The range of your wireless router depends on many factors like the type of your router (802.11g or 802.11n), walls and other things that obstruct Wi-Fi signals in the area.

Although the 802.11n router typically have a higher range, it may sometimes be difficult to get a good signal in certain areas of your house like your first floor bedroom or the corner study room.

There are many ways to increase the range of your existing Wi-Fi router. But if these doesn't work and you have a spare wireless router, then you can easily extend your existing home network without spending anything for boosters or repeaters.

The trick is to connect the second router to your existing one with an Ethernet cable and make both transmit the same signal. This way, we are not creating a new network, but expanding the existing Wi-Fi network to improve the range.

Consider a house with layout as below. There is a router in room-1 which is the main router connected to the ISP provide modem. Consider that have good signal in room-2, but the signal is quite weak in room-3 as it is far off and separated by more walls. Let's see how we can connect a second router in say room 2 so that the wireless network reaches in room-3 as well with good strength.

1. Note down settings of main router

  • First we need to find the IP address of the main router in room-1. You can get this with the following command to be run from your command prompt or your windows run box.
    cmd /k ipconfig
    After running the command, the value of "Default Gateway" shown is the IP address. Assume for now that your routers IP address is 192.168.30.1. Also note the value of "Subnet Mask" which is usually 255.255.255.0.
  • Now open a web browser and type in the routers IP address with http:// added. E.g.
    http://192.168.30.1
    You might be asked to provide a username/password. The usual values for most routers are "admin/admin", "admin/password" or "admin/<blank> (no password)". If you are not able to get in with any of these, just Google for "<router_brand> default router password" and you should get it.
  • Once in, note down the following from wireless settings tab.
    1. Wireless mode
    2. SSID
    3. Channel
    4. Security mode(WPA, WPA2, WEP etc) and the password if you have protected your Wi-Fi with password.

2. Configure second router

Next we need to configure our second router.

  • First press on the reset button of the second router for 10 seconds to reset all settings. Now connect it to your laptop with an Ethernet cable (one end to any one of router's LAN ports and other to your laptop Ethernet port).
  • Open a web browser and type http://192.168.1.1 which is the default IP address of the second router. This may vary depending on your router vendor. E.g.
    1. Linksys - 192.168.1.1
    2. Netgear - 192.168.0.1
    3. D-Link - 192.168.1.1
    Once in, change the values of SSID, Wireless mode, channel, security mode and the password to match the first router. These values need to be the same for both routers and any mismatch could cause our setup not to work.

    Then go to Setup->Advanced Routing and change the mode from Gateway to Router. Next disable DHCP server. All the dynamic IP allocations should be done from the first router alone.
    Once done, change the IP address of the second router to any free address like 192.168.30.10. Also make sure the subnet mask also matches the first router and save settings.

3. Connect both routers

Now we are ready to connect both routers. There are two connections to be made.
First, connect any one LAN port of first router with any one LAN port of second router. The WAN port of first router should be connected to the ISP modem and just leave the WAN port of second router free as below.

That's it. Now everything is setup. You can connect your laptop or any other device to the second router and all your shared pictures, videos and files will be accessible. Since we are just expanding the reach of the existing wireless network, no additional configuration changes needs to be done in your laptop or other devices.

Also, you get three additional ports free in your second router, just in case you want to connect more devices to the wireless network using Ethernet Port.