How to Use a Router as a Repeater

Wireless connectivity has become one of the most necessary requirements of today’s technology. Having bad WiFi is almost unacceptable by today’s standards, yet we still have to cope with having poor coverage in some locations.

Dead zones or network congestion are the usual suspects when it comes to poor coverage, within someone’s home, office or even in the streets. Using a separate router is often not encouraged and a signal repeater or secondary access point is recommended, depending on the situation, of course.

In practice, this means using an old router as a signal repeater or as another access point is not only doable, but also recommended in home use cases.

How to Use a Router as a Repeater – Typical Setup

Depending on the router in question, though all routers should have an access point mode, it should be relatively easy to set your router up as a repeater or access point, depending on your preferred method. The two differ because one method requires the usage of an ethernet cable from the main router to the secondary one.

Use a Router as Repeater Without Cable

Repeaters broadcast the same frequency as the original device does, basically extending its range. They are often used when other solutions aren’t possible, or when wireless connectivity is preferred.

The steps one should do to set their router up as a repeater are the following:

  1. Make sure that the router is plugged in and working.
  2. Make sure that the router’s firmware is updated and is the latest available version.
  3. Access the router’s settings through a browser.
  4. Put the router in Repeating Mode. This will be in a settings menu, however, where exactly will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and even router to router. It may also be named extender mode or wireless bridge mode, also depending on the manufacturer.
  5. Choose the network that you want your router to repeat and then connect to it by entering the password.
  6. Note that some routers will have extra security and will require more than a simple password. Some will require a mac address to be added, depending on the security settings and their strictness.

The steps should cover most routers, but the details will vary, so it is best to go directly to the manufacturer for the exact steps.

router wan port

The WAN port can be under a different name, or it might not even be named, depending on the manufacturer. Image source: Abhi25t

How to Setup Netgear Router as a Repeater

For example, Netgear, a rather popular choice when it comes to routers, has simplified the way you turn their products into repeaters.

  1. For Netgear products, one should first name their Base router and Repeater, meaning change their SSID so that they are easily distinguishable.
  2. The Base router’s security system should be in WEP mode. The Channel should also be the same as the repeater’s.
  3. One should then enable the Wireless Repeating Mode and designate the base as Wireless Base Station. The router’s MAC address needs to be input in the box. Most Netgear routers allow the base to have up to 4 repeaters.

Repeaters also have to be set up in order for things to work properly.

  1. For the repeater, it is important to disable DHCP, since running DHCP on both the base and the repeater will cause serious network issues. Only the base can run DHCP.
  2. In the Wireless Repeating Mode tab, the router should be designated as Wireless Repeater.
  3. The base router’s IP address should be typed into its appropriate box, as well as the base’s MAC address.

Using a netgear router as repeater is fairly easy when you follow the official guide.

When Not to Use Router as Repeater – Access Points

Routers can be used as access points, the main difference being using an ethernet cable to connect the access point to the base router. Routers can also be access points, though setting them up will vary greatly from router to router.

The steps are ‘typically’ as follows:

  1. Make sure that the router is plugged in and that it is updated.
  2. Plug in an ethernet cable from the base router to the access point router’s WAN port.
  3. Configure the access point router to be an access point, rather than a base router. Most modern routers should have that option, though it is always recommended to check with your manufacturer, particularly before attempting to make an access point.

Whenever possible, ethernet connections are recommended because they are more stable than another router repeating the signal of the main router wirelessly. Consider finding the support pages of your manufacturer, whether TP Link, Netgear, Linksys or any other, for the most accurate information.

Alternatives to Repeaters and Access Points

Access points and alternatives are a great way to reuse an old router, which does prevent waste and essentially increases your range. However, it will require your device to manually connect from one device to another, which will decrease the quality of your connection, particularly if you are moving from one room to another frequently.

Two alternatives come to mind.

Long Range Routers

If an old router does not have the option to be either a repeater or an access point, a new long range router will do a better job anyway. Newer routers tend to have better hardware and better support, meaning software updates.

Old routers do not support new generations of WiFi, such as 6 or 5, even, depending on the age of the router.

Mesh WiFi

Mesh WiFi is a more expensive method of making wireless access points throughout your home or office, but it is a more effective one. For starters, you don’t have more access points, but a single one that is essentially broadcast more by the mesh devices. This ensures connectivity without disruptions.

While more expensive, it is definitely a more effective way to increase your WiFi signal range.

Conclusion and Summary

Using your old router as a range extender/signal repeater or an access point is a good way of making sure you get more range in your home or office, while not contributing to a growing e-waste problem.

There are better solutions when it comes to performance and security, such as long range routers and mesh WiFi, though this will work in most situations and keep a functioning device in service.

About The Author

Milan Zagorac

Milan has always been interested in writing and technology, but managed to pick up a love for music, literature and sports along the way. Essentially a jack of all trades, his interest in all things tech as well as love for the written word, keeps him well occupied.

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