now in this article we will be discussing what happens when you use two wireless routers in the same house or office.
Problems With Two Wireless Routers In The Same House
One of the main problems with having two wireless routers in the same house is that you need to switch connections as you move from one end of the house to the other. This causes several problems:
- If you don’t lose signal entirely, Windows won’t automatically switch networks, so you’ll probably spend most of your time stuck with the most distant router—totally wasting your investment in a second router.
- When you do switch routers, you’ll lose all existing connections. Webpages which were in the middle of loading will fail, Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections will terminate, network drives will be unmounted, voice or video chats may terminate. It’s a horrible inconvenience.
- Your IP address will be different on different routers, preventing other computers on your network from connecting to you for shared services like your shared music collection or shared documents.
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What You Need To Make Two Wireless Routers Work Together
Making two wireless routers work together isn’t hard, especially if you have the right equipment. But, even if you don’t, a little extra time and effort can make any two wireless routers work together perfectly.
The easiest network with two wireless routers will include at least one router with “client mode” support. This support will probably be indicated on the router’s packaging, almost certainly be listed in its manual, and absolutely be listed in its online administration screen. A quick search of Amazon.com for “router client” provides almost two dozen routers with client mode support.
The chief benefit of client mode support is that you don’t need to run any wires between the two routers. The second router simply broadcasts any communication between it and your laptop back to the main router for processing. There is a downside—the max speed of connections to the second router are half of the max speed of connections to the primary router. That’s because the second router needs to receive and transmit every byte to both you and the primary router.
It’s a little bit more difficult to set up, but you can also use ethernet wires to connect two wireless routers together. In this case, you can use any two routers and you don’t lose any speed.
Let’s look at the instructions for each type of setup:
Connecting Two Wireless Routers Using Client Mode
If only one of your routers supports client mode, than that will be your client and the other router will be your primary router. If both routers support client mode, then choose whichever router you want to be the client. Connect the primary router to your Internet modem and configure its security settings.
After the first router is configured, find a location for your client router. Although you might be tempted to put it as far away as possible, this is a bad idea—remember that the max speed of the client router will be half the max speed it has connecting the primary router. So if you put the client router somewhere where signal strength is 10%, then your max speed may only be 5% of your primary router’s max speed.
After you find a location, power on your client router and disconnect your laptop from the main wireless network. Then use an ethernet cord to connect to the client router. Read your manual to find out how to load its administration interface and then find the setting that lets you turn on client mode. The client mode setup will prompt your for any necessary security information and then connect to your primary router.
After the client router successfully connects, you need to change one more setting. Disable the client router’s internal Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. But be careful: you don’t want to prevent it from getting an IP address from the primary router. For example, on my router, the setting you would want to disable is called “Use Router as DHCP Server” and the setting you want to keep enabled is called “Get [Internet IP Address] Dynamically From ISP.”
That’s all it takes. Disconnect your laptop from the client router and re-enable wireless. You’ll only have one home network, but it will span the range of both routers.
Connecting Two Wireless Routers Using Bridging
With bridging, you can place your second router as far away from the first router as you want without any loss of speed—I’ve seen companies use this method to place hundreds of routers in dozens of buildings. The only catch is that you need to run an ethernet cord between the two locations. If you have an unfinished basement or attic, you may want to place each router at opposite ends of the room so they provide service throughout your house; otherwise you’ll need to run wires through the walls.
After you choose locations for your routers, connect your primary router to your Internet modem and configure its security settings. Then plug one end of an ethernet cord into one of the regular LAN ports on your primary router and plug the other end into the uplink port on your client router. Then turn on your client router.
In the next step you will need to access your routers IP address to change settings.
After the client router boots up, disconnect your laptop from the wireless network and use ethernet cord to connect to the client router. Log in to its administration interface (consult your manual for instructions) and make the following changes:
- Change the client router’s local IP address. On my router, this is on the WAN Setup page in the section labeled LAN TCP/IP Setup. Important: Write down the new IP address or you won’t be able to connect to the client router again. I suggest you change the forth decimal place to 254 on most routers (don’t change any of the first three decimal places).After you save this setting, the router administration interface will probably stop working. You’ll need to connect to the new IP address and log in again. For example, if the new IP address is “192.168.1.254”, you want to connect to
- Disable the client router’s DHCP server. But be careful: you don’t want to prevent it from getting an IP address from the primary router. For example, on my router, the setting you would want to disable is called “Use Router as DHCP Server” and the setting you want to keep enabled is called “Get [Internet IP Address] Dynamically From ISP.”
Make sure you save your settings changes, give them a few moments to fully save, and then put them into effect by restarting your router—pull out its electrical cord, count to five, and plug it back in. Then test your new two wireless routers and enjoy up to twice the coverage!
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