Find and fix Wi-Fi problems, extend range and increase internet speed with our complete guide for your wireless network
How to use two routers to extend wireless range
Using two routers is often the best solution to poor wireless, giving you a seamless and quick way to extend Wi-Fi range. If you’ve gone down the HomePlug wireless access point route, the instructions here are similar, but check your product’s manual for full instructions and how to configure it.
STEP 1 – Connect to your primary router
Connect to your primary router’s (the one connected to broadband) web-based management page and navigate to the DHCP settings, which are most likely under the LAN settings. DHCP is the protocol that deals with network addresses for connecting devices, as each one must have its own unique IP address. An IP address is made up of four numbers separated by full stops, such as 192.168.0.2.
The DHCP server information will tell you the first address that is handed out, such as 192.168.0.2. It will then either tell you the last address, such as 192.168.0.100, or the number of addresses it hands out. For the latter, you add the number of addresses to the last number of the starting address to get the end address. If the number of addresses was 100 and the starting address was 192.168.0.2 the last address would be 192.168.0.102.
You need to note down an IP address that falls outside of this range and is not the same as your router’s IP address. This means keeping the first three numbers the same, such as 192.168.0, and picking the final number, which can be between 1 and 254. In both of our examples above, 192.168.0.200 would do the job.
Step 2 – Configure the new router
Next turn on your new router, but don’t connect it in any way to your existing router. Instead, plug a computer into the new router via Ethernet and visit its web management page.
Look out for the router’s IP address setting. This must be for the LAN interface, not the WAN interface, which is for the internet: the two addresses are separate and not related. Change the router’s IP address to the one that you found was safe in Step 1 of this guide (192.168.0.200 in our example). Your router may restart. If it does, you’ll need to connect to its web-based management page again, this time typing the router’s new IP address into your browser.
If your computer won’t connect, it’s possible that it’s still holding on to an old IP address, so you’ll need to make it refresh its settings. The easiest way to do that is to unplug the Ethernet cable from your computer and plug-it in again. Once you’re connected to your router again, find the DHCP page and select Disable. Click Save to apply the changes. You’ll most likely be disconnected from the router, but that’s fine for now.
STEP 3 – Connect the two routers together
Disconnect your computer from your new router, as it’s time to connect it to your broadband router. You can either do this step using an Ethernet cable, or you can use HomePlug between them: both do the same job. Plug one end of an Ethernet cable into a spare Ethernet port on your broadband-connected router. Plug the other end into a spare Ethernet port on your new router: not the WAN port, as this will not work.
If you’re using HomePlug, you’ll need two Ethernet cables: one from the new router to a HomePlug adaptor, and one from a HomePlug adaptor to the old internet-connected router.
STEP 4 – Configure both routers to use the same Wi-Fi network
Connect wirelessly to your home network, as you would normally. Get up a browser and type in your new router’s IP address to access its web-based management. Go to the wireless settings and input the same network name and security settings as for your existing wireless network. Make sure you pick a new channel that doesn’t overlap with the existing network’s channel (this is for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks) and that you’ve configured both routers to use optimal settings, as per our 2.4GHz and 5GHz guides. Save the settings. You’ve now got one big wireless network, with excellent range and throughputs.