Using two routers in your home network can provide benefits like better Wi-Fi coverage, the ability to separate smart home devices onto their own network, and added security.
However, it also comes with potential drawbacks if not set up properly. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about using two routers.
Benefits of Using Two Routers
Here are some of the main benefits provided by a two router home network setup:
Expanded Wi-Fi Coverage
Adding a second wireless router can help extend your Wi-Fi network’s range, eliminating dead zones in parts of your home that your current router doesn’t reach. Mesh Wi-Fi systems take this idea even further for whole home coverage.
Separation of Smart Home Devices
Placing Internet of Things (IoT) devices like security cameras, smart speakers, and lightbulbs onto a separate Wi-Fi network isolated from your personal devices can limit their exposure to cyberattacks.
Using two routers on different channels in the 5 GHz band instead of the crowded 2.4 GHz band can increase overall bandwidth and speed for your devices. Devices connected to separate routers have to share bandwidth less.
A multi-router setup allows for more advanced configurations like VLANs and firewalls to further protect sensitive devices from other untrusted devices on your network.
Adding a second router and assigning devices strategically between the two can balance out network traffic, decreasing congestion and bottlenecks.
Drawbacks of Using Two Routers
However, dual router configurations also come with their own set of disadvantages and complications:
Needing to manage the settings, firmware, and connectivity across two separate routers makes your overall network architecture more complex. Two routers equals twice as many points of potential failure.
Since most consumer routers use Network Address Translation (NAT), having two may prevent devices separated across the routers from being able to communicate properly with each other.
Two DHCP servers handing out IP addresses on the same network subnet can lead to addressing conflicts that break connectivity for devices. Careful configuration is required.
Purchasing a new router in addition to the one provided by your internet service provider means increased hardware costs. Mesh Wi-Fi systems that replace your existing router are better options.
If not researched thoroughly ahead of time, configuring multiple routers to work together in harmony can be finicky, frustrating, and time consuming.
Ways to Connect Two Routers
If you want to leverage the advantages while accounting for the disadvantages, here are 3 effective ways to interconnect two routers:
Place the Second Router in Bridge Mode or Access Point Mode
Disabling DHCP server and NAT functionality effectively turns the second router into an ordinary Wi-Fi access point to avoid IP collisions or double NAT. Simple to set up. Allows both routers’ wireless networks to coexist with wired connections dominated by the primary router.
Use Different Network Subnets
Give each router a unique subnet (e.g. 192.168.1.0/24 and 192.168.2.0/24) to segment collision domains. Provides the most wireless and wired flexibility across both routers but involves more challenging configuration. Requires deliberate assignment of connected devices to specific subnets corresponding with proper router.
Utilize VLAN Tagging
More advanced option involving router firmware like DD-WRT that supports 802.1Q VLAN tagging. Allows you to use one physical router as if it were multiple virtual routers on logically separated subnets. Involves complex setup but full-fledged network segregation.
Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up 2 Routers
Follow this simple series of steps to successfully deploy a safe, properly operating dual router configuration in your home network:
Step 1 – Research Your Routers’ Capabilities
- Check documentation about VLAN, bridging, repeater modes, etc. Features can vary greatly across router models in terms of multi-router support. Choose routers capable of enabling the connectivity method you intend to implement.
Step 2 – Prepare Hardware Topology and Cabling
- Decide primary and secondary router placement for optimal Wi-Fi coverage.
- Ensure ethernet cabling runs can physically connect both routers. Cat 5e or Cat 6 recommended.
- For maximized wired speeds, connect local network cabling directly into router LAN ports.
- Never connect cabling between router WAN and LAN ports. Always WAN to modem only.
Step 3 – Configure Primary Router Settings First
- Connect modem to primary router WAN port and power on.
- Access primary router admin interface and configure:
- Unique LAN IP address subnet (e.g. 192.168.1.1).
- Disabled or secured remote admin.
- DHCP server active.
- Desired wireless settings (SSID, security, channel, bandwidth).
- Port forwarding for public services if needed.
- Primary DNS servers entered (184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11).
Step 4 – Connect & Configure Secondary Router
- Connect secondary router WAN port to primary router LAN port.
- Access secondary router admin interface and configure:
- Unique LAN IP address subnet (192.168.2.1).
- DHCP server disabled.
- Same SSID & wireless security as primary router if extending Wi-Fi, otherwise disabled.
- Adjust LAN settings per bridging, VLAN tags, etc. based on connectivity method.
Step 5 – Connect Client Devices Strategically
- For simple dual coverage:
- Connect wired devices into ports on appropriate router based on location/purpose.
- Allow client devices to auto-connect to SSID for best wireless signal.
- For network segmentation:
- Manually assign static IP addresses to divide by device types across subnets and connect to matched router LAN ports.
Step 6 – Test Connectivity Across Both Routers
- Verify client devices obtain IP addresses properly from correct router DHCP server.
- Confirm Internet accessible from all connected devices.
- Check devices can communicate locally across routers per your configuration goals.
- Make fixes to settings if needed until desired connectivity behavior achieved.
The flexibility of advanced networking options like VLANs and bridging modes means that adding a second router can provide benefits, but requires careful configuration planning tailored to your specific usage goals. Patience is key. To achieve success with minimal headaches, invest time up front researching router modes and wifi optimization best practices before purchase and setup. Consider mesh systems as easier alternatives. Only pursue the dual router path if you find benefit in architecturally separating your network traffic across logically distinct subnets.
While using two routers may seem daunting, the payoff in terms of expanded Wi-Fi range, boosted speeds, and increased configuration flexibility can make the effort worthwhile. Just be strategic in planning – choose compatible router hardware suited for your particular dual router approach, carefully allocate subnets to avoid IP conflicts, and manually designate client device connections based on networking priorities. Avoid common beginner mistakes by disabling extra DHCP servers, never connecting WAN to LAN ports, and testing rigorously after setup before adding lots of devices. With sound preparation and setup knowledge, successfully linking two routers can take your home connectivity to the next level.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I use two routers on the same network?
Yes, you can use two routers on the same home network by configuring them properly. Disable the DHCP server on the secondary router and connect its WAN port to a LAN port on the primary router to add more ethernet ports and wireless coverage.
- What happens if I connect two routers together?
Connecting two routers together without configuring them correctly can lead to network connectivity issues due to running two conflicting DHCP servers which assign IP addresses or double NAT slowing traffic passing between the networks.
- What is the best way to set up two routers?
The best practice is to set one router as the primary by connecting its WAN port to the modem, leave its DHCP on, then setup the secondary router in access point mode by turning DHCP off and connecting its WAN port to the primary router LAN port.
- Can I only use one router?
Yes, you can use only one router if you don’t need expanded features like Wi-Fi range, increased bandwidth, or network subnet segregation benefits provided by adding a second router. Just connect a single router WAN port to the modem.
- Do I need two routers for multiple devices?
No, a single router can handle connecting many devices. But adding a second router lets you expand available LAN ports for wired devices or increase Wi-Fi coverage area if needed.
- What is double NAT with two routers?
Double NAT occurs when using two routers that both have Network Address Translation enabled, preventing direct communication between devices separated across the routers. Port forwarding can fix this.
- Should both routers use different channels?
Yes, when deploying two Wi-Fi routers for expanded wireless coverage it’s best to configure them to broadcast on non-overlapping channels to reduce signal interference.
- Why do I need two routers?
Typical reasons to use two routers are providing better Wi-Fi coverage across a large home, increasing available bandwidth and wired ports, isolating IoT smart home devices onto their own network, or advanced configurations like router load balancing and VLAN subnets.
- Can I use the same SSID on two routers?
You can set both routers to use the same Wi-Fi network name (SSID) and security password when operating in bridge mode or access point mode. This lets wireless devices roam seamlessly between the two.
- Where should I place my second router?
The best placement is in a central location of poor Wi-Fi coverage from the main router, ensuring enough Ethernet cable length to connect to it. Avoid potential wireless interference by separating far apart.
- Can I connect two router LAN ports?
No, you should never connect two LAN ports together between routers. Router LAN ports are only designed to connect with the WAN port interface or with end user devices like computers and switches.
- Do meshes and extenders work like a second router?
Yes, Wi-Fi mesh systems and wireless extenders can provide similar benefits to a second physical router in terms of expanding Wi-Fi range, but are typically easier to setup since they are designed to work seamlessly with your existing primary router.
- Should I get a new router or extender?
When adding wireless coverage, a new router provides more configurable options and ethernet ports, while extenders or meshes are simpler, more seamless solutions. So prioritize your specific networking needs.
- What modem do I need for two routers?
There are no specific modem requirements when adding a second router since you connect it to the primary router and not directly to the modem. Just ensure your existing modem has enough Ethernet ports or a switch to connect both routers.
- How do I set up two Linksys routers?
To join two Linksys routers, first setup one as the main router and disable DHCP on the second. Connect the primary router WAN port to the modem then connect the secondary router WAN port to a LAN port on the primary router.
- What causes Wi-Fi instability with two routers?
The main stability issues caused by incorrectly deploying two routers stem from running two mismatched DHCP servers which confuse devices by assigning random excess IP addresses.
- Wi-Fi channel interference can also lower Can I use my old router as a second router?
Yes, you can reuse an old router as your secondary router. Older routers still work reliably for basic tasks like port forwarding, Ethernet switching, and extending Wi-Fi range when configured properly in bridge mode or access point mode.