How Do I Use My Old Netgear Router As a Wi-Fi Extender?

If your home’s Wi-Fi isn’t reaching the far corners of your property, you may be in need of some savvy tech solutions. Luckily, many older routers can be used to extend your network’s range without the need for expensive powerline adaptors or even a second router. This method is also a lot cheaper and easier to set up than dedicated wireless extenders that connect to your existing Wi-Fi network.

The specific process varies a bit depending on your router model, but most of them will require that you access the secondary router’s admin settings via a web browser or the official app (find the login information on the bottom of the router). Once you have logged in, you should look for a setting that enables the router to act as a Wi-Fi extender, which can be found under the Wireless section of the configuration menu. Its exact phrasing will vary a little depending on the router’s model, but you should find an option called Repeater Mode, Wireless Bridge Mode, Extender Mode, or something similar.

Selecting this will usually prompt the router to reboot and enter extender mode. Once the router restarts, you will be able to connect to its WiFi network by selecting it from your device’s list of available networks and entering the Wi-Fi password or username. Once you’re connected to the extender network, you can use your primary router’s internet connection to access the web in any room of the house.

One downside to this method is that it requires a physical Ethernet cable between the two routers. However, this isn’t a huge problem and the extra performance offered by the cable makes it well worth the minor effort.

Another alternative is to buy a cheap powerline adaptor and connect it to your old router. These devices piggyback on your home’s electrical circuit and carry data over ethernet wires to the far reaches of your home. They’re generally very simple to set up and offer a lot of the same functionality as a second router, though the additional security features that come with a second router aren’t always available with powerline adapters.

If your old router doesn’t have a built-in extender mode, you can still turn it into an extender by using a third-party firmware like DD-WRT or OpenWrt. These free and open source firmware options can enable a wide variety of advanced router functions, including the ability to act as a Wi-Fi extender. This is a great option if your old router has dual-band wireless capabilities, as this will allow it to catch the Wi-Fi signal from your primary router and broadcast it on a separate band so it can be permeated throughout the home with minimal interference. Using your router as an extender will likely take 30 minutes to an hour at most to complete. In addition, this will not work as effectively as a mesh router network and can result in erratic connections in some cases.