In-depth Guide: Netgear Orbi Setup with an Existing Router

If you have enjoyed the Netgear’s Orbi Voice but don’t want to opt for their Wi-Fi mesh system because of its operating cost, then here’s good news for you! Specific models of Orbi Satellites can now operate with all other routers, which means your existing router.

September 2019 saw these changes, and now you are able to find various new versions of some Orbi satellites that you can use with your current router. The exact models of Orbi satellites include Orbi Outdoor RBS50Y and Orbi Voice RBS40V. Previously these two only worked with a router from Orbi just like all Orbi satellites.

This initiative was expected for a long time based on the specs of both these units. Orbi Voice is a Wi-Fi broadcaster that can function as a smart speaker and also features an inbuilt Amazon Alexa. On the other hand, Orbi Outdoor is a Wi-Fi extender made to take care of all the external elements.

You can also read about whole-home Wi-fi system reviews where we also covered the Netgear Orbi router: The Best Whole Home Wi-Fi System in 2020

Today I’ll guide you on how to setup Netgear Orbi with an existing router but first…

What is a Netgear Orbi?

For those of you who don’t know much details about the Netgear Orbi, it is a Wi-Fi mesh system built to deliver quality Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home. It is very easy to set up even if you want to connect your existing router with it.

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It has a dedicated channel to channel data traffic from router to extension by squeezing the max throughput and meet the household’s internet demands. Once you connect your Orbi device to your ISP modem, your entire home will have Wi-Fi access, and you can easily move around without any signal or reception interruptions.

Setting up Netgear Orbi with the existing router

There is no complication associated with the entire process here. You can conveniently connect Netgear Orbi with your existing router.

  • Just connect the Orbi router with your current router or modem that your internet service provider has supplied you.
  • The next step is to synchronize the units with all the satellites with your Orbi router. It will create a Wi-Fi mesh, and your home will be under its umbrella. The best part is that you don’t need to create another SSID. Under the same SSID, you will seamlessly connect all your devices throughout your house.
  • All Orbi models come with three bands: one is 2.4GHz, and the other two are 5GHz. One of the latter two will be used for the creation of wireless backhaul. And this backhaul will be your dedicated Wi-Fi link that will connect with the satellites through the router unit. It’s that simple!
  • Orbi routers can easily work with any internet service providers. If you have the modem from your internet service providers, just connect it with your Orbi router, and that’s it. However, keep in mind that if you have a Wi-Fi router and modem combo from your internet service providers, then you need to turn the Wi-Fi off of your router/mode combo and then connect your Orbi device with it.

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Number of satellites that you can connect

All Orbi kits have one or two satellites, but you can easily connect more than that. Users have reported connecting 5 satellites at a time, and they operate fine. Another option that you have is to go for a combination of wireless and wired backhaul connections between the router nodes and satellites.

You need to bear in mind that you have all your satellites on wireless backhaul connections; this will impact the overall Wi-Fi bandwidth, and the speed will get reduced. But if some connections are wired backhauls, then this won’t happen.

Router mode vs. Access Point mode

Your Netgear Orbi has the ability to support different modes for operation. You can either choose for access point mode or can go for router mode. The most commonly used is the router mode, and it is the default operation mode as well.

This will be in use if you already have a modem (standalone) provided by your internet service providers. You just need to connect your ISP’s modem with Orbi router for assigning IP addresses of all the clients on the home network and route their traffic to the modem and the towards the ISP.

On the other hand, access point mode will be in use when you have access to a router gateway, such as your Wi-Fi modem/router combo. This router gateway needs to be connected to the ISP, and you need to connect your Orbi router behind your current router.

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The right Orbi model

As there are different models available on the market hence choosing the right one can become a bit difficult. There are various factors involved in choosing the right Wi-Fi system for your home. You need to consider the size of your home as well as the materials used in the walls.

How the Wi-Fi will be used in your home is also an integral point to keep in mind: whether you will just browse through the internet or want to use the Wi-Fi for internal communication. You need to make your decisions after you have answered all these questions. But for a general understanding;

  • If you have a 150Mbps internet or more and you will be transferring a lot of files, or there is heavy local traffic in your home, then go for the Orbi AC3000.
  • When the internet speed is less than 150Mbps, and you don’t have much local traffic, choose AC2200.


What will happen when I add Orbi Voice and Orbi Outdoor to my Wi-Fi network?

Both Orbi Voice and Orbi Outdoor feature a backhaul band for the purpose of delivering exceptional Wi-Fi coverage. If you add any one of them to your network or router will turn your Wi-Fi coverage into a kind of a mesh, which is far better than using any extender.

According to Netgear, the models of both these devices have “work with any router,” written on the box. And surely they will work as a part of your Orbi system too.

If you are thinking about the satellite versions before September 2019, then again, the answer is yes, they will work just fine.

However, you need to update those satellite versions to get the latest firmware. This is something that is only possible when they become a part of the Orbi mesh system.

What is Orbi’s fast roaming?

As you have more than one satellite router with your Orbi system and you also have the central unit. Your tablets and phones will connect to the closest device. And as you start walking across your home, your device will disconnect with the current one and connect with the next one.

The latest system updates will feature fast roaming, and it is a technique for improving the overall efficiency of how a device switches from one access point to the other.  You can also enable/disable this feature. If you experience frequent shifting from one point to another, then you can disable this feature.

Is Orbi good enough for gaming?

Internet gaming will surely require high-quality internet speed. This is especially the case when you are playing first-person shooters as well as multiplayer games online. Orbi’s speed will entirely rely on the internet from your service providers as well as the connected modem.

The latest of the models of the Orbi system can conveniently transmit 1733 Mbps from the satellite to your router. Most such games recommend at least 5 to 6 Mbps for an optimal experience. So, according to these numbers, the Orbi device should be able to handle gaming pretty well only of course if you have fast internet.

Is it compatible with Verizon Fios and other similar services?

Yes, it is fully compatible with Verizon Fios, as well as other similar services. Fios is a service bundle, including internet, phone as well as television across the fiber optics network. You have one option to set your Orbi as an access point and switch the system to AP mode.

The router will assign an IP address to your Orbi. You need to switch the Wi-Fi off on the Fios router, or Orbi will takeover, and IP addresses will be assigned to the local wireless clients in the home.

Final Words

Netgear Orbi will conveniently extend the Wi-Fi coverage in your home. And the best part is that you don’t have to do much when it comes to installation. Just connect the Orbi devices behind your ISP provided router, and if the router is a modem/router Wi-Fi combo, then make sure that you turn its Wi-Fi off.

There is not much that you have to do for the installation process. However, you need to choose the right Orbi model to make sure that your local internet demand is met adequately. You need to consider the size of your house, the way you are going to use the internet, and the internet speed from your provider.

It will allow you to make the right decision, and you won’t have to deal with any regrets later on. Once you connect your Orbi device, your entire home will have access to Wi-Fi with good coverage.

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