How to Connect Two Routers on a Home Network

Expand your home network with a second router

What to Know

  • Position the second router near a Windows PC for the setup. (You can move it later.) Connect the two routers using an Ethernet cable.
  • If both routers are wireless and will support a subnetwork, set the first router to channel 1 or 6 and the second to channel 11.
  • Alternatively, set up the new router as a switch or access point by connecting the routers and updating the IP configuration.

This article explains how to connect two routers on a home network to extend the range of a network and support more wireless devices or serve as an access point or switch.

Position a Second Router

While most home computer networks use only one router, adding a second router makes sense in a few situations. A second router upgrades a wired network to support a larger number of wireless devices. It extends the wireless range of a home network to reach dead spots or network a wired device that's too far away from the original router.

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.

When you set up a new router, place it near a Windows PC or another computer that you can use for the initial configuration. Both wired and wireless routers are best configured from a computer connected with an Ethernet network cable to the router. 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

If the second router doesn't have wireless capability, you must connect it to the first 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 the second router can only function as a wireless access point instead of a router in most configurations.

You must set up the second router 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 you can change these settings in the router console. To avoid signal interference between two routers in a home, set the first router to channel 1 or 6 and the second to channel 11.

IP Address Configuration of a Second Router

Home network routers also use 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 approach maintains extra control over specific devices, such as placing further restrictions on their internet access.

Alternatively, a second router can be configured as an Ethernet network switch or—if wireless—an access point. This arrangement lets devices connect to the second router as usual but does not create a subnetwork. A no-subnetwork setup is sufficient for households that want to extend basic internet access plus enable file-and-printer sharing to additional computers. However, 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. Then connect it to any port in 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 network's address range 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.
  • How do I connect a router to a modem?

    To connect a router to a modem, plug one end of an Ethernet cable into your modem and the other end into the router's WAN port. On your computer, find your router's network name and connect to it via the Wi-Fi network key. Next, enter your router's IP address into a browser to configure router settings.

  • How do I connect a router to the internet?

    To connect a router to the internet, connect your modem to the wall outlet via a coaxial or fiber-optic cable. Plug the Ethernet cable into the WAN/uplink port on your router, and insert the other end into the modem's Ethernet port. Plug in the power supply for both devices and wait for the lights to turn on.

  • How do I connect a printer to a Wi-Fi router?

    Confirm your router's wireless network is functioning, and note the router's password. Turn on the printer and access its networking settings. In Wi-Fi settings, select the router's SSID and enter the Wi-Fi password. The printer will connect to the Wi-Fi network.

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