How to Setup Two Routers on the Same Network

If you have a large home or even just a large home network with lots of devices, adding a second router can not only better coverage both wired and wirelessly, but also improve overall performance. In this article, we’ll look at how to set up two routers on the same network, as well as some of the benefits and some alternatives you may want to consider.

Can Two Routers Be Set up on the Same Network?

Two, or even more if you wish, routers can absolutely be set up on the same home network.

A second router can be set up to act as a range extender, or it can be configured to share the same SSID as the primary router, meaning the devices on your network will connect to whichever router provides the stronger signal.

You may also like: 7 Best Wireless Routers for Lots of Devices: Buyer’s Guide

What Are the Benefits of Having Two Routers on the Same Network?

Setting up a dual-router home network comes with a number of benefits, including:

  • More connectivity for wired devices: It is likely that your primary router only has a limited number of LAN ports available to connect wired devices to it (five if you are lucky). Adding a second router immediately provides additional Ethernet ports that provide more devices with wired connectivity without the need for a network switch.
  • Better support for mixed wired/wireless setups: Having a second router is useful if you have a wired home network but also want to connect some Wi-Fi enabled devices. The routers can be separated in the sense that the wired devices will continue to connect to the primary router, whereas all of the wireless devices would connect to the secondary. This is particularly helpful if the wired devices are positioned at the other end of the home to the wireless devices.
  • Isolation for certain devices: If certain devices in your home utilize the network connection particularly heavily, dual routers can be set up to isolate certain devices and prevent a large amount of network traffic affecting the other devices. As an example, you may want to look at isolating a particular PC that frequently transfers large files or plays a lot of online games from a smart TV that is streaming video.
  • Improved wireless coverage: A second router can simply be used to extend an existing Wi-Fi connection, greatly improving the coverage in your home and providing even those far away devices with a stable wireless connection.
  • Backup device: It doesn’t hurt having a working backup router available in case one suddenly fails.

How to Set up Two Routers on the Same Network

Now you know the benefits of adding a second router to your home network, let’s take a look at how to actually set it up.

When it comes to connectivity between the two, you have a choice of a wired or wireless connection. We will cover both methods below, but in both cases, there are a few things that you need to consider and set up first.

Firstly, you need to decide which of the routers will be the primary and which will be the secondary. Ideally, you will pick the newer, fully-featured router to be the primary, but if you have two of the same router it doesn’t really matter which is which.

Next, place both of the routers close to the computer you will be using to configure them both. This is just for ease of access; both routers can be moved to their permanent location later.

Finally, you need to decide what you want to achieve from the second router as there are two different connection types you can setup: LAN-to-LAN or LAN-to-WAN.

  • LAN-to-LAN: This extends your existing network connection and SSID to include the second router. LAN-to-LAN connectivity allows you to share files between devices regardless of which router they connect to.
  • LAN-to-WAN: Creates a second network within the main network which allows you to place restrictions on any devices that connect to it and therefore is a good idea if you wish to isolate certain devices. A LAN-to-WAN setup doesn’t support the sharing of files across the two separate networks.

Got all that sorted? Let’s move on to performing the setup.

Related article: What Is the WAN Port on My Router For?

Setting up a Second Router Using Ethernet

1. Connecting to the Primary Router

First things first, we need to perform the initial setup on the primary router. Make sure the router is first connected to your modem via an Ethernet cable, then connect the computer you are using to the router using another Ethernet cable.

Some Windows PCs and Macs will no longer come with a built-in Ethernet port, so you may need to purchase either an Ethernet to USB adapter to make that wired connection.

2. Logging in to the Primary Router

This primary router will be taking control of the connection to the Internet through the modem and should be set up as if it were the only router in the home.

You’ll need to access the router’s web interface which is typically done by entering the router’s IP address into the URL bar of your web browser and then logging in.

Unless you have previously changed the username and password to access the router, which is recommended for security purposes, the router will often ship with a card containing these credentials.

Remember that the settings of each router can vary drastically depending on the manufacturer and model. If you ever get stuck finding a particular setting, it is recommended that you consult the router’s manual or the support section on the manufacturer’s website.

3. Change the DHCP Settings

If you have decided on setting up a LAN-to-LAN network, you can skip over this step as the DHCP settings can be left as they are.

If setting up a LAN-to-WAN network, you will need to set the DHCP to provide addresses between 192.168.1.2 and 192.168.1.50.

Once these changes have been saved, log out of the router and disconnect your computer from it. That is all of the work completed on the primary router.

DHCP range on router

4. Configuring the Second Router

Connect and login to the second router as you did with the first and navigate to the screen that allows you to set the IP address of the router itself.

What you set the IP address to is important depending on whether you are going LAN-to-LAN or LAN-to-WAN

  • LAN-to-LAN: Change the IP address to match that of the primary router, but increase the second-to-last digit by one. So if the primary router has an IP address of 192.168.1.1, the second router needs to use 192.168.2.1.
  • LAN-to-WAN: Change the IP address to 192.168.1.51. Notice this is just outside of the DHCP range we set up on the primary router.

Once the IP address is set, just make sure that the subnet mask matches that of the primary router and that you disable UPnP if the option is there.

Router IP Address

5. Configuring DHCP on the Second Router

Again, this step is different depending on whether you are setting up LAN-to-LAN or LAN-to-WAN.

  • LAN-to-LAN: Turn off the DHCP service completely
  • LAN-to-WAN: Change the DHCP to provide addresses between 192.168.2.2 and 192.168.2.50

6. Change the Wireless Channels

If both of your routers are wireless, as most are these days, you will need to manually change the channels so the two signals don’t interfere with one another. This is easily done by setting the primary router to use any channel between 1 and 6 and then setting the second router to use channel 11.

Wireless Channel on Router

7. Position the Routers

So that’s all of the configuration work on both routers done. Make sure to save changes, log out and disconnect the router from your computer as it is now time to place both routers where you need them.

Just remember, you will need to use an Ethernet cable to connect the two together.

For convenience and so you don’t have more wires than needed trailing around your home, you may want to place the primary router next to the modem if you are using one that is a separate device.

8. Connect the Routers

Regardless of which network setup you are using, the routers need to connect to each other, but the port you must use will differ.

  • LAN-to-LAN: Plug one end of the Ethernet cable into one of the available LAN ports on the back of the primary router, and then plug the other end into an available LAN port on the back of the second router.
  • LAN-to-WAN: Plug one end of the Ethernet cable into one of the available LAN ports on the back of the primary router, and then plug the other end into the WAN port (may be labeled as “Internet”) on the back of the second router.

Once connected, you have successfully connected to a second router to your home network using a wired connection.

Setting up a Second Router Using Wireless

1. Is Your Equipment Even Compatible?

Before going down the route of setting up the second router wirelessly, you will first make sure that it is even possible using the equipment you have.

Most wireless routers can be used as a wireless access point or range extender, however, not all can be used to create their own network within the primary router’s network.

You must ensure that your secondary router has a “bridge” or “repeater” mode.

If you are unsure, check the manual that came with the router or check on the manufacturer’s website.

2. Connecting to the Primary Router

If you haven’t already, you will need to perform the initial setup on the primary router. Make sure the router is first connected to your modem via an Ethernet cable if you have one, then connect the computer you are using to the router using a separate Ethernet cable.

Some Windows PCs and Macs will no longer come with a built-in Ethernet port, so you may need to purchase either an Ethernet to USB adapter to make that wired connection.

3. Logging Into the Primary Router

This primary router will be taking control of the connection to the Internet through the modem and should be set up as if it were the only router in the home.

You’ll need to access the router’s web interface which is typically done by entering the router’s IP address into the URL bar of your web browser and then logging in.

Unless you have previously changed the username and password to access the router, which is recommended for security purposes, the router will often ship with a card containing these credentials.

Remember that the settings of each router can vary drastically depending on the manufacturer and model. If you ever get stuck finding a particular setting, it is recommended that you consult the router’s manual or the support section on the manufacturer’s website.

Once you have completed the initial setup, you can log out and disconnect from the router as we won’t need to connect to the primary again.

4. Logging Into the Second Router

Now it is time to connect the second router to your computer using an Ethernet cable, logging in and opening the configuration page.

You will need to browse to a setup page that is likely to be called either “Internet” or “Wireless”.

The router does not need to connect to the modem (if you have one as a separate device) at this stage.

5. Enable Bridge Mode

Within the setup page, you are looking for “Network Mode” under “Connection Type” or “Wireless Mode”.

Select “Bridge Mode” or “Repeater Mode” depending on the model of your router (both mean the same thing).

If you do not see this option, it is likely that the router doesn’t support bridging and you will therefore either purchase a router that does or connect the two routers over Ethernet as described above.

6. Set the Second Router’s IP Address

The IP address of the second router must be set to fall within the DHCP range of the primary router.

For example, if the primary router has a DHCP range of 192.168.1.2 to 192.168.1.50, you will need to set the second router’s IP address to be anything in between.

Whilst configuring the IP address, make sure the subnet mask matches that of the primary router.

7. Give the Second Router a Unique Name

It is recommended that you give the second router a unique name so it is clear which router you are connecting to when joining your devices to the network.

You may want to name both routers depending on the position of them in your home, but it really doesn’t matter what name you choose.

Make sure both routers are set to use WPA2 which is likely to be the case out of the box.

You may also want to make sure both are set to use the same password for ease of use; just make sure it is something secure that cannot be easily guessed to help avoid any unauthorized access.

How to change the name of a router

8. Position the Second Router

The configuration of the second router is now complete, so you can place it in an area of your home where you want it to repeat the signal provided by the primary router.

For a good connection between the routers to be maintained, it is recommended that the second router is placed where it receives at least 50% of the signal strength from the primary router, but the higher the better.

If there is a direct line-of-sight between both routers, you should find the second router receives the strongest signal compared to any walls being in the way.

Alternatives to Setting up a Second Router

Setting up a second router on your home network is relatively easy, but there are a few alternatives that will achieve the same result of extending your network, but without any router, IP address or DHCP configuration being needed.

You may want to instead look at adding a network switch instead of a second router. Switches come vary in terms of the number of available Ethernet ports they can add to your network and the type: managed or unmanaged.

For a Wi-Fi network, you may want to consider simply adding a wireless access point rather than an additional router. These can help extend wireless coverage throughout your home and only use a single LAN port on your primary router.

Glossary

We mentioned several technical terms in this article, many of which are abbreviated, so here is a brief description of each to better your understanding of these commonly found terms you’ll undoubtedly come across when designing and building your home network.

  • LAN (Local Area Network): A local network that allows the devices connected to it to communicate with each other.
  • WAN (Wide Area Network): A network that connects multiple LANs with each other.
  • SSID (Service Set Identifier): The name of a Wi-Fi network.
  • LAN-to-LAN: Extends an existing network connection and SSID to a second router.
  • LAN-to-WAN: Creates a second network within a primary network.
  • IP Address (Internet Protocol Address): Numerical label assigned to each device connected to your network.
  • DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol): Dynamically assigns an IP address to each device connected to your network.
  • Subnet Mask: Masks an IP address and divides it into a network address and a host address.
  • UPnP (Universal Plug and Play): Permits devices to seamlessly discover each other’s presence on a network.
  • WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II): A type of encryption to secure Wi-Fi networks.