How to Turn Your Old Router into a Repeater

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Do you struggle with dead spots or weak Wi-Fi connections in your home? Many people have this problem. You want reliable service throughout the house but don’t want to spend a fortune on a whole house mesh network system. If you have an old router laying around somewhere, you can turn that old router into a repeater and achieve full coverage by investing less than $20 and a little bit of your time. Even if you don’t have an old router, you could get one from a site like eBay for a small price.

What You Need

To repurpose your router as a Wi-Fi repeater, you will need the following items:

  • Powerline network adapter with no Wi-FI
  • Old router (802.11n or 802.11ac)
  • Ethernet cord
  • Extension cord (maybe)

Create Your New Repeater

First, you need to identify your current router’s IP address, which channel it broadcasts on, and the security type it uses.

1. Open Settings.

2. Click Network and Internet.

3. Click “Network and sharing center” link.

4. Change adapter settings.

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5. Right click on your Wi-Fi.

6. Click on Status.

7. Click the Details button.

8. Write down the default gateway address of the primary router.

Connect to the Primary Router

To connect to your current router:

Access it by typing the IP address into your browser, or you can enter the address provided by your router’s manufacturer.

  • Asus – http://router.asus.com
  • Belkin – http://router
  • D-Link – http://mydlinkrouter.local
  • Linksys – http://myrouter.local
  • Netgear – http://www.routerlogin.net
  • TP-Link – http://tplinklogin.net or http://tplinkwifi.net

Enter your user name and password. If you don’t know it, you can often find it on the bottom of the router or online.

Check Your Wi-Fi settings

For this step we will not be changing anything. We are just looking for information about your Wi-Fi settings to use in setting up the second router.

1. On your router’s homepage you just accessed, find router name, channel, and security type.

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2. Write these down, but do not change anything.

3. Log out.

Reset Your Old Router

The first thing you need to do to the old router is to completely erase any stored data from when it was in use.

1. Power on the router.

2. Insert a paper clip or other small, thin object into the hole marked reset on the back of the router.

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3. Hold in for around thirty seconds.

4. Release and all the lights should go out and come back on again. It’s now back to its factory settings.

Configure Secondary Router

To get the router ready to use:

1. Turn off the primary router or disconnect a PC from the network.

2. Connect your router to a computer not connected to the network.

3. Go through step 1 again with the old router until you get to the configuration page.

Copy the Settings from the Primary Router

Now you need to enter the information you copied from your primary router’s settings to the one you will now use as a repeater.

1. Ignore any setup wizards.

2. Go to the Wi-Fi settings page.

3. Enable wireless.

4. Change the network name to the same as the primary router.

5. Choose a channel far away from the channel the primary router is using.

6. Match the security type exactly.

7. Assign the same password as primary.

Assign the Old Router a Fixed IP Address

The router you use for your repeater needs its own IP address.

1. Go to the LAN setup page and give the router an IP address in the range assigned by the main router but outside automatically issued addresses from DHCP (Dynamic Host Communications Protocol).

build-repeater-lan-setup-page

2. Disable DHCP by unchecking it on the configuration page.

3. Give it a new address, one just outside the ones assigned by your router. For example, if your router gives out addresses from 192.168.1.2 to 192.168.1.49, give the new one 192.168.1.50.

4. Save settings.

5. Wait for it to reboot.

Put It All Together

The best way to connect your routers is with a long network cable, but that’s not always practical. Instead, use a cheap powerline networking adapter. It will use your electrical system as a transfer mechanism for the signal. Just make sure you are using only one electrical system connected to the same fuse box.

Check Your Work

Now it’s time to check your connections.

1. Pick a spot halfway between the dead spot and the primary router.

2. Plug the powerline adapter into the wall.

3. Attach the router to the adapter with an ethernet cord.

4. Turn on the extender router and try to connect.

5. Use a site like speedtest.net to check the speed of your connection near your primary router.

build-repeater-speedtest

6. Test the speed with the secondary router and compare to the first reading.

7. Move the secondary router around a bit to see if you can get a faster connection.

If you need better Wi-Fi in corners of your house, but don’t have a lot of money to make this happen, try this first to see if it works for you.

Image credit: Technicians connecting network cable by DepositPhotos

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7 comments

  1. I have successfully extended my wifi with the old router, however when I do it, I get very poor speeds on my wifi. The old router slows it down. Anything I can change in its settings?

  2. thanks for the good simple english info
    & powerline networking adapter solution
    to extend the lan net

  3. @Aarp – Make sure the two wireless networks are on separate WiFi channels, as far apart as possible. For example, put your base router on channel 1 and your old router is on channel 11. If you live in an area where there are other WiFi signals from your neighbors, for example, you may have to pick other channels that are not in use or have very weak signals.

    You can get an app for your phone that will show you all the WiFi signals in your area, and their relative signal strength. Walk around your area with this app on and see what signals are present and stay away from any strong channels.

  4. @Tracy R: Great article. I’m going to try it when I get home tonight. One thing you didn’t mention was not to use the WAN port on the old router. The Ethernet cable to the old router should be plugged into one of the normal (usually 4) LAN switch ports.

    1. Great original post @Tracy. I have been using powerline and additional “cable router” for some time, but not doing anything clever with channel selection, DHCP etc. This has led to internet connection dropping out periodically. I am hoping @Tracy’s approach will fix it. I tried it last night with another spare router and failed – but I used the WAN input. Will try again with @DJ’s tip.

  5. Success! Using my old NetGear router in the opposite corner of my house with a connection via a long Ethernet cable (through the basement) worked great. I was able to lock my primary Cisco/Linksys router to Channel 11 and the secondary NetGear router is on Channel 1. Same SSID, but now the areas furthest from my primary router get excellent signal strength and great network performance.

    The only tricky/technical step was using a laptop connected via Ethernet to the old router to get it set up. (That and remembering the old password.) Had to turn off wifi on the laptop and enter a static IP address to connect to the old router. Once that was done it was simple to erase the WAN configuration, set the WiFi Channel, set the router LAN IP address, and disable DHCP.

  6. In my setup using bridge mode (or WDS) channels are required to be the same. One device (Asus router) says it is adviced for better performance, while the other (tplink wr841n) says it’s mandatory nevertheless.

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