How to Connect Two Routers on a Home Network

Expand your home network with a second router

Blue cables plugged into network

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While most home computer networks use only one router, adding a second router makes sense in a few situations. A second router is used to upgrade a wired network to support wireless devices. An additional router can extend the wireless range of a home network to reach dead spots and to network a wired device that's too far away from the original router. In addition, a second router creates a separate subnetwork within a home to stream video among some devices without slowing down connections to others. Making it all work requires just a few steps.

Position a Second Router

When setting up a new router, place it near a Windows PC or another computer that can be used for the initial configuration. Both wired and wireless routers are best configured from a computer connected to the router with an Ethernet network cable. You can move the router to its permanent location later.

An illustration of how to position two wireless routers in a two-story home.
Lifewire / Nusha Ashjaee

Connect a Second Wired Router

A second (new) router that doesn't have wireless capability must be connected to the first (existing) router with an Ethernet cable. Plug one end of the cable into the new router's uplink port (sometimes labeled WAN or Internet). Plug the other end into any free port on the first router other than its uplink port.

Connect a Second Wireless Router

Home wireless routers can be connected using Ethernet cable in the same way as wired routers are connected. Connecting two home routers over wireless is also possible, but in most configurations, the second router can only function as a wireless access point instead of a router. The second router must be set up in client mode to utilize its full routing functionality, a mode that many home routers don't support. Consult the specific router model documentation to determine whether it supports client mode and, if so, how to configure it.

Wi-Fi Channel Settings for Wireless Home Routers

If both the existing and second routers are wireless, their Wi-Fi signals can interfere with each other, causing dropped connections and unpredictable network slowdowns. Each wireless router uses specific Wi-Fi frequency ranges called channels, and signal interference occurs when two wireless routers in the same house use the same or overlapping channels.

Wireless routers use different Wi-Fi channels by default depending on the model, but these settings can be changed in the router console. To avoid signal interference between two routers in a home, set the first router to use channel 1 or 6 and the second to use channel 11.

IP Address Configuration of a Second Router

Home network routers also have a default IP address setting depending on the model. The default IP settings of a second router do not require any change unless it is to be configured as a network switch or access point.

Use the Second Router as a Switch or Access Point

The above procedures enable an additional router to support a subnetwork within a home network. This maintains an extra level of control over specific devices, such as placing extra restrictions on their internet access.

Alternatively, a second router can be configured as an Ethernet network switch or — if wireless — an access point. This lets devices connect to the second router as usual but does not create a subnetwork. For households that want to extend basic internet access plus enable file and printer sharing to additional computers, a no-subnetwork setup is sufficient, but it requires a different configuration procedure than given above.

Configure a Second Router Without Subnetwork Support

To set up a new router as a network switch, plug an Ethernet cable into any free port of the second router other than the uplink port and connect it to any port of the first router other than the uplink port.

To set up a new wireless router as an access point, configure the device for either bridge or repeater mode linked to the first router. Consult the documentation for the second router for the specific settings to use.

For both wired and wireless routers, update the IP configuration:

  • Check the second router's local IP address and change it if necessary to ensure it is within the address range of the network as configured on the first router and doesn't conflict with other devices on the local network.
  • Set the DHCP address range of the second router to fit inside the address range of the first router. Alternatively, disable DHCP and manually set the IP address of each device connected to the second router to fall within the first router's range.