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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 anonymous - 2014-06-25 06:15
Hello. concering security, when you assign the secondary router an IP like 192.168.1.2, and is outside the primary's DHCP range, so it will be a static IP, and assigning static IPs in routers will reduce the NAT.

As such, will that lower the NAT for its static IP in the primary router? or only the ones in the DHCP range will take effect? and if yes, how to make it work as dynamic IP?

Thanks.
by anonymous - 2014-06-25 10:04
You are awesome man...

I have had some issues with SIP phones such asMedia5 / Zoiper, etc. not wanting to register, and it was due in part to stateful packet inspection (SPI) issues. You see, I have a VPN from my house to my office's PBX system, and when I ran a wireless router to the regular router which had the VPN, the SPI & Application-Level Gateway (ALG) issues were preventing the registrations. After modifying my wireless router to an AP as you described, everything works perfect now... all my iPhones, iPads, etc. easily register with the office PBX.

Thanks again +++A for your guide!!!
by Philip - 2014-06-25 12:31
There is no "reduction in NAT" - there is either NAT, or not. Only one of the routers should be performing NAT translation, and that is your primary router.

As to dynamic vs. static IP for the access point on a local network, the only difference is that you will know exactly how/where to reach it if you need to reconfigure it. The way its IP address is assigned has no relevance to security.
by anonymous - 2014-06-26 07:14
I am not sure if I got that at all, but what i meant is the nat type/level 1,2 or, 3, and the opened ports correspondently. For example, if I assingn a static IP in a router for a gaming console, the Nat type/level will lower and ports will be opened correspondently.

So does assigning the secondary router a static IP of 192.168.1.2 in the primary one and outside the primary's DHCP range take effect of the nat type/level and the opened ports, as that?
by Philip - 2014-06-26 08:18
The main router performs network address translation (NAT) to local IPs, non-routable to the internet. In other words, 192.168.0.x is no more or less secure than 192.168.2.x or 192.168.5.x - they're all the same, and they need to be translated to a single public IP (the one assigned to you by your ISP) to be routable on to the internet.

If you enable NAT on the second router, it would not act as an access point, and you would be performing double translation of every packet. You will be translating local IPs to another block of local IPs. This would reduce speed (increased processing of each packet), and add to latency and confusion. Clients connected to both routers will not communicate with each other, rendering network printing and file sharing useless. Opened ports are normally only relevant on the main router that connects your LAN to the outside world. To open a port under such double-NAT would require reconfiguring both devices. Adding complexity by segmenting your LAN behind multiple NAT devices does not achieve much.

Like I said, DHCP is just a different method of assigning IPs, not less or more secure than static IPs. In addition, the IPs your routers assign are private, non routable to the internet without translation (NAT), and you should have only one DHCP server per block of IPs on your LAN.
by shreaks - 2014-06-26 12:36
setting i had made:

main Router:

lan Ip: 192.168.1.1
dhcp: ip above 192.168.1.15

access point:

lan Ip: static 192.168.1.4
dhcp: disabled


my wireless gets disconnected after 10 -15 minutes and doesnot get connected until i restart my access point router.
by shreaks - 2014-06-30 16:50
can somebody please help !!!!!
my wireless gets disconnected after 10 -15 minutes and doesn't get connected until i restart my access point router.

main Router:

lan Ip: 192.168.1.1
subnet :255.255.255.0
dhcp: ip above 192.168.1.15

access point:

lan Ip: static 192.168.1.4
subnet :255.255.255.0
dhcp: disabled
by inwell - 2014-07-30 05:12
Thax for the article..

1. My first router also has 4 lan ports so can i connect my PC to the old router also..? (getting total 6 lan connections. 3 on old and 3 on new AP)

2.What if my ADSL modem is diff device and a Wireless Router is different device? (ADSL modem + WiFi Router + New Wifi Router added as AP)

3.MY first router/ADSL is set as DHCP off and my 6 pc are assigned their own IPs(192.168.1.10 to 15)... will it work ?
by Greg - 2014-08-08 20:05
Great article. One thing you did not cover was the SSID. Should the AP use the same wifi SSID as the primary router or is it better to use a different SSID ?
by Capone1212 - 2014-09-09 17:29
Pulling my Hair Out.

I have been trying for hours to get my TP-Link TL-801DN AP to connect to my Huawei B593 Wireless LTE Router. I have connected them via a network cable from the LAN port on the Huawei to the LAN port on the TP-Link

I am using my macbook pro to do this. I have no ethernet port and are using wireless to configure. Not the best but my only option right now (in there could lie my problem?)

On the Huawei:

IP: 192.168.1.1
subnet:255.255.255.0

DHCP enabled
Range: 192.168.1.10 to 192.168.1.100

On the TP-Link AP

IP: 192.168.1.2
subnet: 255.255.255.0

DHCP: Disabled

I have to keep on going into my macs network settings to change from DHCP when on the Huawei to manually putting in when connected to the TP-Link...frustrating

When in the TP-Link interface I cannot ping the Huawei....therefore no internet

What am I doing wrong...
by Capone1212 - 2014-09-09 18:00
gateway setting on TP-Link is 192.168.1.1
by lorded - 2014-10-11 00:25
Philip I know you are still responding to comments 4 yrs after making this post so thank you. Hopefully I am not too late.

I have been trying to follow these instructions step by step:

Step 1: My existing router Actiontec MI424WR from my ISP Frontier is 192.168.1.1

Step 2: My router DHCP range is 192.168.1.10 - 192.168.1.254

Step 3: Connecting computer to my Netgear WNDR3700 v1 . My Windows 7 laptop is set to obtain IP automatically. The AP is powered on and I have cat5 cable from LAN port 2 on AP to my laptop LAN port. I have rebooted the laptop and run cmd line ipconfig/renew to get new IP. However it will never recognize the computer, wont give me an IP address and I cannot access the AP admin page to make the necessary IP address and DHCP changes.

So am I missing a step? Am I supposed to have the AP plugged into the router before connecting to the computer to make the changes? That doesnt seem right as both the AP and the router share the same IP address, 192.168.1.1

I feel this should be easy and I am probably missing a very simple step (I foresee a *head desk* coming on)

Thanks
by Philip - 2014-10-13 00:48
If the computer is not able to get an IP (via DHCP) from the AP, you may have to manually set that laptop's IP address. If you're sure the AP's IP is 192.168.1.1, then you can manually set your laptop to any other 192.168.1.x IP (net mask 255.255.255.0, DNS 192.168.1.1), and point your browser to 192.168.1.1 - this should bring up the AP's interface so you can reconfigure it. If you still can't connect to it, it is probably set to a different IP, and you may have to reset it to the default. I hope this helps.
by denise - 2014-10-17 20:33
I purchased a new router to use as an AP. Do I need to run the setup that came with it before changing the configuration to make it an AP?
by Philip - 2014-10-19 20:08
You only need to run the router setup if its configuration menus are not accessible. I'd advise against using any router software apps/setup unless you can't connect to the router.
by denisec - 2014-10-20 13:12
I cannot get an IP address for the new router. It keeps telling me Wireless Network Connection 2 disconnected. I am running windows 7 home premium. My laptop is connected wirelessly to my existing router. I have a cable modem from Comcast and the router is plugged into that, I also have our desktop and my work laptop physically connected to the existing router. Any ideas? thanks so much for your help.
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\Users\Denise>ipconfig/renew
Windows IP Configuration
No operation can be performed on Wireless Network Connection 2 while it has its media disconnected.

Wireless LAN adapter Wireless Network Connection 2:

Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected
Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :

Wireless LAN adapter Wireless Network Connection:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . : hsd1.ct.comcast.net.
IPv6 Address. . . . . . . . . . . :
IPv6 Address. . . . . . . . . . . :
Temporary IPv6 Address. . . . . . :
Temporary IPv6 Address. . . . . . :
Link-local IPv6 Address . . . . . :
IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.146
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :
192.168.1.1

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
Link-local IPv6 Address . . . . . :
IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.144
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1

Tunnel adapter Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface:

Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected
Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :

Tunnel adapter isatap.hsd1.ct.comcast.net.:

Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected
Connection-specific DNS Suffix . : hsd1.ct.comcast.net.

Tunnel adapter isatap.{}:

Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected
Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :

C:\Users\Denise>
by Steve - 2014-11-21 12:40
I have a wireless router downstairs, and use it for connecting our laptops, rokus, etc, and that all works fine. Now I have to set up a workspace upstairs. I will have a PoE switch with several devices hooked up to it. I'd like to have an access point that is wirelessly connected to my main router downstairs, then I can use cable to connect the access point to the switch. Looking through this great article, and the remarks, it seems like this should be doable, but I'd like your input on it.

Thanks!

Steve
by Philip - 2014-11-23 11:39
Steve,

By definition, an access point has its wan/internet side wired, and serves clients wirelessly.

If you want the wan/internet connection of the device to be wireless, it is not an access point, rather a wireless client. You can set some routers in wireless client mode, you may want to look into dd-wrt or another open source firmware if yours does not support it.
by John - 2014-11-27 00:14
Hello there! Thank you for the clear instructions! I only stumble across one problem. In step 5 you basically tell us to connect both the wireless router and the client pc to the gateway router. What if my gateway router has only one ethernet port?
Basically my setup is a non wireless router with one ethernet port only, connected to a desktop pc. I am trying to find a way to hook up a spare wireless router somewhere in this setup so that I can have a wireless connection additionally to the wired one for the desktop. Looking forward to your reply!
by Philip - 2014-11-29 13:04
John,

You can also get away with connecting the new AP to the one router LAN port, and then using one of the AP LAN ports (except the WAN port) for your client desktop. Just make sure that your desktop can reach the admin pages of both your AP and your main router.
by Brian - 2014-12-04 23:25
Thanks - great instructions. I was able to turn my Belkin Surf N300 into an access point, and it worked when I ran the Cat 5 cable directly from my Xfinity wireless gateway into one of the Belkin LAN ports (I was able to access the router admin using the new IP address that was setup outside the range of Xfinity gateway). I also copied over the SSID, security settings, and changed the channel of the access point to be 5 channels away from the wireless gateway. However, I also am using a Western Digital Livewire connection to send my internet through my electrical wires, and was really trying to extend my wireless range by setting up the access point on the other side of the house connected to the WD Livewire box. When I connected my AP to the WD Livewire box on the other side of the house, I am no longer able to use the access point (can no longer access the router admin using the new IP address). Has anyone else tried this setup with a Livewire connection? I know the Livewire connection is solid, as I am able to stream 1080p HD off of it on my HDTV, so I am not sure why the AP isn't also working when connected to the same box.
by abinkurian - 2014-12-14 03:27
Hi Sir,
In my OOREDOO router which option i need to select ATM or PTM.
And After configuring by this method am not getting internet from my old router,
Plz help
Thank you
by happyadrian - 2014-12-29 17:35
The only clear explanation/guide I could find on doing this online. It made the process extremely practical and clear for people unfamiliar with setting up routers.
by randominion - 2015-01-25 09:03
This is a great article. My partner ran a cable from the router downstairs to the bedroom, and I used an old router configured as an access point using the instructions in the article.

It works great, but when you leave it unused for a while, the client computer looses the connection (seems to be the same whether it's an iPhone, iPad or Windows laptop) and you have to reconnect again. It's fine if we're watching video, like BBC iPlayer, but even if we're web browsing, then sometimes the connection goes if you pause to long.

In the router settings, there is a 'keep alive' setting, but this only seems to be for the WAN connection. Is there any way of keeping the connection alive on the access point? I noticed someone else on the discussion forum seemed to have a similar problem. Has anyone else had this and have they found a solution?
by deepti - 2015-02-03 04:14
I tried the same but when wireless network (from second router ) is connected (from PC) gave the "limited" status and doesnt open any site.I cannot ping 192.168.1.1 (first router) if connected to second router's wireless network.Please help.Do I need to configure "internet setup" to make second roter as AP.I am using dlink 2750u router as slave/second router
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