How to set a Wireless Router as an Access Point2007-11-22 (updated: 2021-01-17) by Philip
Tags: AP, access point, router, WAN, NAT, Wi-Fi
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
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:
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, sometimes on a sticker on the router itself, or in our hardware database of over 4000 routers.
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 "Access point" from now on. To do this:
- set your client computer to obtain its IP automatically (default behavior in Windows)
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:
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:
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.
by FenriX - 2017-05-06 09:16
Hi! I was reading your guide and it's kinda what i'm looking for, my problem is that the LAN cable that connect me to the Subnet only works with a static and public ip and dns
And i can't access to the device that manage the next hop
Is it possible to setup a router with your guide to work with a lan cable that requires static and public ip and dns?
by toshibasupport - 2017-06-26 02:12
by SEA5 - 2018-10-12 13:12
by Beginner - 2021-03-14 15:17
Best instructions so far! Fixed router IP address and the actual IPs that the router assigns must be different ranges is not apparent to beginners like me - a critical little piece of info. Used this tutorial to extend and old broadband router to a bunch of computers upstairs through one ethernet cord - exactly the same instructions. Thank you!
by anonymous - 2021-07-17 14:13
Helped in 2021. Great article. DHCP range in primary to exclude ip of AP and not connecting to WAN port in AP, did the trick for me. Enabling DHCP and creating a new submet in AP worked for me as well, but my upload speeds were horrendous, after strruggling for 4 hours to identify the issue, found this post and in 5 mins voila! Thank u Phillip, u legend!!!
by Philip - 2021-07-18 09:30
by anonymous - 2021-12-19 17:43
by anonymous - 2022-04-04 17:56
You ended the article as if to say "easy was it not ?" What you failed to mention as many of you experts fail to do, is that as soon as you disconnect the ethernet cable, your access point disconnects ie. you are back to square 1. What you described is a cable connection not a purely wireless access point connection like your primary wireless/router. Which is what I think the majority of your readers are actually searching for.
by Philip - 2022-04-04 19:59
Wireless access point, by definition is connected via Ethernet cable to the main router, and serves clients wirelessly.
If you're looking to have a device wirelessly connect to both your main router, and clients, that's called a "repeater" or "extender". There are some disadvantages to those, if they use the same radio to retransmit all communications the speed is usually halved. A better solution is some of the newer mesh devices, with either wired or wireless "backhaul" between them.
by CovertCollin - 2022-08-15 03:05
Hello Phillip, I do appreciate the post and have a question regarding it. Specifically, I am confused about the philosophy in having the wifi channels being different, and also wanted to know if there is ever a situation in which you would want to keep them exactly the same? Th e problem im having is when I move from 1 room to another, the connection doesn't switch from 1 router to the access point seamlessly, and neither does going from the ap to the router. I'm thinking its due to the channels being different, but thats because I don't really know what a wifi channel is. I hope you don't mind helping to guide my understanding a bit here, so that I can get my old but good wifi 5 AC 1900 netgear router to work with my newer yet not my favorite netgear rax120 router. If I could do it over again, I wish I had gone with ubiquity, but didn't know any better back then.
by Philip - 2022-08-25 16:17
Welcome to SG, forums may be better for answering questions, but anyway...
When switching between router and wireless access point, in order to get uninterrupted connection you'd need them to be compatible with each other, and support something called "seamless handoff". This is supported by more modern solutions, mesh network devices, and some routers/aps that are the same brand and specifically list that feature.
It is not related to the exact wireless channel, even if both are usnig the same channel they'd have to support the above feature. I hope this helps.