Setting Up Wireless Routers With the Same SSID

Using two routers requires a specific setup.
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Using two routers, each of which can provide coverage over a specific area, can extend the total wireless coverage available in your home, something that can be particularly useful in a large property or one with several floors. Using the same SSID (service set identification) for both routers will effectively create a single large network and let you use mobile devices around your house without needing to constantly disconnect and reconnect from Wi-Fi. However, you must set up the two routers in a specific way to have them work properly. One will be your primary router and will run in the same way as a single-router setup. The other will be a second router and will merely relay data back and forth.

Read the manual or manual for your routers if you are not already familiar with them. You will need to find how to access them through a computer and where to find specific settings in the setup menus. In most cases, you access the router by connecting it to a computer and then visiting a specified address in a Web browser. While this can work over Wi-Fi, you may find it easier to connect the router to your computer via an Ethernet cable during setup.

Log in to the administration menu for your primary router. This is the one which will connect to the Internet. Set it up as normal if you are using this router for the first time. Once it is set up (or straight away if you are already using the router), make a note of the SSID, the wireless channel the router is using, and the password settings.

Find the LAN settings in the admin menu and look for the entry for the list of available IP addresses. Make a note of the first available address (the lower of the two listed numbers), then increase this address number by one and save the change. (This effectively "reserves" the original first available address for use by your second router.) Disconnect the primary router and unplug it from the power outlet to make sure it doesn't cause any confusion while you are setting up the second router.

Connect the second router to your computer and plug it in to a power outlet, then log in to the router's administration menu. Change the SSID and the password settings so they are the same as on your primary router. This makes sure your devices can always connect automatically to whichever router they are nearest to.

Change the second router's IP address to whatever was originally listed as the first available address on your primary router before you increased the setting by one. This makes sure your primary router will always recognize your second router and will not assign its IP address to another device.

Check which wireless channel your second router is using. If it is the same wireless channel as your primary router, change it to something else. Having the two routers use different channels to one another will minimize interference across your network.

Switch the DHCP setting for your second router to "Off." This will make sure your second router merely relays wireless data and does not attempt to assign IP addresses to devices.

Save the settings on your secondary router, then unplug it and disconnect it from your computer. Connect your primary router to a power outlet and connect it to your modem or Internet connection point. Take your secondary router to another location in your house (for example the top floor) and connect it to a power outlet.

  • The second router must be capable of having a fixed IP address to use this method.
  • Although not necessary, you may find it easier to use two routers that are the same make and model.
  • Using two routers in this way is similar to using a wireless bridge. A wireless bridge is a specific device you can buy that relays wireless data but has no routing capability. In the method described here, you are effectively configuring the second router to act as if it were a wireless bridge (sometimes known as putting it into bridge mode.)

A professional writer since 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, John Lister ran the press department for the Plain English Campaign until 2005. He then worked as a freelance writer with credits including national newspapers, magazines and online work. He specializes in technology and communications.