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How to set a Wireless Router as an Access Point

2007-11-22 (updated: 2014-06-08) by
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I've often found it useful to get just the wireless functionality out of a WiFi router and reuse it as an access point. Wireless routers seem more common, and are often priced even lower than wireless access points. Adding an access point to a wired network already in place, or to one where the main NAT router is provided by the ISP is usually the easiest solution. However, introducing a second NAT router on the network is not a good idea, especially without some tweaking to set it up correctly.

Instead of using your wireless router as intended (NAT routing, DHCP client/server, PPPoE client, etc.), converting it into a wireless access point will save you a lot of headackes and make the configuration much simpler.

In essence, the new wireless router/access point needs to be configured to use a LAN IP address in your network range (the same subnet as your other devices), and you need to connect one of its LAN ports to the existing gateway/router. Do not use the Internet/WAN port on the wireless router to be used as an acces point.

More detailed step by step instructions on how exactly to convert and use your wireless router as an access point are below:

  

Step 1: Find the IP addresses of your existing gateway/router and clients

You need to find the internal IP address of your existing modem/gateway/router that connects your LAN to the internet. Under Windows, the easiest way to do this is drop to command prompt (Start > Run > type: cmd) and type: ipconfig

Click to expand


In this example, my ISP-provided gateway/router (the "Default Gateway") is set to 192.168.1.1. My client computer is at 192.168.1.10


The "IP address" line in the above figure shows your computer's IP, while the "Default Gateway" is your main existing router that provides your internet connection. It is usually in the 192.168.x.x range.

Alternaticely, you can try connecting to your router's default IP address by looking it up in our routers database.

 

Step 2: Connect to your router administration interface to find the DHCP range

By default, LAN clients are usually set to obtain their IPs automatically. What that means is, the router acts as a DHCP server, and serves IP addresses dynamically, as needed to the client computers. You need to find the range of IPs used for DHCP so you can later set your access point to use an IP address outside that range (but on the same subnet).

Login to your gateway's admin interface, usually by typing its IP address in your web browser, and find the DHCP range:

Click to expand
In this example, the DHCP range is from 192.168.1.10 to 192.168.1.100

Note: If you don't know the password to your router's admin interface, you may want to lookup the defaults in its manual, or in our hardware database.

 

Step 3: Connect a computer to the wireless router/AP

You need to  connect a computer (via a LAN port) to the new wireless router to be used as an access point. I'll refer to it as the "Acces point" from now on. To do this:

- set your client computer to obtain its IP automatically (default behavior in Windows)
- connect it to a LAN port on the access point using a Cat5 network cable
- reboot, or use the "ipconfig /renew" command in Command prompt to force it to get an IP address from the access point

Log into the admin page of the access point (you can find it's IP address as you did in step 1 for your main router). It is usually done by simply typing the IP address of the router in your browser's address bar.

 

Step 4: Configure the wireless router / AP

Once logged into the admin interface of the wireless router, you need to do two things. First, you need to change its internal/LAN IP address to an unused address in the same range/subnet as all your other LAN devices. Second, you need to disable the DHCP server on your new AP, so there is only one DHCP server on the network. In my case, my main gateway/LAN router is set to 192.168.1.1, and it is serving dynamic IPs via DHCP in the range 192.168.1.10 - 192.168.1.100. I have to use any other address in the 192.168.1.x range for the access point:

Click to expand
In this figure, my new wireless router/access point is set to use 192.168.1.2 as its IP address, and I've disabled DHCP, so it will not interfere with the DHCP server from my gateway. It is important to have only one device acting as a DHCP server, and that the IP address of the access point is in the same range as the main router.

  

Step 5: Connect the AP to the LAN

It is time to connect the reconfigured wireless access point to the network. Use a LAN port on the new wireless router, and connect it with a Cat5 network cable to one of the LAN ports of the existing gateway. Make sure not to use the "Internet/WAN" port on the wireless access point!

Connect your client computer to another LAN port of the gateway/router (if you do not reboot, you will have to use "ipconfig /renew" in command prompt to obtain an IP address from your router).

Note: Some older devices that do not support Auto-crossover (MDI/MDI-X) may require a crossover network cable (where the send and receive pairs are switched) between the two routers. This is not common with modern hardware.

 

Step 6: Test admin page is reachable and secure the AP

Now that the new wireless access point is connected to our network, with a correct IP address in the same range (and outside the DHCP range), we can test whether it's reachable, and secure the wireless connection.

In the above example, I configured the wireless AP to use 192.168.1.2. Its administration interface should be reachable by typing this IP address in the browser.

Once connected, it is time to set the wireless security:

Click to expand
Use WPA2 if both your access point and clients support it. Set a strong key, and remember it - clients will need this to be able to connect to the wireless network.  Try not to use WEP encryption - it can be cracked easily as illustrated here.

 

Step 7: Test the AP wireless connection

Start a wireless client and make sure it properly connects to the network. It should pull an IP address automatically from your existing router/gateway (the DHCP server).

Done, you now have a wireless access point.

 

Notes:
If both your main gateway and access point have wireless capability, you can use the same SSID, same security, and different non-overlapping wireless channels to extend the range of your wireless network and allow clients to connect to either one automatically.
If you can't figure out the default IP address by connecting to a router with a Cat5 cable, you can also look it up in our Broadband Hardware Database, containing IP/login information on more than 2600+ routers.

 

  User Reviews/Comments:
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by Petr - 2013-07-20 11:19
Really thank you. Very useful.
by anonymous - 2013-08-15 19:18
Thank you soooooo much!!! I am not a "commenter" or reviewer. However, I have to say this helped me immensely and it only took me 20 minutes!!!! Woooooo hooooooo!
by anonymous - 2013-08-18 14:41
This is crap. What is everyone talking about? Connect your AP to your current router? With a cable? That does nothing! ipconfig/renew only makes it impossible to even access my current router for some reasons.

This write-up is incomplete and useless.
by Peter - 2013-09-17 15:56
Thank you
It takes only 2 steps
1-change ip to 192.168.1.2
2-disable dhcp
by anonymous - 2013-09-23 20:18
Your post was excellent.
However, I have one problem. I am trying to connect D-Link DI-264 wireless router as an access point to a Sagemcom F@st 2864 router. My problem is that, when I attempt to access the network, I seem to have two networks, with the exact same name. Is there some way that I can solve this, as it doesn't seem to be normal.
Thank you very much for your advice.
by Mahmood Aslam - 2013-10-21 01:22
Thank you so much..............
by Netlinking - 2013-10-30 03:32
Thank you for this article. It help me connect the NETGEAR DGND3300 as an AP, with D-link dir655 as the main router. it took me only 3 weeks of reading and trying, and smiling now. again Thank you!!!
by Korwin van der Ploeg - 2013-11-02 04:31
Great review! thank you very much. I disabled the wireless section on my cisco modem (provided by the ISP) and i am using my Netgear wndr3700 as my wireless access point/switch. The internet appears to lag sometimes. when i stop the loading of an internet page and refesh, it sometimes loads the page without any delay. On other occasions it keeps loading the page.

Does anyone have any idea on how to solve this?
by Paulie - 2013-11-21 20:37
Excellent article.
by Coolpra - 2013-12-17 02:17
Thanks a lot for this info...

I was struggling before...I found my mistake coz I'm not disabling the DHCP in access point...

Thanks a again & GOD BLESS!

CoolPra
by wwratekin - 2014-01-02 15:56
Great article thank you so much. I realize this tutorial was posted several years ago but I wondered if anyone could help me out. I followed the instructions and got the AP working great WHEN it is connected to the main router directly. I was wanting to use my powerline kit that is connected to the main router and then plug the secondary AP into that but when I do that it will not load any webpages. Have any ideas why this could be? Thanks
by gipple - 2014-01-25 21:32
Extremely well written, complete, well-thought-out, and easy to follow. I've tried around and was lost until I came upon this article of Philip. For the first time I have joined a forum just so I could express my appreciation for this. Everything works great -- none of the "gurus" at several stores had any clue how to do it, or even where to start. Now I have -- finally -- great WiFi in my "casita" which is detached from my house and with WiFi that used to be severely attenuated by wire-mesh plaster... Thanks so much!
by Bozi - 2014-01-26 13:15
Thank you thank you thank you!!!
by anonymous - 2014-01-28 00:34
It is one of the best thread I have ever read. Congratulations!!!!!!!!
by david - 2014-02-10 14:46
hi,
good tutorial,but i have problem, wifirouter like AP good but internet speed on cable is 100mbps but on wifi speed is only 20mbps. I use N wifi and try chance security, chanel, type of connection ....
I use Tenda W311R+.

Canyou help me?
by Steve - 2014-04-21 06:04
Hi
I have been struggling trying to set up an additional Netgear router on my network as an AP.
Followed instructions ref to obtaining the DHCP range which is 02 to 254 then trying to set the AP to outside this range but it wont let me.
Somehow it set the ip to 10 and accepted it so i left it.
Still couldnt get the AP to work so in frustration i disabled the NAT which i haven't seen mentioned anywhere.
The AP now works.
How the hell is that possible as the IP is as I understand inside the DHCP range & instructions state to put it outside. There seems to be conflicting instructions in your post & also no mention of disabling NAT. Just curious!!!




I have managed to set up my AP (Netgear)
by Philip - 2014-04-22 11:11
Steve,

If you use an IP address in the DHCP range of your main router, you may eventually run into issues as it may assign this IP to another device via DHCP. I'd suggest that you simply reduce the DHCP range to start from .11 ane leave the first 10 internal IPs as static assignments. If you tried to use .1 for the AP, it may also be occupied by your main router.

As to yout second point, there is no conflict in the instructions: if you use the LAN ports on the router and the AP, there should be no NAT interfering with the connection. Most routers only perform NAT when connecting to the WAN port, the LAN ports should act as a simple switch.

I hope this helps.
by Steve - 2014-04-24 14:18
Hi Phil
Thanks for the reply. As you may be aware i'm not completely ofay with the networking side of things. I am the more physical side, installing structured cabling, switches & servers so excuse my dumbness on the networking side.

I read your guide but i read it as a conflict in 2 statements so i am confused. Please see below from your post

You need to find the range of IPs used for DHCP so you can later set your access point to use an IP address outside that range (but on the same subnet).

Once logged into the admin interface of the wireless router, you need to do two things. First, you need to change its internal/LAN IP address to an unused address in the same range/subnet as all your other LAN devices.

On following your guide i just couldn't get the AP to work. I tried to change the ip to 255 which was outside the DHCP range but the error message came back as something like " you cannot change the IP to this as its outside the range.
As I said nothing worked until I disabled the NAT
If I decrease the IP range on the primary router will this upset all the devices I already have working on my network as my DHCP range goes from 192.168.0.1 to 254. My primary router gateway is 192.168.1.1
Thanks for any help & I realise every situation is different

Many thanks

Steveo
by Philip - 2014-04-26 09:06
Steve,

First, you can't use the .255 address, it is reserved as a "broadcast address".

Second, most routers use a LAN address in the same subnet/block as the DHCP range. You mention that your DHCP range is 192.168.0.1 to 254, primary router/gateway at 192.168.1.1. This may make the router unreachable from LAN IPs, depending on the subnet.

I'd leave the router at 192.168.1.1, set the DHCP range from 192.168.1.10-192.168.1.254, and I would've used the 192.168.1.2 to .9 for static IPs, such as your access point, and any clients you'd like to have static forwarding to.

As I mentioned in my last post, NAT should only play a role if you are using the WAN/Internet port on your wireless AP(router), which you shouldn't be doing in the first place as per the guide.
by mehran - 2014-05-03 12:47
thaankk you soo much dear! its working really amazing.... I've trying to do this for a long time
by Jorge - 2014-05-12 06:22
I can't remember what I set the access point IP address to so can't get into the admin page. Any way to see this IP address? I checked the DHCP client list on my router and the mac address of the access point isn't on there.
by Philip - 2014-05-12 09:37
To find the IP of your access point, try this: http://www.speedguide.net/faq_in_q.php?category=91&qid=422
by Steve - 2014-06-08 06:35
Hi
Can anyone help me trying to set up an AP off my primary router. I seem to be having major difficulties. I have followed all instructions but seem to fall short of doing something simple i guess.

My primary router is a Orange Brightbox with a
gateway of 192.168.1.1
Subnet mask 255.255.255.0

DHCP set to
192.168.1.10 to 192.168.1.254

My AP is a Netgear DGN1000
Gateway 192.168.0.1
Subnet mask 255.255.255.0

I have reset the Netgear many times to try to change the IP address with a PC not on the network.
I can access the config page but when i try to change the IP it gives me a error message saying

The page at 192.168.0.1 says
New IP address of PC may need to be released and renewed

I have managed to get the AP working but it puts it on a different IP address network in the 192.168.0.1 range and not in the range of my primary router Brightbox but it seemed to create a few issues.

Why cant I get the AP to except the new IP address in the same range as the primary Brightbox router
I have tried changing the IP address to 192.168.1.2 & 3 & 4 as this is outside the primary router DHCP range but it wont stick

Any help would be very helpful

Steve
by Philip - 2014-06-08 09:56
Steve,

When you connect your PC to the Netgear router, you have to obtain a new IP from it, as it is in a different range (192.168.0.x vs. 192.168.1.x). Every time you connect to a different network, you'd have to drop to command prompt and do: ipconfig /renew

Alternatively, you can disable/re-enable the network adapter so it can recognize the new network/gateway. All this assumes that your PC is obtaining its IP automatically via DHCP.

Once you change the IP of the Netgear to 192.168.1.2, you may have to reconnect as explained above again.

I hope this helps.
by stevehawkey - 2014-06-09 08:12
Hi Phil thanks for contacting me but i'm still not getting it.

If i connect a laptop to the Netgear router that i want to use as the AP to change the ip it wont let me.
I cant get a IP address via DHCP as all instructions say to disable it.
Looks like i need a full step by step instruction as it just aint working for me
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