Should Two Routers be Used on Same Home Network

The internet is an essential part of our daily lives. Having solid connectivity at home is more than just a luxury for many people. Whether you work from home, run a small business from home, or do anything else from home that requires solid internet connectivity, you may have considered whether adding a second router would be a good idea. There are many different articles and also videos posted online about how to properly add a second router to a home network. Some of them will work acceptably and some of them are misleading and will lead to connectivity issues. Should two routers be used on the same home network?

No, two routers should not be used on the same home network. The job of a router is to route traffic between separate networks (subnets) such as your home network and the internet. You do not want any additional routers on your network as it will only lead to issues. Equipment such as ethernet switches and wireless access points can be used to cost effectively expand your network.

Some of the articles / videos that talk about using a second router on your home network exploit the fact that a wireless router is really a router, switch and wireless access point in a single box. If you disable all of the router functionality and set it up properly you will end up with a functional, underperforming, over priced ethernet switch and wireless access point.

The only reason you may wish to consider this is if you are repurposing an old router you already own. Overall I would still shy away from this option. For one thing an older router is likely to have issues, and even if it is working properly. performance will be much lower given the older technology. If you absolutely want to use your old router, here is a link that goes step by step through the process.

Two Routers Same Network

What to do Instead

Determine what your goal is. Are you looking for more ethernet ports, faster Wi-Fi speeds, Wi-Fi coverage in an area with weak coverage, a separate network for guests, better gaming performance, or something else. Depending on your goal there are several solutions that you can use.

As a networking professional I can tell you that I would never daisy chain routers together in any kind of network. It is just not how it is done. Below is a list of common scenarios and how to implement the right solution that saves you time, money, and most importantly frustration. Do it right the first time and be done with it. There is always time / money to do it right, there is never time / money to do it twice. As an IT consultant I can tell you this philosophy is key to virtually everything in life.

  1. Adding more ethernet ports to your router
  2. Extending Your Wi-Fi coverage
  3. Speeding up your Wi-Fi
  4. Improving gaming performance
  5. creating a network for your guests
  6. Adding additional ethernet ports to a different area

Adding More Ethernet Ports

Most home routers come by default with no more than 4 ethernet LAN ports. It is not uncommon to have more than 4 wired devices that you wish to connect to your router. The solution here is to purchase an ethernet switch. Ethernet switches range in size from as small as 5 ports to as large as 48 ports. Get the size you need and hopefully enough to have a few ports left over for future expansion.

Switches come in managed and unmanaged varieties. For most people reading this article, unmanaged is all that is necessary. Managed switches are useful you want to set up VLANs on your network for additional security through segmentation. Setting up VLANs on your home network is beyond the scope of this article but certainly a great idea for max security, especially if you have lots of IoT devices on your network.

Best Unmanaged Switch For Home Networks

Netgear GS305 Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch

Home Ethernet Switch

If you need more ports there is also an 8 port version of this switch. 

Netgear GS308 Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch 

Extending Your Wi-Fi Coverage

Do you live in a larger home and have areas that your Wi-Fi signal simply doesn’t reach? There could be a number of reasons that your Wi-Fi is not extending to a certain part of your home.

Learn More About How Far Wi-Fi Will Reach

There are few ways to extend the range of your Wi-Fi. The best option is to install wireless access points where you need the additional coverage and connect them via ethernet cables back to your main router or switch. This option will always result in the best performance. The only downside is that it requires either having ethernet cables already in place or running ethernet cables to where they are needed. Wireless access points are used both in residential and commercial applications to blanket a building with wireless coverage.

If running ethernet cables is out of the question for you another great option is to use wireless access points connected via powerline networking adapters. In many cases this works nearly as well as having the access points connected directly via ethernet.

A third option, and one that is growing in popularity is to replace your router with a mesh system. Mesh Wi-Fi is a growing trend in recent years. Mesh can help to cover areas that need additional coverage by using mesh points. Although mesh is a trendy option, performance is never as good as using traditional wireless access points hardwired back to a common switch or router.

The final option, and an option that should be avoided at all costs, is to use a Wi-Fi extender or Wi-Fi booster. These devices rarely work as intended. In most cases they actually make things much worse in terms of performance. A Wi-Fi booster or extender is a device that you place near the edge of your Wi-FI signal. The booster than rebroadcasts the signal to extend the range of the signal. Good in theory, but in practice it works poorly at best.

Best Wireless Access Point For Home Networks

Ubiquiti Unifi U6 Lite Wireless Access Point

Home Wireless Access Point

Speeding Up Your Wi-Fi

If you are looking to speed up your Wi-Fi it may be time to look at replacing your router. This is especially true if you have an older router that does not support the 5GHz frequency band. Getting a newer router will likely result in faster Wi-Fi speeds. If you recently purchased a new router and you speeds are still kind of slow you may need to adjust the settings within your routers dashboard.

Another option would be to turn off the Wi-Fi function of your current router and get a wireless access point to handle your wireless needs. In many cases this will result in better performance. often times the wireless technology built into a consumer grade Wi-Fi router just isn’t of the highest quality. A home wireless router is esentially a low cost router with limited functionality, a tiny switch, and a less than great wireless access point all bundled into a tiny little box that can be sold as cheaply as possible to consumers.

If you want to get the best performance, consider separating out the functions of your existing router into 3 separate devices. Get a high quality wired router that has all the functions you need, a reasonably priced yet good quality ethernet switch, and a good quality wireless access point. If you need to cover a larger area with Wi-Fi get additional access points for each area that you need additional coverage. When choosing a switch get one with enough ports to have a few open for future expansion. You will be surprised to learn that you can buy all of this equipment for less money than a trendy mesh Wi-Fi system that offers less performance.

Fast Internet Speed Test

Improving Gaming Performance

The single best way to improve gaming performance is to connect your gaming device via a hardwired ethernet connection. The next best thing is to connect you gaming system using a powerline ethernet adaptor. If you have an existing ethernet connection near your console but another device is plugged into it, the best thing to do would be to purchase a small 5 port ethernet switch and then connect both devices. This is extremely simple and requires absolutely no configuration at all.

If you absolutely must use Wi-Fi to connect your gaming rig. get it as close to your wireless router or wireless access point as possible. Ensure that you are using the 5GHz band. This can literally double or even triple the speeds you are getting.

Learn More About Ethernet vs Wi=Fi For Gaming

PS5 Ethernet Port Speed

Creating a Network For Your Guests

Offering you guests a guest Wi-Fi network is a great thing, both for you and for your guests. For your guests it offers them a fast, reliable, and secure means of connecting to the internet. For you it offers protection from having your guests connected to the same network your devices are connected to. With a guest Wi-Fi networks your guests can use your internet connection safely, without putting your personal devices at risk. For example a malware infected laptop that your friends brings over can’t spread its malware to your devices through the network.

The simplest way to provide guest Wi-Fi is to enable the guest Wi-Fi functionality on your router. Most routers offer this functionality. If your router lacks this feature it is likely worth upgrading your router anyways. 99% of routers that are anything better than 5 year old devices you picked up for free off of the side of the road will have this capability. Don’t overcomplicate things for yourself. Enable the guest network, set a different password for the guest Wi-Fi, and keep your network safe and secure.

Adding Ports to a Different Location

If you have an area that has a single ethernet port and you would like to connect additional ethernet devices, get a small switch. A switch will allow all of your devices to connect to the same network, exactly the same way they would if they were connected to the back of your router. The LAN ports on the back of your router is nothing more than a low quality switch anyways.

Once you add a switch you can connect as many devices at that location as you would like. If you also want better wireless signal in that area, consider getting a wireless access point and connecting that to your switch. Now you will have expanded both your wired network and your wireless network.

Ethernet Swatch

Conclusion

Two routers should not be used on the same home network. The job of a router is to route traffic between separate networks (subnets) such as your home network and the internet. You do not want any additional routers on your network as it will only lead to issues. If you need to add ports to you network use a switch, if you need to expand your wireless coverage get a wireless access point, if you want to extend your network without running ethernet cables look into powerline networking.

FAQ

How do I setup 2 routers on the same network

You do not want to set up 2 routers on the same network. Routers are used to route between different networks. There is no reason to have 2 routers on the same network. If you need to add ethernet ports to your network use an ethernet switch. If you need more wireless coverage use a access point.

How do I set up a second router

You do not want to use a second router on the same network. Routers are used to route between different networks. There is no reason to have a second router on the same network. If you need to add ethernet ports to your network use an ethernet switch. If you need more wireless coverage use a access point.

Can having 2 routers cause problems

Yes, having 2 routers can cause a whole host of problems. The most common problem is Double NAT. This is extremely common when using 2 routers. It can negatively impact performance and stability. Another common issue is wireless interference if the channels are not set up properly.

Can I use 2 routers to extend my wireless range

The best way to extend wireless range is to plug a wireless access point into you existing router and locate the access point where additional wireless coverages is needed. You do not want to use two routers on the same network as routers are used to connect separate networks together.

Will adding a second router increase speed

No adding a second router is almost never a good idea. If you speeds are slow you have a different issue. If you need additional wireless coverage purchase a wireless access point and connect it to you router. Using a second router is not a good practice and should be avoided.

Can 2 routers be used with 1 modem

You cannot use two routers with one modem unless you getting more than one public (WAN) IP address from your internet service provider (ISP) Chances are if you do get more than one public IP you would already know it because you would see it on your internet bill each month.

Can you use router as wifi extender

Most routers do not have the capability to function as a WI-Fi extender. IF you need to extend the range of your wireless network there are products that are specifically designed for this purpose. Do not try yo use an old router as a WiFI extender.

Which is better Wi-Fi repeater or extender

Generally they are both bad options. What you want to do is use a wireless access point connected to your main network using an ethernet cable. If you are unable to run an ethernet cable to where the wireless access point need to be look into using a powerline networking kit.