Guest network, bridges & access points, Linksys

For several years I've successfully used a stock Linksys WRT1900ACS v.1 router for my 2400 sf home, with a Linksys range extender and guest network mainly used in a small (240 sf) guest cottage about 30 ft. from the main house. But during the COVID period I've received complaints about the network being very slow in the cottage.

So I purchased a Linksys WRT3200ACM router, planning to move the 1900 to a bedroom in the main house much closer to the cottage and use it to boost the signal in the cottage. The 3200 would take over as the master router, and the 1900 would connect to it via ethernet cable, as the house is wired for LAN.

My plan was to bring up the system using stock Linksys firmware and then switch over to OpenWrt to gain more control and boost the signals. But I've run into trouble with the Linksys routers. If I correctly understand the Linksys tech support agent's explanation, in bridge mode the routers don't support guest networks, and as access points they are essentially independent routers that simply run their own, independent networks. In contrast, I would prefer to seamlessly extend the reach of the two private network channels (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz) and the single 2.4 GHz guest network on the 3200.

Today I spent almost 4 hrs. on the phone with Linksys tech support, mainly because the 1900 had connectivity issues after I reconfigured it according to the support agent's instructions. But this has me wondering. It seems even after we solve the connectivity issue, the stock Linksys firmware still won't provide the kind of system I need. It makes me wonder if it's worth the effort just to implement an unsatisfactory architecture.

This leads to my question(s). First, stepping back to look at the overall problem, what's the best way to improve the the guest network's performance in the guest cottage? Second, assuming the second (WRT1900ACS) router plays a major role in the solution, exactly how should it do so? Third, can OpenWrt provide a more satisfactory solution than the stock Linksys firmware can? How?

Fourth, a more general question: if one's WiFi network is down while installing and configuring OpenWrt, how should one follow the instructions?

While I'm rather skilled at general computing, with networking I'm at most at an "intermediate" level. With OpenWrt, or any form of third-party firmware, I'm a rank novice. So please answer at a suitable level ("OpenWrt Guest Networks for Almost Dummies").


I would say internet - 3200 - lan cable - 1900 - wifi -> cottage


More flexibility with the solutions. Not sure about the radio though.

I guess you can print the instructions and download in advance the image file.

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Thanks, trendy. This is very helpful.

For you and other readers, FWIW, I should have mentioned that my first question, about general ways of improving reception in the cottage, is not restricted to the equipment I already have. This problem has become a big enough headache that I'd be willing to invest a bit more for an effective, reliable, easy-to-implement solution.

The wrt3200 and 1900 both use similar chipsets for the radios, and the drivers are less than fully reliable both in stock and OpenWrt

They both have v fast cpu and work well as wired routers though.

Start with installing OpenWrt on both and doing

The 1900 will be in AP mode which basically means the lan cable goes to a LAN port and the DHCP functions turned off.

This likely will solve your issue but if it doesn't consider that the wifi on those devices is flaky and you could use the 3200 as a wired only router (turn off the wifi) and add 2 access points. I like the EAP225 that I'm running. Best network upgrade I've done was ditch Wrt32x in favor of those

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Consider the ubiquity unifi access points. They support mesh, so one at the bedroom can be connected by cable and the one in the cottage can backhaul wirelessly to the bedroom AP. And you can add more APs in the rest of the main house for better overall coverage. They also support guest wifi and they work fine with an OpenWrt router, so you don't need to invest in the whole unifi ecosystem.

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@Swampy, EAP225 also support mesh, so either one is a great choice using @trendy's suggested topology.

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Assuming that you have just bought the wrt3200acm, it might still be a better option to consider returning it before installing OpenWrt. As mentioned by dlakelan, the mwlwifi drivers used by wrt1900ac and wrt3200acm are rather buggy and problematic, with zero expectations for future improvements - so if you care about the wireless reliability and performance, and can still return the device at no loss, there might be better options. These routers are really fast and capable for wired routing, but their wireless side -while impressive on paper and great under the right circumstances- is very problematic to say the least.


Indeed, @Swampy return the WRT3200 if you can, and the WRT1900 can do the wired portion of the routing just fine... add in some EAPs or Ubiquiti access points, and you've got a better solution for less money.

Unfortunately, I don't think returning the 3200 is an option. I got a really good price on it ($200), but I made the mistake of ordering it from the Mercari e-Commerce site. I thought it was a direct sales site, like a lesser-known Amazon, but it turned out to be merely an intermediary marketplace. The actual seller appears to be a small gift shop in southern California that somehow came to possess the 3200.

I should also mention that I'm now having trouble with the 1900. Its power light does not come on. I hope it's only the power supply.

Nonetheless, I'll look into returning the 3200. If I were to return it, what router would you suggest using instead? (Both wired and WiFi are important.)

BTW, I used the 1900 as my sole router for 3 1/2 years and never noticed any problem with its WiFi. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention.

Sounds like there could be hardware issues with your 1900. That often is the power supply, but of course the CPU or memory can also become dodgy.

The first thing to consider when specifying hardware is the ISP speed. As others said, in a wired role as a main router, a 3200 has enough CPU to keep up even with a Gb connection. It's just not that great at wireless.

If your ISP is in the 100 Mb range and not likely to increase soon, various MT7621 + MT7615 based routers fit that market segment.


We currently have 150 service. Would this change your recommendation?