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Bridging Networks using TP-Link Routers

Recently I wanted to set up a wireless network bridge between my garage and house without running any Ethernet cables. To do this I purchased a TP-Link TL-WR841ND 300Mbps Wireless N Router with hopes that it could talk to my existing router/access point in the house. The TP-Link supports a mode called WDS which enables bridging two or more wireless LANs.

When WDS is enabled, it causes the remote access point to act as a bridge for both wired and wireless clients. This way a network can easily be expanded without a lot of trouble of extra wiring. Wireless clients can connect to the remote access point and benefit by the increased wireless coverage area as well.

I first tried associating the garage router with my existing TP-Link DSL modem/router, but it turns out that a remote bridge must connect using WEP encryption instead of WPA2, so that wasn’t secure enough for my desires. Testing using WEP showed the bridge working exactly as expected.

To get WPA2 encryption working, I tried associating the remote access point with a 2wire router also in the house. The WDS connection was established, but the firewall in the 2wire would not allow connections to any devices other than the access point.

So in an attempt to combine the two methods, I purchased a second TL-WR841ND wireless router to live in the house and provide the final hop to the Internet for the remote access point.

To set up the network, I first connected the new house access point directly to a computer with an Ethernet cable, opened http://192.168.1.1/ on a browser, and made the following configuration changes:

  • Under the DHCP tab, select Disable for the DHCP server, then click Save.
  • Under the Forwarding -> UPnP tab, click the Disable button.
  • Under the Wireless -> Wireless Settings tab, enter the following settings:
    • SSID: name of new (bridge) network
    • Region: enter the appropriate region for your location
    • Channel: enter the number of the least-congested channel in your area
    • Mode: 11bgn mixed
    • Channel Width: Auto
    • Max Tx Rate: 300Mbps
    • Enable Wireless Router Radio: checked
    • Enable SSID Broadcast: checked
    • Enable WDS: unchecked (WDS is only enabled on the remote access point)
    • Click Save
  • Under the Wireless -> Wireless Security tab, enter the following settings:
    • SelectWPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
    • Version: WPA2-PSK
    • Encryption: AES
    • PSK Password: chose a password for your network
    • Group Key Update Period: 0
  • Under the Network -> LAN tab, enter an IP address for the new access point, click Save, then click reboot.

Once that was done, I was ready to connect the new house access point into the network using one of the four LAN Ethernet ports on the back of the device. I connected to the new access point using a laptop to verify that everything was working as expected, then moved on to configuring the garage access point.

The garage access point is configured similarly to above, with only a few changes:

  • Under the DHCP tab, select Disable for the DHCP server, then click Save.
  • Under the Forwarding -> UPnP tab, click the Disable button.
  • Under the Wireless -> Wireless Settings tab, enter the following settings:
    • SSID: name of new remote AP network
    • Region: enter the appropriate region for your location
    • Channel: same as house AP
    • Mode: 11bgn mixed
    • Channel Width: Auto
    • Max Tx Rate: 300Mbps
    • Enable Wireless Router Radio: checked
    • Enable SSID Broadcast: checked
    • Enable WDS: checked
    • Click Survey to find the access point created above, click Connect to connect to the house AP
    • Key type: same as house AP
    • Password: same as house AP
    • Click Save
  • Under the Wireless -> Wireless Security tab, enter the following settings:
    • SelectWPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
    • Version: WPA2-PSK
    • Encryption: AES
    • PSK Password: chose a password for your network
    • Group Key Update Period: 0
  • Under the Network -> LAN tab, enter an IP address for the new access point, click Save, then click reboot.

I then connected a computer to the garage access point using an Ethernet cable and suddenly, I was online through the bridge. I also tested a wireless connection with the garage AP and was able connect to the Internet using the remote wireless as well.

Now all devices on the network are able to communicate (including wired-only devices in the garage, thanks to the built-in 4-port switch). This enables me to move my extra devices to the garage and remove some noise from the house.

Using WDS ended up being relatively simple, but I must warn you that WDS does not work very well across different vendors (or even different models of the same vendor as I found above). I recommend using all of the same model of access points to have this work best.

41 replies on “Bridging Networks using TP-Link Routers”

Hi, dear

At first router
“Under the Network -> LAN tab, enter an IP address for the new access point…”
At garage router
“Under the Network -> LAN tab, enter an IP address for the new access point…”
But dear, let me know which IP you enter – different for both routers or only one.
Also when you disable the DHCP, mean this that you can connect a devices with static IP in the scope of the disabled DHCP ? As example .xxx.xxx.xxx.199 if the disabled DHCP by default is .100-.200 ?!

You select a different IP address for each access point.

I disable the DHCP server and change the IP address on both access points as they are just acting as pieces of network equipment. There is a separate router on the network that actually has a connection to the Internet and serves DHCP. Being that most networks still have DHCP being served, you should pick an IP address outside of the DHCP pool for each access point.

If you’re using the “house” access point as the main Internet router, you don’t need to change its IP address or disable the DHCP server.

Everything is simple. You have main wireless router and it is only DHCP in the bigger system.
Let’s say master. And we have another router (slave1) that has not its own dhcp and it is connected to Master /that runs with WDS off/. Another remote router (slave2) has to be also dhcp off and has to be connected not on the Master, but on the slave1. It is also important to fix the same channel on every device in system.
So, we have got a system where Master gives a dhcp leases to itself, and to slave1 and slave2. Also, it is relative if you will connect on any of the routers, it;s only a way how to prolong internet connection on bigger area without using cables at all.
Good luck. It works.
Bobby

Also, all routers have to be in the same subnet (192.168.100.1 , 192.168.100.2, …) which is outside dhcp range on Master /which is for example 192.168.100.50 – 192.168.100.150/

Hi, I have the following situation: Existing TP-Link AP(router1) with some wireless clients, I’m planning to connect a TL-WR841N router to it as client using “Enable WDS” option, and also keeping the existing wireless clients on router1.What do you think it might work ?
Thanks!

Yes, it will work. Clients that already know about router1 will continue to use router1. If you associate a client with router2, then it will use router2. Router1 will continue to work as it did before adding router2 to the network.

That’s great, thanks, one more question do you know if it’s possible to change wlan mac address for TL-WR841N router ?
Thank you once again!

My ISP has WiFi Filtering enabled, but np I can request to change my wlan MAC.What about DD-WRT do you know if it is compatible with TL-WR841N ? because I’ve seen post only for TL-WR841ND.

Do you mean MAC filtering for the WAN interface? The TL-WR841ND does allow you to change the WAN MAC address. Simply go to ‘Network’ then ‘MAC Clone’ and you can configure a different MAC address.

I haven’t tried DD-WRT so I can’t answer whether it works or not.

I’m trying to fix my as a slave 1 as u called. Using cable bridge. First I~ve configured my slave1 as my principal. It worked but sometimes I didnt have signal of internet.
I haqve tryed your configuration but haven’t worked yet.
When I plug a cable at my slave 1, the internet is ok. but while using wireless acess doesn’t work at all. Please help me up,

Thanks to your precious help I was able to connect in WDS my two TL-WR841N. Previously I tried many others guides but with no luck. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

I believe the remote access point can use the same SSID as the main access point, but I’m not 100% sure. Should be pretty harmless to test and see if it does the right thing.

hello, i have a cuestion, ¿it is necesary to get dhcp disabled on the AP router, if dhcp is enabled on the main router, the 2nd (wds’ed router) wont work?, also, in order to the 2nd router transmit wi fi, it needs to broadcast other SSID rather than the one on the main router?, thank u very much 🙂

No, you should not enable the DHCP server on the remote AP/router. The only DHCP server on your network should be the main router. If both routers have the DHCP server enabled, you’ll run into problems.

Your remote AP/router can broadcast the same SSID as the main router if you like. WDS connects the routers together by MAC address rather than SSID, so the routers will not be confused by both having the same SSID. A computer will simply connect to the AP with the best signal for the given SSID.

hi, i keep getting this notice when i tried to save the setting : Please use the WiFi switch on this device to enable/disable radio: i have checked the button on the device, it is already on. what should i do next?

Hi, I am currently using Linksys WRT160N as root router and TL-WR841ND as access point router. I followed your instruction above and make sure every setting matched. however, root router connect to internet ok, but not the TP link router. Any suggestion??

Unfortunately I can’t help. My instructions are for using two TL-WR841ND routers only. Using another brand or model of router is outside the scope of my instructions. I originally tried using a different brand of upstream router and ran into a number of problems.

The biggest issue is that WDS/bridging isn’t really standardized, so each vender has a different interpretation of how to make it work. If you want bridging to work, I highly recommend using the exact same brand and model of routers at each end of the connection.

hi Shane, I have a dual band router N900 as the main router connected to my desktop and other router TL-WR841ND,which I am trying to bridge . I have done all the necessary steps to connect the wifi on bridging. But, when one of the routers are switched off and then switched on again ,then the TL-WR841ND router bridging does not work. I have to do the set up again on TL-WR841ND (which is the AP). please help , how can it be possible to keep the two routers connected automatically even after the routers are switched on again.

Thanks & Regards

Sorry, but I don’t have any advice to fix the problems you are experiencing. You’re fortunate that bridging is even working across different models of routers, as WDS isn’t standardized. I highly recommend using two of the same model of router to avoid problems.

Hi Shane.
I have a similar setup. and im using 3 TL-WR841ND routers.
One of them is my main internet router, and with the others i would like to make a bridge to my garage. With the setup you provided this should work without problems? How do i connect the third router so i can have wifi in the garage? do i connect its wan port to an ethernet port on the second router?
Any help would be much apreciated. Thank you in advance.

You should be able to set up a bridge to your garage fine using the instructions I have provided. If you want WiFi in the garage (besides the bridge), you can either set up a third router as a dedicated AP or you can set your bridge router to also broadcast as an AP. The only drawback is the bridge connection and the garage WiFi must share a channel.

Hi Shane! thanks a lot for this tutorial. I’m trying to get my setup working but running into bit of a problem. My main router is a TD-W8961ND and I bought a TL-WR841N to use as WIRED (not WSD) access point to cover my living room/kitchen.
I think I’ve done everything right but I’m having some troubles:

1- The connection to the AP seems inconsistent and it comes and goes.
2- I can’t access the web interface of my MASTER router (8961) from my wired computer (it’s 192.168.1.1) but CAN access my slave router (841) (192.168.1.2) why is that?
3- What works better? using same SSID or two different ones? I know it’s the same wireless network but sometimes devices have troubles connecting/disconnecting from one hot stop to another one.

Thanks a lot for everything and excuse my poor english, I’m from Argentina.

Sorry, but I’m unable to help with specific troubleshooting of your network. You can use the same SSID on both access points if you desire (provided both APs are stable). Your devices will simply use whichever has a stronger signal.

Hi Shane,
I have just been researching for hours, trying to find out which routers support WDS using WPA. Wow it was tough to get any information!!
Thank you for this post. I had already purchased one TL-WR841N with a goal to bridge it to my main Netgear router, but the Netgear only supports WEP security in bridge mode.
Based on your post, I will buy another 841N tomorrow to complete my bridge.
Cheers
Pete

I bought the second 841N, but cannot get the routers to bridge, even after very carefully following the instruction above. Might be something to do with v9 firmware I am running, or could be that the TP-Link login cannot handle 2 simultaneous connections.
Getting pretty frustrated after rebooting and resetting the routers or over 3 hours to no avail.
Maybe it’s just time to take these units back.
Pete

I’m not sure what has changed in the v9 firmware. I don’t remember what firmware version I was running when I had this working (maybe v7). Unfortunately I haven’t been using this bridging setup in a few years, so I can’t help debug.

I will try it one more time tonight, taking it step by step.
I can see the SSID from the first router, but I don’t get connectivity through the bridge.
If I am successful, I will post what I had to do.
Pete

Hi Shane
I think you have a great network setup. I need some help. I have a modem/router combined from my ISP.
I have bought Two Tplink router. One is the same model as yours and other one is dual band. I am thinking to disable wifi of the modem. Use dual band router as main router and TL 841nd as WDS bridge. Default ip address of tplink is 198.168.1.1 so which ip address should I use for bringing router?

Is it possible to have a roaming network between two tplink after this kind of setup with having a same SSID?
Thanks

You must use a different IP address for each device on your network. For example, you could use 192.168.1.2 or .3 for your TP-Link routers, leaving the main router at .1

Yes, you can set the same SSID on each TP-Link and client devices will roam between the two access points.

I tried several websites with instructions for how to set up a TP-LINK TL-WR841N as a bridge. This one worked. The UPnP is the key, I believe. I tried it over and over, but it didn’t work until I disabled UPnP.

Had to fiddle a little on the obviously updated firmware/ web interface but got it working like a dream. Thanks for the detailed instructions.

FYI: After several resets, I found the best thing was to do it one step at a time setting up the ap first and checking it had saved at each stage then doing the WDS stuff.

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