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Google Wifi: How/why to interconnect units via Ethernet

After a mild workaround, you can indeed interconnect Google Wifi units, and it is a supported configuration.

Google Wifi (Google’s own unique graphical representation for this product, with uppercase W and lowercase F) is the official name of the company’s mesh-capable wireless system. This article is not a review, since there is a plethora of them, and Google Wifi is deservedly well regarded in many. This article is to clarify how —and why— multiple Google Wifi units can be interconnected via Ethernet. But before that, I’ll clarify the WiFi mission (standard graphical representation, not Google’s).

Clarifying the WiFi mission

In my opinion, any WiFi system of any brand —or combination of brands— should have the following primary and possibly secondary goals:

  1. Provide adequate coverage throughout the home, office, studio or building (in the case of a hotel or shopping mall) whereby end-users can freely roam within, without the need to be aware s/he is switching between access points, since they all have the same SSID name, password and encryption method, although often are adjusted to be at different frequencies to avoid co-channel interference. This primary network —may or may not— offer dual-band 2.4 and 5 GHz, depending upon whether it is necessary to provide both bands. If offered, those bands can be discretely labeled via the SSID or simply available for a device to choose automatically, in the background, without the user’s intervention or knowledge.
  2. Provide a secondary “Guest” network.

All of the above has been traditionally accomplished either by patient individuals who know the proper procedure (I have done it dozens of times, and have even been flown to México to do it once so far) or via a semi-automated system. The first of those I ever saw was Apple’s now defunct AirPort system (which managed it rather poorly and never included QoS, an embarrassment for Apple). More recently, it is also semi-automated with several mesh systems which are now on the market, one of which is the Google Wifi referenced in the rest of this article.

Google Wifi: How/why to interconnect units via Ethernet

Apparently, most Google Wifi reviewers don’t interconnect up their Google Wifi units via Ethernet. I say that because it’s not emphasized by Google or by most reviewers. Some people (like me) would like to interconnect their additional access points via Ethernet for purity reasons, i.e. not to have a downstream unit have to depend an an already degenerated signal to be repeated. Others do so by pure necessity. Why by necessity? Because sometimes the home or building is so large that the distance between the initial device (which is being used both as a router and an access point) and the other access points is too great for the signal to reach them.

When my friend Memo Sauceda was considering the purchase of multiple Google Wifi devices for his home, the first thing I researched was whether it was possible to interconnect them via Ethernet, since Google doesn’t mention it in the product presentation. Fortunately, Memo’s house is already wired for Category 6 Ethernet. The other good news is that Google Wifi indeed supports it, although the information is difficult to find and somewhat incomplete. Ahead I am going to share both Google’s documentation and my own comments. That’s because Google wrote the documentation assuming that the WiFi signal would actually reach all of the additional units being used as an access point, and —at least in Memo’s house— they didn’t in all cases.

Google’s instructions, intertwined with my comments

In the following diagrams, “→” means to connect via wired Ethernet. First, Google says what not to do:

Do not connect any devices (via Ethernet) like a computer, switch, or another Wifi point to a Wifi point during setup.

Then Google says what you may do, after the initial setup is successfully completed, i.e. Supported Google Wifi setups:

Using Google Wifi points and/or OnHub devices

(✓) Modem → Primary Wifi point → Mesh Wifi point

1. Modem’s LAN port connects to Primary Wifi point’s WAN port via wired Ethernet

2. Primary Wifi point’s LAN port to any Mesh Wifi point port via wired Ethernet

You can chain multiple Mesh Wifi points via wired Ethernet.

(✓) Modem → Primary Wifi point → Mesh Wifi point → Mesh Wifi point → and so on…

Include a switch downstream of the Primary Wifi point

(✓) Modem → Primary Wifi point→ Switch → Mesh Wifi point

1. Modem’s LAN port connects to Primary Wifi point’s WAN port via wired ethernet

2. Primary Wifi point’s LAN port connects to switch’s WAN / uplink port via wired ethernet

3. Switch’s LAN port connects to any Mesh Wifi point’s WAN port via wired ethernet

Switches and Mesh Wifi points may be connected in any order (as long as they’re downstream of the Primary Wifi point) and you may connect several of these devices via wired ethernet.

(✓) Modem → Primary Wifi point → Switch → Mesh Wifi point

(✓) Modem → Primary Wifi point → Mesh Wifi point → Switch → Mesh Wifi point

All of those listed above are the ones I would have expected, and I was relieved to see that they are supported. Finally, Google includes a method that I wouldn’t recommend (and Google doesn’t either), but it’s there for non-ideal situations:

Include a 3rd party router upstream of the Primary Wifi point

(✓) Modem → 3rd party router → Primary Wifi point → Mesh Wifi point

1. Modem’s LAN port connects to 3rd party router’s WAN port via wired ethernet

2. 3rd party router’s LAN port connects to the Primary Wifi point’s WAN port via wired ethernet

3. Primary Wifi point’s LAN port connects to any Mesh Wifi point’s WAN port via wired ethernet (or via a switch as shown above)

Google gives the same warning (and suggests the same remedy) that I would have done regarding this one:

With this configuration, you may run into Double NAT, which isn’t necessarily a problem. But if it is causing problems, we recommend putting your 3rd party router in bridge mode and/or turning Wi-Fi off on your 3rd party router.

The workaround

As stated earlier, the additional access points must not be connected via Ethernet until after the initial setup is complete. So how do you handle that when the signal doesn’t reach the intended location? Here’s how:

  1. Temporarily place the additional Google Wifi devices to be used as access points close enough to be in range within the the house, office, studio or building (i.e. hotel or shopping center) in the relative direction of the final destination.
  2. During the setup process, name each Google Wifi device with the intended location.
  3. After setup has been successfully completed, connect any required Ethernet “switches” (more precisely called switching hubs), and move the temporarily located units to their respective intended locations, connect them via Ethernet, and apply power.

Conclusions

After understanding how to interconnect Google Wifi with units via Ethernet, Memo and I are quite pleased with the Google Wifi system and price point, considering that it is dual band 802.11ac and Gigabit Ethernet. It is easily managed (even from a remote location) via an Android or iOS app and allows connection of both wired and wireless devices.

Save US$20 on Google Fi, my favorite mobile telephony and data service

Click here to save US$20 on Google Fi, which now works on iPhone and Android. With Google Fi (covered previously in several articles), there is no extra charge for data-only SIM cards on the same account, for up to 10 devices. You only pay for the total data, and data is free after 6 GB per month. So you could be using one Google FI SIM card on your primary phone, another in a tablet or secondary phone (or third, of fourth…).

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FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting or TuRadioGlobal programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own.

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The articles contained in the TecnoTur channel in ProVideo Coalition magazine are copyright Allan Tépper/TecnoTur LLC, except where otherwise attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited without prior approval, except for short quotes which link back to this page, which are encouraged!


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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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Patrick Spedding
Guest

Great article, this is also what I wanted to do. It took a couple of tries to get the most remote Google Wifi device connected via Ethernet versus via Wifi, since my furthest Google Wifi device is marginally within WiFi range of the next nearest access point (weak signal), so when I connected the Ethernet cable I think it was getting confused. Now I notice in the Google Wifi App shows my devices as ‘Primary Wifi point’, ‘Wired Wi-Fi point’ and ‘Mesh Wifi point’ which is awesome and exactly what I was after. I’ve tried several other solutions over the… Read more »

Allan Tépper
Guest

Thanks Patrick. I am glad you liked it.

jvc
Guest
jvc

Is it possible to put the primary wifi device in my existing network? So that i can connect to my other hardwired devices from wifi devices.

Allan Tépper
Guest

Hi JVC,
I would love to respond, but your question is not clear to me.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

I think the question is (and I have the same one) essentially can you run Google Wifi without the primary Wifi AP acting as a router in a scenario where you have a mixed wireless/wired setup for devices. So using Google → symbol something like:

Modem→Router→Switch (both below are out of the same switch)
→Other wired Devices
→Google Wifi

With both the wired devices and devices connected by Google Wifi all being on one network.

Justin
Guest
Justin

Hopefully this is a simple question and probably is already answered above but im not the most technical. I currently have a modem connected to a basic router, which then has a 10 port switch (i think thats the term) where I have 8 hardwired devices connected. I get poor wifi in my house so i would like to keep whats hardwired, hardwired but mesh out my wireless signal over my whole house and front and back porches. Would this connection sequence work. Modem→Primary Google Wifi mesh hub→my trendnet switch to my hardwired devices, then separately plugged into say an… Read more »

Greg
Guest
Greg

That’s how I read it. As long as your first step is Modem -> Primary Google Wifi device…. then you can wire in your switch beyond that. The only improvement to what you said is that if you are putting a mesh Google wifi point in a room that has a wire, try wiring it to see if that works better (depends on your switch speed vs how good the wifi signal is at that point). Most homes and small offices come with an integrated modem/router/switch/wifi hub. For those people (like me) it’s a shame we have to configure the… Read more »

Dallas
Guest
Dallas

Justin, I’m sure you’ve already worked any kinks out by now. I setup my boss’s GWifi mesh network with basically the same hardware you are using. I just made sure I setup the “pucks” first and configured each of them before I added my switch at the end. The most time consuming part was making and running the cat5e cables. I wasn’t sure how strong the wifi signal was going to be so I ran a cable from the office to the family room and put the “primary router” on top of the entertainment center. Next I “configured” the first… Read more »

David
Member

Hi Allan, Thank you for this excellent article!
Question A: is the “Primary Wifi point” one of my Google Wifi devices, or some third party device (if the latter, please give an example of a brand/product)?
Question B: May I leave the wifi functionality that is by default available within the router than comes from my cable provider on, with the same SSID as the Google Wifi units (why would I do this? to get one more strong wifi point for people in the same room as the router)?

jose neto
Guest
jose neto

I would like t know how is the client roaming on the google system. i was unable to find any documentation on how this is achieved I’m used to wireless lan controllers on enterprise environment, so here at home I tried to find a home WLAN controller … however apparently controllers are only available for business level APs and devices, which include high license costs. so I tried to do it my self, I had several Ap wired thru ethernet broadcasting the same SSID on different channels. it works and speeds are good, but I’m not happy with the roaming,… Read more »

Dallas
Guest
Dallas

Allan, Thanks for the article; very helpful. I am in a tough situation, I helped a friend setup a home network with Google’s Wifi routers. His setup was all brand new and no problem to setup. He actually ended up not needing a third router so he gave it to me. Here is my setup: ISP is comcast w/ only one coax cable outlet which is upstairs -> Netgear Modem –> Netgear AC1200 Router (4 LAN Ports), Dual-Band Wifi –> port 1 -> Desktop, port 2 –> Google Wifi “Primary Router”–> Desktop. I have a Google Chromecast, 2 laptops, a… Read more »

Allan Tépper
Guest

Hi Dallas. Thanks for reading and commenting. The best thing (with Comcast) is to buy your own modem (Comcast publishes certified modems which you can buy from any source) and use only the Google Wifi units and/or Onhub units (you can mix and match with no problem), getting rid of the Netgear and saving money with the Comcast rental. The all-in-one modem/router that Comcast loves to rent are old technology. Any thing else is a compromise, and you won’t take advantage of the unique features in these devices.

Allan Tépper

Paul
Guest
Paul

Hello, Apologies if my question has been addressed earlier (I’m having trouble w/ some the terminology being used). Building a home in a rural area. ISP provider says they install a small dish on the eave, pointing at one of their towers. On the other end of the small dish is an ethernet cable (broadband to distribute to the home). Doing prewiring for home including a fair amount of CAT6 cabling. I have a 3 puck Google WiFi. I want to hardwire the pucks. I’ll obtain a 24 or 48 port unmanaged ethernet switch for the various CAT6 hardwired devices.… Read more »

Tony B
Guest
Tony B

I have a few questions since I’m use to the standard modem -> Firewall/router – > switch: 1. Does the 2nd and 3rd Google wireless have to be daisy-chained (or connected to a switch) or can it be just plugged in without a hardwire (not sure if it backhauls wirelessly). 2. What if you have your network is a bit more complex? For example, I use a Cisco ASA (firewalling, some port forwarding and some vpn tunnels) and a switch. I would not want the primary Google wireless doing all the security. Why couldn’t I just plug these suckers into… Read more »

Ed
Member

Thanks Allan, very helpful article. I’ve connected multiple devices through a switch based on google approved layout. I was not aware of a limitation for that WiFi network. Initially we connected 12 units and half of them did not work. Later I found out that there may be a limitation of 6 units. When I reduced the number of AP the WiFi network started to work. However, regardless that all units are wired to the main central switch, some AP devices report themselves as “wired” while others appears as “mesh”. I understand intuitively what “mesh” vs “wired” means, but could… Read more »

Christopher J Smith
Guest
Christopher J Smith

Question – Pricing being the same, is it better to create a mesh network with multiple OnHubs or Wifis? Ability to backhaul being important. Do they both have dedicated channels for backhaul?

Josh Matcuk
Guest
Josh Matcuk

Hi @Allan, I was not aware that the Google Wifi supported wired backhauls since it was never advertised and some discussions online early after it’s release identified that it was not possible. I thank you for clearly outlining specific examples that work and i was able to ascertain that it would work for my configuration. My question for you, is when the pucks are connected together using a wire, are they actually running in a Mesh network mode where each access point is utilizing the same channel? Or are they actually configuring themselves using different wireless channels meaning that they… Read more »

Allan Tépper
Guest

Hi Josh,
Thanks for reading and commenting. I am not positive whether they are using mesh in this mode. However, even if they are not using mesh mode (and instead are just configuring themselves with different channels with the same SSID and password, as I used to to manually before starting to use the Google system), I still prefer it.
Allan Tépper

Josh Matcuk
Guest
Josh Matcuk

Just wanted to follow up, I did get some units and performed tests. WIth or without an Ethernet connection for the back haul each puck was possibly using a different channel. To say more thoroughly I noticed that the pucks furthest from each other were using the same channel but the puck between them was using a different channel. This was true when connected in “Mesh” using only wi-fi as well as interconnected via Ethernet connections.

Bernardo
Guest
Bernardo

Hi, Allan. I’ve just read your article on Google Wifi and learned I can chain connect multiple Wifi points via ethernet. Can I connect all three Google devices to the same modem via ethernet instead? Would it work well? Thank you so much

Allan Tépper
Guest

Hi Bernardo,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Only one Google Wifi or Google OnHub should be connected directly to the modem. That first one acts as a router and performs NAT conversion.
Allan Tépper.

Bernardo
Guest
Bernardo

Thank you for your quick reply, Allan! I’m remodeling the house, I will have the modem on the 1st floor, and I need/want a good signal on the rooftop and on the ground floor too (living room and backyard). Do you know if I can split the ethernet connexion from the primary wifi point to connect the other two? As the modem and the primary wifi point will be on the 1st floor, it would be easier that way because to chain all three wifi points I would have to cable down 1 floor and after cable up two floors… Read more »

Allan Tépper
Guest

Bernardo,
Absolutely you can connect a “switch” (switched hub) to the LAN output of the first or any of the units. No problem with that, as long as the later units are part of the Google Wifi/Google OnHub family, or are actual devices, i.e. computers, Ethernet printers, Roku boxes, etc.

Allan Tépper

Bernardo
Guest
Bernardo

Great, Allan! Thank you for your help! Do you recommend any specific switch model or brand?

Allan Tépper
Guest

Not any specific brand or model, but I recommend it be Gigabit Ethernet (aka 1000-BaseT), switching and with sufficient outputs for your current and upcoming needs.

Allan Tépper

Bernardo
Guest
Bernardo

Thank you for sharing your knowledge!!!!

Kirk Fletcher
Guest
Kirk Fletcher

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

I get that Google wants people just meshing with wifi to keep it simple, but these details were very hard to find and actually delaying my purchase. I believe I’ll now go ahead, knowing I can wire the suckers and do it “properly”.

Ray Coss
Guest
Ray Coss

Great article Allan, thank you. Just one question, when you wire the secondary WiFi points, are they connected to the input or output ethernet port?

Allan Tépper
Guest

Hi Ray,
Thanks for reading and commenting.
All routers have WAN port(s) (sometimes called INTERNET ports) and LAN port(s). Both of those are bidirectional, so really both are both inputs and outputs. The secondary Google Wifi or Google OnHub unite need to be connected downstream to the LAN port, either directly or via a switched hub, often abbreviated as “switch”. I recommend Gigabit Ethernet, aka 1000Base-T.
Allan Tépper

Dave Perkins
Guest
Dave Perkins

Excellent article! I just setup my system last night and have the units wired together using Netgear Powerline 1200 adapters. Both the 2nd and 3rd units show connected via wired, but the Google WIFi app shows the connections as “weak”. Is this because they are using the wired connections as opposed to the mesh connection? Unfortunately, my home was built in 2001 without cat5 in the walls, so this is the only way to wire the units together.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Allan, Thank you for this article. So hard to find articles that are close to what I need to do. We own a 12 bedroom motel with room 1 being closest to the office and room 12 being the furthest. Almost a straight line of rooms. The office and motel are two separate buildings but are right next to each other, maybe 30 ft apart. We currently have a Comtrend WAP-EN1750R right outside the office hardwired into the modem projecting a network for the whole motel. It is powerful but we are not getting full signal in all the rooms.… Read more »

Allan Tépper
Guest

Hi Mike,
Thanks for reading and commenting. This article is about how to wire them up via Ethernet precisely to help with this situation. If you do it as explained in this article, with good Category 6 Ethernet cables, the strength and quality should be the same with all access points. As explained before, you cannot combine other brands of WiFi access points. All access points must all be Google-branded, although switches can be any brand Gigabit Ethernet. if you need more help, considering contacting me for consulting via http://contact.AllanTepper.com

Chris
Guest
Chris

Hi. I just read the article and it kind of sounds like what I’m looking at doing, but I’m not 100% sure and wanted to get an idea before I make any GWiFi purchases. What I’m wondering is if a switch (say an 8-port Netgear switch) can be connected to a puck and then devices connected to the switch would be able to get online WITHOUT the pucks being wired together? I’d have modem connected to primary puck in my office (main floor), a secondary puck in the basement game room, and a third puck upstairs in the bedroom. Downstairs… Read more »

Benny
Guest
Benny

Hi Allan. This is a great article. it will help in my planning to set up WiFi in my new new home. I have one question, though. Can I connect to my company network via VPN? Someone I know said that VPN is not supported by the unit. Thank you and best wishes.

AOL customer support
Guest

Hi, allan this is the awesome post I am also using ethernet that’s why I am very interested when I started to read your article.
keep posting this type of valuable article.There is all instruction that is given by you is awesome and it works.

victor
Guest
victor

I currently have the house’s every rooms wired and connected to a switch where the provider’s free router wifi is located. can the 3 google wifi units connect to the switch and work as a mesh w/ the provider’s router wifi?

provider’s router/wifi → switch → → → 3 google wifi all connects to the switch’s ports (non linear).

Matthew Ingram
Guest
Matthew Ingram

Great article! The most lucid I’ve found. One question: Do I connect the wired ethernet to the WAN or LAN port on my secondary Google WiFi?

Also – it seems like a bug – why when it is connected to either does the Google App only show that the MESH network is weak? Reading between the lines it seems that it does not recognise the “backhaul” (technical term) that is coming over the ethernet.

Kent
Guest
Kent

Can I mix and match wired and non-wired Google Wifi units? For example Modem → Primary Google Wifi unit’s WAN port → Primary Wifi unit’s LAN port to 8-port switch → 8-port switch to second Google Wifi unit –> wireless connection to third Google Wifi unit

Adam Joseph
Guest

Connected to my main Google Wifi unit (as per Google’s … would definititively tell you if the access point is using ethernet or not for backhaul).

Rory
Guest
Rory

Thank you so much for this. I tried to do something similar with the ASUS Lyra and even raised a support ticket to ask them how to do it as their product only supports direct connection between devices which means that you cannot introduce a switch into the mix. It is a totally useless solution as is their support. They responded once to the support ticket and had not even bothered to read it properly. Asking the same questions that were in the original ticket. I then creating drawings of what I was trying to do and they have never… Read more »

Leonardo D Mora
Guest
Leonardo D Mora

Hi All !
After reading the prime article about mesh type access point routers, I had a clearer picture of how to install google mesh type routers .
I was expecting to see a ” One Line Diagram ” or ” Single line Diagram ” for the Network being explained including the DC Power of each Google Wifi Mesh type Access Point .

Mark
Guest
Mark

Looks like a year since anyone has replied to any comments, but hoping someone can help me. I have a remote room from the rest of my home that I can’t get wifi thru the traditional mesh network created by GWifi. So, I’ve hard wired some of the remote spot of my house with ethernet wiring from where my modem and primary point are. I’m trying to create the modem –> primary wifi point –> switch –> mesh point configuration, but haven’t gotten it to work. I can’t set-up/add new wifi points in the remote room, because it’s too far… Read more »

Jim
Guest
Jim

try ethernet, THEN power when you get back to the remote site?

Vivek Vibhuti
Guest

Hi, Can you please tell me one thing? does this google wifi device required ethernet cable to connect to existing router or it connects through wifi.

JP
Guest
JP

Hello Vivek, the first Google puck will be your router. Ie the first Google Puck (called the primary in conversations above) will replace your current router. You will need to connect that to your Modem that connects to your ISP. The rest of the pucks can then connect via wireless signals to the primary (first Puck). So your path should be (all wired) ISP->Modem-> First (primary Google puck) then (wireless) Secondary Google pucks. Or if wired then switch and Secondary Googles pucks. Word to head. If you are connecting the secondary pucks via wire to use the backhaul feature, Connect… Read more »

Ivy Moon
Guest
Ivy Moon

The WI-FI points are a P.O.S. worked good for about 5 weeks and then they all went out a d after 3 hours on the phone with Google service tech they still would not work! HUGE WASTE OF MONEY!!!!! AS WELL AS A HUGE WASTE OF A CHRISTMAS PRESENT!!! I NOW HAVE 3 WHITE PUCKS THAT SERVE ZERO PURPOSE!!!!

Philip Hall
Guest

Dual band routers are best for this job, however LTE routers will also do good, but a dual band router which can simultaneously handle 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands are suitable for this job.