Are WiFi Routers Plug And Play? [HOW TO SET UP]

Can you just plug in a wireless router and start using it to access the internet? You might be asking yourself the same question if you just bought a Wi-Fi router or are looking to get one.

With the exception of portable/travel Wi-Fi routers, Wi-Fi routers are not plug-and-play. They need to be connected to a modem via ethernet and then configured using an app on your phone or browser on your computer before you can access the internet. Usually, the modem is provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

How To Set Up A Wi-Fi Router

While routers are not plug-and-play, they are quite easy to set up if you know how. Don’t let the various cables and ports plus the sometimes technical instruction manuals they come with intimidate you.

To set up your Wi-Fi router, you need to take the following steps:

1. Connect Your Router To Your Modem

Before the router can be powered on, it needs to be connected to your modem via an ethernet cable. You should be able to see several LAN (Local Area Network) ports and one Internet/WAN (Wide Area Network) either on the back or side of your router.

One end of your ethernet cable should be plugged into your modem while the other should be plugged into the router’s WAN/Internet port. This port can easily be distinguished from the other ports because it normally is of a different color. Now plug in your router to a power outlet via the power adapter provided and power it on.

2. Configure Your Router

The next step is to configure your router. Depending on the type of router, this can usually be done through an app on your phone or manually via Wi-Fi or ethernet on your computer.

Using a phone app is the most straightforward process of configuring your network since you are automatically guided through the setup process. For instance, Netgear has its own app called nighthawk that guides you through the process.

If your router doesn’t come with a compatible app then you’ll need to link your computer via Wi-Fi or ethernet to access your router’s configuration page. The page is usually hosted on your router and you’ll therefore need a browser to view it.

For most routers, typing or into the address bar and then hitting enter should give you direct access to this page.

3. Create A New Username And Password

Once on the configuration page, you need to log in using the default username and password to continue with the setup wizard. The default username and password will usually come printed on the router itself or the user manual.

After logging in using the default username and password it is important to create your own username and password to keep your network secure. The default ones are usually easy for someone else to guess and hack into your network. The following video explains how you can create a strong password that’s hard to crack:

4. Finish Setting Up Your Router Using The Setup Wizard

With a new username and password, you are ready to go ahead with the configuration process. This means updating your router’s firmware, setting up parental controls, setting up Wi-Fi passwords, etc.

You should be able to connect new devices to the internet once you have completed all the steps on the configuration page.

Point to note: Setting up portable Wi-Fi routers is a little different and easier than setting up standard routers.

Portable routers don’t need to be connected to a modem and neither is there a need for a configuration page. All you need is to set up a secure Wi-Fi password and ensure you have an active sim card subscription and you’re good to go.

The Need For An Ethernet Cable In Wireless Routers


Unless your wireless router has a built-in modem, you’ll need an ethernet cable to connect your router to a separate modem. However, when connecting other wireless devices, such as smartphones and laptops, to your router you don’t need ethernet cables.

How Wi-Fi Routers Are Powered

Wi-Fi routers, like all other electronic devices, need electricity to work. You will need to keep your router plugged into the wall whenever it is in use. If you are using a portable/travel router, you need to keep the batteries charged in order to stay connected to the internet.

Wireless Routers And Electricity Usage

When it comes to power consumption your router should be the least of your worries. Home appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers are the ones you should be more concerned about.

Wireless routers do not use a lot of electricity. On average, a router will consume 6 watts while a more demanding one will consume about 20 watts. Power consumption by a router ranges between 2 watts and 20 watts and mainly depends on the number of connecting devices as well as the amount of data transferred.

For example, a router that’s rated 6 watts will consume approximately 4.5 KWh per month:

6 Watts * 24 Hours * 30 Days= 4.32 Kwh

What happens to Wi-Fi When The Power Goes Out

When the power goes out your Wi-Fi will also go out unless you are accessing the internet through a device with a built-in battery, such as a pocket router or smartphone. During a blackout, networking devices such as routers, modems, and switches no longer receive the power they need to operate, thus Wi-Fi will be down.

Where To Plug In Your Wireless Router

Your wireless router should be connected to your modem via an ethernet cable. To do this, plug in one end of your ethernet cable to your modem’s ethernet port and the other to your router’s WAN/Internet port (usually located on the back). 

Next, plug in the power adapter that comes with your router. One end should go to your power outlet and the other to your router’s DC port. That’s it!


Most Wi-Fi routers are not simply plug-and-play. You need to take some additional steps in order to connect to the internet. Fortunately, these extra steps are easy to follow and you don’t need to be tech-savvy to get your router working.

Eustace G.
Eustace G.
Eustace is a technology enthusiast and avid gamer who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts, solve problems, and make informed decisions.


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