Although I live in a small apartment, I do have walls blocking my WiFi signal access to select remote corners of my rooms.
This is an annoyance I solved with my excellent Google Nest WiFi mesh system, essentially extending my WiFi range with its Nest WiFi points.
However, the most popular Google Nest WiFi setup comes with Google's own router along with one Nest point.
This WiFi router from Google can be a bit of a downgrade for people like me, whose existing router solution is much better specced than Google's.
Personally, It would be ideal for people like me to just get a Nest point and then add it to my existing router to extend my WiFi range and hopefully access Google's features.
With this article, I am attempting to tackle just that and give you proper information on how to do so, its benefits and drawbacks associated.
You can connect a Google Nest WiFi Router to an existing router. However, this is not recommended because it basically renders the existing router useless as the network is channeled to devices via the Google Nest WiFi router. This restricts some key features like Parental Control and MAC Address Filtering due to the active bridging mode.
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You Can Buy a Google Nest Point Separately
This can be hard to notice while buying a Google Nest Wifi setup, but the popular packages always come with one Google router along with one or more nest points.
Listings on popular websites like Amazon only have these package deals, making you believe you can get a Nest WiFi point only as a combo deal.
But Google has silently listed additional Nest points at $149 per pop, and this makes all the difference in the world if you choose to extend your WiFi range.
I have gathered a Target link to just that: Google Nest WiFi Add-On Point.
You Can't Use Nest Points Directly With a Router That Isn't Google's or Nest's
Google's Nest WiFi points are made to communicate with Google's own Nest WiFi routers, so they cannot be directly connected to your existing WiFi router.
This means that getting a WiFi point just to connect with your non-Google router is not a viable solution.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any workaround for a direct connection like this.
A way with which you can connect your existing router to Google Nest WiFi Points is by connecting the points to a Google Router that is in turn connected to your router.
This negates the extra speed/specification gains you get out of your existing router rendering it useless as the signal is channeled through the Google Nest Router anyways.
It could also lead to a host of connectivity issues due to the added complexity of the system.
It also can limit some router features such as parental controls and MAC address filtering natively, although these can be fixed on select router models.
But I have explained how to connect your existing router to a Google Nest WiFi point at a later part of this article.
But what you can do to boost the speeds and connectivity is to use a good quality modem for Google Nest WiFi.
A modem and router are usually used synonymous with each other, but there is a slight difference between the two which is an important distinction in this case.
Modem vs Router
A modem is a receiver end device used to bring the internet connection from your ISP to your home, typically by a coaxial cable connection.
A router is a receiver end device used to bring the internet connection from your modem to your devices, typically via WiFi or ethernet.
Nowadays, ISPs are to blame as they natively provide the modem and router together and this is the reason both are often confused with each other.
Also nowadays, modems and routers sometimes come as a single package confusing consumers even more.
I have made a chart to further explain the core differences between the two:
|Connects your ISP to your home||Connects your home to your devices|
|Incorporates a WAN network||Incorporates a Local Area Network (LAN) network|
|Public IP address||Local IP address|
|Single connection, from ISP to home||Multiple connections, from home to devices|
Modem vs Router
Since a modem and router are separate entities most of the time, if your modem is a very good one you can just replace your router with the Google Nest Router.
How to Connect Your Existing Router to Your Google Nest WiFi Points
To connect your existing router to your Google Nest WiFi points, there are some prerequisites you need to check first:
- Check whether your router supports bridging mode, which is essential to support multiple devices.
- You need Google's Nest WIFi router too, along with your required Nest WiFi points.
To connect your existing router hardware to your Google Nest WiFi, simply follow these steps:
- Connect your existing router to your modem using an ethernet cable.
- Connect the Google Nest WiFi router to your existing WiFi router using an ethernet cable.
Note that doing this the other way around Modem to Google Nest to the existing router wouldn't work while relaying internet connectivity.
Now that we have established the necessary hardware connections between the Google Nest systems and the existing router, they need to communicate with each other.
Set Up Your Routers
The first step is to set up your network between your existing router and Nest router.
Since mesh networks/bridging modes aren't natively enabled out of the box by any router, you need to first enable that by going into the router settings.
To enable bridging mode on your existing router, simply follow these steps:
- Go to your router gateway settings.
This can be accessed by connecting to the WiFi signal from the router on your phone or laptop. Alternatively, you can connect an ethernet cable to your laptop.
Then from the browser, go to your router's admin website. It varies with different router brands, but it is usually accessed by searching 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1.
- Input your router username and password.
Do note that this is different from your WiFi password. You can find all information about it on the router's body.
If there isn't any information available, you can head over here which contains default router passwords for almost all branded routers.
- After you log in as administrator, turn on DHCP server.
This setting is used to assign IP addresses to devices that join this network.
Different routers have different settings pages, so do skim around. The setting would be typically under a Network Setup or LAN Setup banner.
- Enable Bridge mode/WDS/Repeater from the settings, typically under a Connection Mode or Network Mode banner.
This should enable bridging mode and pave a medium of communication between your router and Nest WiFi.
Set Up The Google Nest System
In order to properly set up your Google Nest System, you need the following:
- The Google Nest Router
- Your Nest WiFi Points. You can add upto 32 Nest points for one Nest router.
- A smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android). They should be on iOS 13.0+ or Android 6.0+
- Modem with working internet connection.
To set up the Google Nest router, simply follow these exact steps:
- Connect the modem to your Google Nest Router. In this case, you have to connect your internet enabled existing router to the Nest router.
- Download and install the Google Home app from Android's Play Store or iOS's App Store.
- Open the app and click on the plus (+) icon.
- Click on Create new home to make your own home configuration.
- Click on the Add(+) option again, and choose the New device option inside the Set up device option.
- If your Nest router is connected properly and switched on, it should show up on your Google Home screen.
- A QR scanner would pop up. This is used to scan the QR code on the underside of your Google Nest Router.
- Once connected, follow the steps for naming the room and set up your password.
Doing this will successfully establish your network with the Google servers via the Google Home app. Now to connect the Nest WiFi points, simply follow these exact steps:
- From the Google Home app, Click on the Add(+) option, and choose the New device option inside the Set up device option.
- If your Nest WiFi node/point is connected properly and switched on, it should show up on your Google Home screen.
- A QR scanner would pop up. This is used to scan the QR code on the underside of your Google Nest WiFi point.
- Follow through with the connection process by taping Yes when prompted.
This connects the Nest WiFi point with your Nest WiFi router. You can connect multiple Nest WiFi points based on your requirements.
You can also set up multiple routers instead of one router and multiple points. Each router extends the range by 2200 sq feet and each point extends the range by 1600 sq feet.
Google Nest WiFi is an excellent mesh WiFi solution that ticks all the right boxes while giving some advanced Google smart home features such as Google Assistant.
Unfortunately, you need the Nest Wifi router for the mesh network to properly function. This renders your existing expensive router useless.
But the Nest WiFi router is pretty well specced for the price you pay for it, even though its latest model as of 2022 doesn't support WiFi 6.
Its feature set and compatibility with Google Home is its main USP and this is what sets it properly apart from its competitors.
The best thing about third-party routers is that your ISP doesn't own them, so you can easily donate them to someone who is in need of a router. In my case, it was my Mum.
Google's Nest WiFi handles all my tasks like a champ and I am a happy customer.
I hope my article has been fruitful for you to come to a solid conclusion on whether it is possible to use an external router as the main router to Nest WiFi nodes.
Have a good day!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many Google mesh can I have?
Google Home app supports up to 5 'homes' per account with one WiFi connection per home, and you can create up to five 'homes'.
Each home can support up to 200 devices.
Is the Google Nest WiFi compatible with Google WiFi systems?
Nest WiFi is backward compatible with the Google WiFi systems, and their hardware can be used without any issues on the Nest WiFi.
What is the network coverage distance with Google Nest WiFi points attached?
With only one router, the range is rated to be up to 2200 square feet. With one router and one point, the range is rated to be up to 3800 square feet.
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