In computing, satellites are part of mesh Wi-Fi systems. The more satellites you have, the more wireless coverage you get. However, most residential mesh networks come with two or three satellites.
Because of that, people who have a larger home or want more coverage get two or more mesh networks. A widespread mesh network is Netgear’s Orbi, and a common question is if we can use an Orbi router as a satellite to increase coverage and alternatives to it.
Orbi Router as Satellite
The simple answer of using an Orbi router as a satellite is that we can’t do it, it’s simply not a satellite. You need to understand the difference between a router and a satellite to know why we can’t use a router as a substitute.
How does a router work?
In most descriptions, you’ll find that the router connects to a modem, but most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) provide a router/modem combo. The router connects to an internet access point.
The name is “Router” because it’s like a dispatcher. It routes information to your devices and from your devices to the internet. In more detail, the web page or email, or anything that travels over the internet is reduced to data packets.
Data packets are bits of the web page, email, video, etc. The router makes sure that those data packets reach their destination. They read the address in the data packet’s header and that’s how you get it on your laptop.
How does a satellite work?
A satellite works as an access point. It can be wired or wireless, it doesn’t matter because the only thing a satellite does in a mesh Wi-Fi system is to take the wireless signal from the router, and replicate it through the house.
It’s not like an extender, and it’s not like a router. It’s not like a range extender because it doesn’t emit its own network name. The satellite shares the same SSID of the main router. Also, it’s different from a router because it doesn’t need its own wired access point.
Think of it as an amplifier and a replicator of the main router in your home, that’s how it works. Of course, you can connect it to the router using an Ethernet cable, but it’ll do the same thing, mimic the router using the same IP, SSID, etc.
How to Extend a Mesh Network
Getting an add-on satellite extends your mesh Wi-Fi system for sure, but you have to be careful where you place it. There’s a pretty simple synchronization process to it. You need to position the satellite where you need it.
After that, power on the satellite and push the Sync button on the satellite. You need to push the same button on your router within the next two minutes. If the light on your Orbi satellite turns blue, then everything’s great.
However, getting a different color means that you have to pick a better position for your satellite, move it closer to the router so it gets a better connection.
Daisy chain topology
When you distribute your Orbi satellites using the daisy chain topology, you extend your Wi-Fi system range. This means that the satellites communicate with other satellites that are closer to the router.
There’s a dynamic selection process where your Orbi satellite chooses the best possible connection at any point and establishes it. You can enable the daisy chain by going to www.orbilogin.com. Turn off the satellites first.
Once there, you can go to the ADVANCED tab, expand the Advanced Setup section and select Wireless Settings. Once you do this, you need to look at the bottom of the page where you’ll see Backhaul Topology. You need to check the box that says Enable Daisy-Chain Topology.
Once you do this, click on Apply. When the router resets, you’ll need to turn on the satellites one at a time from closest to the router to farthest from the router.
Alternatives for Orbi Router as Satellite
There are two alternatives for getting additional Orbi satellites. One is putting your router into bridge mode, and the other one is making your router an access point. Either of these can save you money and help you if you’ve already bought another mesh Wi-Fi system to extend coverage.
Both a wireless bridge and an access point can serve the same purpose, but there’s a slight difference between the two. The names say it all. So, let’s look at the difference and how to put our Orbi router into AP (Access Point) mode.
A wireless bridge allows two network segments to connect and share data. Bridge mode can be wired, too. Bridges can also be wireless access points depending on the type of router. If the router is advanced enough, it can perform both functions at once.
Netgear’s Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system has routers that don’t have the bridge mode option. So, there’s not much we can do here, but we can do something with the access point option.
It’s just that, a wireless access point. A point that provides internet access, and we can connect our devices to our routers through the access point. It doesn’t exactly act as a satellite, but it can act as an extender.
It’s more of a hotspot. Here’s the procedure on turning your Orbi router into an access point:
- You can log into your router using www.orbilogin.com.
- Enter the username and password, which are “username” and “password.”
- Select the tab that says ADVANCED.
- Go to Advanced Setup and select AP Mode
- Apply the settings.
If you had trouble logging in, look at the Orbi login guide. After that, the only thing you have to make sure is that your Orbi access point is connected to your Orbi router. It doesn’t exactly work like a satellite, but it can work as an extender.
Recommended reading: Orbi Flashing White Light: What To Do?
Although we can’t use an Orbi router as a satellite, we can definitely extend the mesh network by adding more satellites to improve coverage. If you’ve already bought another Orbi system, maybe an upgrade or you simply bought one for yourself and one for someone else, you can configure one to be an access point.
With an access point, you don’t need to get additional satellites, and you don’t need to get extenders. In conclusion, you can use another Orbi router as something that can extend your network, and you can make it work somewhat as a satellite.
Hey, I’m David. I’ve been working as a wireless network engineer and a network administrator for 15 years. During my studies, I also worked as an ISP field technician – that’s when I met Jeremy.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in network engineering and a master’s degree in computer science and engineering. I’m also a Cisco-certified service provider.
In my professional career, I worked for router/modem manufacturers and internet providers. I like to think that I’m good at explaining network-related issues in simple terms. That’s exactly what I’m doing on this website – I’m making simple and easy-to-follow guides on how to install, set up, and troubleshoot your networking hardware. I also review new network equipment – modems, gateways, switches, routers, extenders, mesh systems, cables, etc.
My goal is to help regular users with their everyday network issues, educate them, and make them less scared of their equipment. In my articles, you can find tips on what to look for when buying new networking hardware, and how to adjust your network settings to get the most out of your wi-fi.
Since my work is closely related to computers, servers, and other network equipment, I like to spend most of my spare time outdoors. When I want to blow off some steam, I like to ride my bike. I also love hiking and swimming. When I need to calm down and clear my mind, my go-to activity is fishing.