This can be a very confusing topic to discuss, as it’s not always clear exactly what Wi-Fi extenders/repeaters are on a home network, and where they stand. Are they just the same as any other connecting device like a phone/PC, or do they act more like a “mini router” and give/assign IP addresses themselves? Do they even have their own IP address on a local network? How exactly do they interact with the router settings?
This is what we’ll answer in this article. The bottom line on this is that the router is still in charge of the network in a broader sense, even if some devices are connecting indirectly to the router via an extender.
A Wi-Fi extender will take it’s own local IP from the available pool of IP addresses the router can issue, just like any other connecting device. However, an extender cannot issue IP addresses of it’s own, and instead merely reflects in it’s interface the private IP addresses indirectly issued to devices by the main router.
In other words, a Wi-Fi extender is really only a conduit or bridging device within the home network, providing a separate access point that may be more reliable for certain devices. But it doesn’t get involved in any of the management of the home network, which is still carried out only by the main router.
A Wi-Fi Extender Is Just Another Device On The Router’s Network
Let’s use a simple example diagram of a home network to illustrate where Wi-Fi extenders stand on the local network.
See the graphic below, with the main router/ISP connection on the left, and all connecting devices in the home on the right, with their own unique local IP address:
When you connect a Wi-Fi extender to your router, you can just class it as another one of the devices on the right, which will get issued with it’s own local IP address, with the last digit different to all other devices in the home. The router just classes it as another connecting device, and will give it it’s own unique private IP not already in use (eg. in this example, it might get given 192.168.0.200).
However, it is still a little bit confusing, since the Wi-Fi extender will create it’s own access point, with it’s own SSID (similar to your router, but not exactly the same), that you can connect to. In this sense, it is creating it’s own “network”, but at the same time it’s still on the same home network as the router.
Devices can of course connect to the extender’s network rather than the router if they get a better signal from it (that’s the whole idea of extenders/repeaters), but they’re still technically on the same home network, and both the router and extender are still using IP addresses from the same DHCP pool that belongs to the router (eg. 192.168.0.1-254, where each devices takes a different last digit between 1-254).
In other words, the Wi-Fi extender takes it’s own local IP from the router’s pool, but it doesn’t in turn create it’s own pool of local IP address. It just uses the router’s DHCP address pool.
Does Your Wi-Fi Extender Issue Devices With A New Local IP Address?
This is something I was curious about and wanted to test out. Does a device’s local IP address change when you connect to a Wi-Fi extender? When you switch connections and disconnect from the main router and instead connect to the Wi-Fi extender which is connected to the router, does the extender then issue that device with a new local IP address on the home network?
My intuition on this was no, as the job of assigning local IP addresses normally belongs to the router, not the extender or any other device used within the local network. But there’s some nuance to the issue, and the answer is both yes and no in a certain way.
Your device’s local IP address will change if you disconnect from the router and connect to a Wi-Fi extender instead.
I just tested this on my phone, and when connected to the router, the local IP was 192.168.0.211. Then when I connected to the extender that is in turn connected to the router, I checked again and my phone’s local IP had changed to 192.168.0.221.
Therefore, connecting to an extender does change the IP address, but it isn’t the extender that is issuing the new local IP. It’s the router, and the extender does passes on or forwards data/settings from the router. When a device disconnects from the router and connects to an extender instead, the router sees this as a new connection that has been made on the home network, and therefore issues a new IP address to the device via the extender’s connection.
And remember, as we covered above, all these IP address are all coming from the same “pool” of available addresses for all devices on the same home network, whether they are connecting directly to the router, or indirectly via a Wi-Fi extender/booster. It’s always the router that handles the assigning of local IP addresses, never the extender.
In other words, the extender is just really a forwarding device on the local network that’s sending data on from the router, and reflecting router settings in what it may show to users in it’s own settings interface. In other words, you can log in to your extender’s admin/settings panel, and view the local IP of connected devices on the Clients list, but this is really just displaying and copying the IPs that the main router has issued to the devices, not the extender itself.
In other words, Wi-Fi extenders don’t get involved in the job of assigning local IP addresses to connecting devices, and instead just reflect and display what the router has assigned within their own interface.
Is The LAN IP Of The Extender The Same As Your Router?
We’ve already effectively answered this question, but this is another way the question can be phrased on whether routers and Wi-Fi extenders can be seen as one and the same device on a network. Is the local/LAN IP of a router the same as that of your extender? Does your repeater just take the same LAN IP as your router?
The LAN IP of a Wi-Fi extender is not and can never be the same as the router, as this would cause an IP conflict on the home network. The router takes it’s own LAN IP, and issues a separate local IP to the extender, which will always be different and unique on the network as with every other device.
Let’s compare and contrast the LAN IP of the router/extender:
Main router – Always takes it own LAN IP which is very often a predictable number that you will have often seen (eg. 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1) and is also referred to as the default gateway for your router. It’s most often the first IP on it’s entire DHCP range (eg. 192.168.0.1-255), and it’s what you type into a browser address bar to begin the login process to the router settings (hence why it’s called it’s IP address – it’s where you “find” the router on the home network, and what you punch into a browser to take you to it’s settings page).
Wi-Fi extender/booster/repeater – Is issued it’s own local IP address somewhere within the rest of the router’s DHCP range (eg. 192.168.0.1-254), and will always be different to the router. with the last number being something not being currently used by any other device on the local network. For example, if 192.168.0.100 is free, the router might give it that, but it could be any other free local IP as well.
You can test this but connecting to the router settings, and viewing the Devices/Clients tab. You’ll see the extender will be there on the list as it’s own device, and been issued it’s own unique local IP by the router.
Does Using A Wi-Fi Extender Change Your Public IP Address?
Everything we’ve covered so far concerns the private/local IP address of devices within a home network (often in that 192.168.x.x format).
But there are also public IP addresses issued to routers/homes; these are the ones that display to the outside world and show up when you use one of those “what is my IP” lookup tools. Does using a Wi-Fi extender/repeater change these IP addresses?
Using a Wi-Fi extender has no effect on your public IP address, which is issued to the main router only by your ISP and is not impacted by the use of devices within the local network. Wi-Fi extenders or other devices used solely within a local network are not issued public IP addresses under the IPv4 protocol.
Therefore, Wi-Fi repeaters don’t really have anything to do with public IP addresses, since they’re devices which act as a conduit to forward data within the local network in the home, but aren’t really concerned with, or affected by, anything going on outside the local network regarding public IP address changes. Public IP addresses belong to routers or residences only.
You can test this if you like by first connecting a device to your main host router, and then using one of those IP lookup tools to display your public IP address. Then, connect to an extender instead, which is in turn connected to your main router, and use the tool again. As long as you haven’t changed any other factors within your network, like factory resetting your router or using a VPN, the public IP should be exactly the same, since it’s the router that’s issued this, not the extender, which is just forwarding data to/from the router.
This issue can be really confusing, so let’s break down everything covered so far into a few simple questions and answers:
- Does an extender function like a router? – No. It’s a forwarding device only, not a network setup/management device.
- Does an extender have it’s own IP address? – Yes. It takes it’s own local IP from the available pool as with any other device you connect to the router.
- Does an extender give out it’s own IP addresses? No. That’s the job of the router only. The extender just displays/reflects what the router does with it’s assignment.
- Does your local IP change when you connect to an extender? Yes, but it’s the router that issues the new IP address, not the extender, which just reflects what the router does.
- Does an extender influence the public IP? No. That’s issued to your router only by your ISP.