Wifi Mesh with OpenWrt or Access Point?


I have a TP link router Archer C1200 (https://www.tp-link.com/fr/home-networking/wifi-router/archer-c1200/) and a TP link Archer C6 (https://www.tp-link.com/fr/home-networking/wifi-router/archer-c6/). I would like to use one router as principal router, and the other one to expand my wifi network with an ethernet cable between these two devices for better stability. For now, I am using the original TP-Link firmware for both devices, and I am wondering if it will be a good idea to go for OpenWRT. However, only the archer C6 is compatible with this alternative firmware, the AC1200 isn't :roll_eyes:

I am a little bit confusing with the mesh configuration, B.A.T.M.A.N option, and 802.11s protocol which seems to be related to mesh configuration. I understood the basics principals between repeater, access point, and mesh configuration. For now, I have used my C1200 as principal router, and the Archer C6 as access point. I have use the same SSID for both routers, but I am not sure that this configuration is the best for roaming and stable wifi. For all, I am not sure to be able to mount a mesh configuration as only one of my router is compatible with OpenWRT ? But it can be an excuse to buy another compatible router :crazy_face:

Could you help me to set up the best Wifi configuration in my case ?

Thanks :+1:

If your router and access point are connected by ethernet then you don't need a mesh setup. You need fast roaming (802.11r).


I have a similar setup using two archer C2600s.

You don't need a mesh setup for this. You just configure your second router as a "Dumb AP" (eg. https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/network/wifi/dumbap). Since you have an ethernet cable for the backhaul this is generally simpler and more performant than mesh.

You will want to enable 802.11r (fast roaming) for faster handoff between your APs. You need to install the "wpad" package in place of "wpad-mini" on both APs, and then turn on 802.11r.


Oh - I forgot to add. Things are a little more complicated if you want to extend multiple SSIDs to the second AP (such as a guest wlan or an IoT wifi). These will need to be bridged with VLANs over the link between the APs.

1 Like

Thanks for your answers, I understand better.

I can't find on the web, is the 802.11r is avalaible for both my router, the Archer C6 and C1200 ? Is it avaliable with the stock firmware, or should I flash the OpenWRT firmware ?

Is it mandatory that both device run OpenWRT ? If yes, I can't do it because I can install OpenWRT on the Archer C1200...

When u want to have guest wifi, you should use VLAN tagging on the Ethernet ports.
Both routers should have OpenWRT - most other router OS wont support mutli-ssid and also no vlan. Also when they support wifi mesh, the use there own proprietary mesh protocol (like AVM does).

Also you don't need to expect that the mesh roams/balances the wifi clients automatically - there is currently no logic who will to that.


And if I don't want any guest network, openwrt is mandatory to use 802.11r?

In that case (extending a single wifi SSID) it is simpler. I don't know if the C6 supports 802.11r out of the box - but I doubt it.

The Dumb AP with openwrt on the C1200 solution will work fine even if 802.11r is not possible. However, you will get short service interruptions when your devices switch between APs. This is noticeable, for example, as a short freeze if you are video conferencing while the device roams onto another AP. I and my family found this perfectly acceptable before I discovered 802.11r :-). In any case, not all clients support 802.11r.

Just remember to setup the wifi on your C1200 to use the same ssid and password as the C6 and use a different channel to the C6 (to minimise interference), either by manually setting the channels or leaving it set at "auto".


It is really hard to find compatibility with the 8021.11r standard. I haven't found the information neither for my smartphone or for both my tplink router.

I have configured my Archer c6 as access point with the original tplink firmware. Is the openwrt dump AP mode is different from the one of TP-link? Or can I simply stay with the actual access point mode from TP-link?

I am no expert with the tp-link operating system (I always put openwrt onto any router I have :slight_smile:), but I believe it should work. The key things is that on the second AP:

  • Reconfigure the LAN interface:
    • assign a static IPv4 address to the LAN interface on AP2
      (eg. - assuming your AP1 is set to
    • set the gateway on AP2 to point to AP1 (eg.
    • set the DNS on AP2 to point to AP1 (eg. or an external DNS if you prefer)
  • disable dhcp (for ipv4 and ipv6) on AP2
  • disable firewall on AP2
  • do not use the WAN port on the second AP
    • plug the cable from your first AP into one of the LAN ports.
    • Note: It is possible to change the wan port into an extra LAN port if you really need (if you are using openwrt!!!)
  • Set SSID and password on AP2 to match that on AP1
  • Use a different channel on AP2 from AP1.

Furthermore - it is perfectly fine to use the same SSID and password on your 2.4GHz and 5GHz wifi radios. Your devices will just select whichever is best.

Cheers, Glenn.

Thanks, I have followed your guide, and it seems to work. On my phone, I can see 2.4/5G, so I think that it switch between the best frequency :slight_smile:

However, between my principal router (Archer C6) and the AP (Archer c1200), the smartphone didn't seem to switch to the other network when the signal is low. I need to disable the wifi on my smartphone for example and enable it again, and then, it choose the strongest signal. But it didn't do it automatically :frowning:

Is it normal?

Thanks again for your help!

Yes, unfortunately that is normal. If you have a a lot of overlap between the coverage area of the router, then you get this. Most phones will persist with a weaker, but adequate signal on an established ssid connection rather than roaming over to the stronger signal. This is still the case if you use 802.11r as well.

There are some apps you can install on your phone that check wifi strength and force the switchover - but I have no experience with those.

Another simple and quite effective approach is to reduce the signal strength of your routers to reduce the area of overlap. You can usually do this without impacting on throughput (which is what really matters). If you do this I recommend using a wifi analyser (eg. Net Analyzer) on android to check you don't have any interference from neighbouring wifi. This actually worked quite well for me.

If you are using openwrt (I don't know about the tp-link firmware), you can also use the "distance" option to reduce the max distance from the router that the device will respond to "ACKs", which causes devices to be kicked off if they are too far away. How effective this will be depends on your router, how far apart the routers are etc.

You should look to the tp-link forums for further help with this - this is an openwrt form after all :wink: . Good luck.

on some android phones you can activate the developer menu and check if there is a option for roaming aggressiveness.