Orbi Satellites & Compatibility: 15 Things You MUST Know!

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Orbi Satellites are a little confusing. You most probably won’t know what can be used to connect to what and the various compatibilities with Netgear routers or other Orbi routers.

I found that there wasn’t much information about this online, so I conducted my own research and came up with some clear answers on this topic.

In this article, I will be covering the basics of Orbi Satellite and some common questions asked about its compatibility with other devices.

Read on for more!

Short Introduction to Orbi Satellites

Orbi Satellites are devices that work in a WiFi mesh system with an Orbi Router to provide extended range and increased internet speeds to your home!

If you are unclear on what Orbi Satellites do, here’s a quick breakdown:

Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi systems are usually sold in a pair or more consisting of at least:

  • 1 Orbi Router
  • >1 Orbi Satellite(s)

And in the above picture, the one on the left is an Orbi Router and the ones on the right are Orbi Satellites. They work together to provide a mesh wifi system.

What is the Difference Between Orbi Router and Satellite?

Have a look at the above picture, it’s easy to tell them apart from behind!

The Orbi Router (left-most device) has a yellow-labeled port with the word “Internet” on it.

Orbi Satellites on the right do not have this and will not be able to connect to a modem for the internet.

Here are the differences in function:

Orbi Router:

  • Connects to a modem to receive internet from an ISP
  • Connects to Orbi Satellites to extend mesh wifi range
  • Able to connect to devices using a wired ethernet cable

Orbi Satellite:

  • Cannot connect to modem directly
  • Connects to an Orbi Router to extend mesh wifi range
  • Able to connect to devices using a wired ethernet cable

Do note that older models of Orbi products may not offer Mesh WiFi 6 systems and do not support mesh wifi. Only the newer models do!

However, they still work in the same way as illustrated in the table above.

If you are looking for more information on how Orbi Routers work, check out this post where I cover it in FULL detail:

1. Can You Use an Orbi Satellite by Itself?

An Orbi Satellite cannot be used by itself. Orbi Satellites can only connect to an Orbi Router or other Orbi Satellites in a mesh wifi system. Orbi Satellites requires a direct connection to an Orbi Router that is connected to a modem with cable service from an Internet Service Provider.

Orbi Satellites won’t be able to be used by themselves at all.

They are inherently made for the sole purpose of working with an Orbi Router to create a mesh WiFi network in a home.

They provide the benefit of a more stable, longer range, and stronger wireless internet connection at home!

Even if your Orbi does not support mesh WiFi, you’ll still need an Orbi Router to work with your Orbi Satellite.

2. Can You Use Orbi Satellites With Other Routers?

Orbi Satellites cannot be used with other routers. Orbi Satellites can only be used with Orbi Routers, even if they are of a different model. Other routers will not be compatible with Orbi Satellites, even if they are from Netgear, like the Nighthawk Router.

Orbi Satellites are kinda special in that they can only work with Orbi products. However, they will be able to work with Orbi products of different models.

This means that your current Orbi mesh wifi system will be compatible with future Orbi products and vice versa!

If you would like to use an older model of an Orbi Satellite to extend the range of your new Orbi Router/Orbi Satellite combo, you can definitely do that!

3. Can I Add an Orbi Satellite to My Nighthawk Router?

Orbi Satellites cannot be added to Nighthawk Routers. Nighthawk Routers do not work on the mesh WiFi technology that Orbi Satellites work on, so they are not compatible for usage together. However, a WiFi Range Extender can be added to a Nighthawk Router instead.

Orbi Satellites can only be used to extend the range of Orbi wifi mesh systems but not for Nighthawk Routers.

If you currently already have a Nighthawk Router and are looking to extend your range with Orbi Satellites, you can’t, unfortunately. This applies despite Nighthawk being from Netgear too.

They simply work on different technologies and aren’t compatible.

Instead, you’ll want to look for WiFi Range Extenders like these:

Nighthawk Wifi ExtendersLinks
AX6000 WiFi Mesh Extender (EAX80) Nighthawk®Check price on Amazon
AX1800 WiFi Mesh Extender (EAX20)Check price on Amazon
AC2200 WiFi Mesh Extender (EX7700) Nighthawk®Check price on Amazon

You’ll notice from the links that they are still built with mesh technology and are backward compatible with your older Nighthawk router to set up a mesh wifi system in your home.

This will set up a mesh wifi system in your home, with a singular SSID (one WiFi name and password)!

So although you may not enjoy the compatibility of Orbi’s mesh wifi, you’ll still be able to establish mesh wifi in your home with the Nighthawk series from NETGEAR.

4. How Do I Connect My Orbi Satellite to Another Router?

To connect Orbi Satellites to another router, press the Sync button at the back of the Orbi Satellite and press the Sync button at the back of the Orbi Router within 2 minutes. Wait up to 6 minutes to sync. Both devices should light up as blue for success, amber for a weak connection, and magenta when it fails.

Here’s some advice from Netgear on how to deal with the colors that show up when trying to sync your Orbi Satellite:

Blue. Your Orbi router and satellite successfully synced, and the connection between the router and satellite is good.

Amber. Your Orbi router and satellite successfully synced, and the connection between the router and satellite is fair. Consider moving the satellite closer to the router.

Magenta. Your Orbi router and satellite failed to sync. Move the satellite closer to the router and try again.

5. Can You Use Orbi As WiFi Extender?

Orbi cannot be used as WiFi extenders. Orbis work on a special wifi mesh system that can only work within the Orbi product series, and not WiFi extenders. However, Orbi Satellites can be used to extend the range of WiFi connections from an Orbi Router. Orbi Satellite will not work with normal WiFi routers, and those require WiFi extenders.

Orbi is really special in that it works within its own product series only. (Orbi only!)

Orbi products such as the Orbi Router and Orbi Satellite work exclusively with each other and within their series.

This means that an Orbi Router or Orbi Satellite will always be backward compatible to establish a wifi mesh system.

Orbi products also work exclusively within the Orbi app (iOS/Android), so if you tried to use a Nighthawk app, you won’t be able to access your Orbis (Router/Satellites)!

6. Can I Use an Orbi Router as a Satellite?

Orbi Routers cannot be used as an Orbi Satellite. Orbi Routers are created to receive internet cable service from a modem from an Internet Service Provider, not to work as an access point as an Orbi Satellite does. Likewise, Orbi Satellites cannot be used as Orbi Routers.

Learn more about how Orbi Satellites work in an article I wrote here.

7. Can I Use RBR50 As a Satellite?

RBR50 cannot be used as a satellite because it is an Orbi Router. Running two RBR50 Orbi Routers on the same network may cause connection errors. Instead, an RBS50 (Orbi Satellite) can be used in conjunction with an RBR50 to expand the Orbi WiFi system in a home. RBR50 Orbi Satellites are sold separately.

For your convenience, you can check out the current price of an RBS50 Orbi Satellite on Amazon through this link.

Read more from the RBR50 datasheet here.

8. How Far Away Can Orbi Satellites Be From a Router?

Orbi Satellites can be as far away as about 40 to 60 ft from an Orbi Router. Additionally, each Orbi device covers about 2000 sq feet but may vary with more walls. During setup, an amber light indicates a weak connection and needs to be shifted nearer, and magenta indicates sync failure, possibly due to a far distance.

Also, according to The Friendly Reviewer, he was still able to get fast internet speeds even at the limit of this 40 to 60 ft range.

Here’s his video:

The below advice is from the Orbi help forums:

Blue. Your Orbi router and satellite successfully synced, and the connection between the router and satellite is good.

Amber. Your Orbi router and satellite successfully synced, and the connection between the router and satellite is fair. Consider moving the satellite closer to the router.

Magenta. Your Orbi router and satellite failed to sync. Move the satellite closer to the router and try again.

If you need more information on the best placements for your Orbi Satellite, check out this post:

9. Can I Add a Third Orbi Satellite?

A third Orbi Satellite can be added to an Orbi Router and Orbi Satellite WiFi mesh setup.

10. How Many Satellites Can You Add to Orbi?

You may then ask this next question!

Here’s the answer I derived from Netgear’s community forums:

For WiFi 5 systems, a maximum of 6 satellites can be added to Orbi. For WiFi 6 systems, a maximum of 4 satellites can be added to Orbi. However, if the satellites are in a daisy chain, a maximum of 2 satellites and 4 satellites are supported for WiFi 5 and 6 respectively. Orbi Pro systems can support 6 satellites.

11. Can You Mix Orbi Satellites?

Orbi Satellites can be mixed. Orbi Satellites are compatible across all Orbi devices to support a wireless mesh WiFi system in a home. However, Nighthawk series devices and Orbi devices cannot be mixed.

12. Does Orbi Automatically Daisy Chain?

Orbi devices automatically form a daisy chain with other Orbi devices. However, this only works with the firmware release MR2.0 on NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home WiFi Systems only. This feature allows Orbi Satellites to dynamically pick the best path based on its location and WiFi channel conditions.

If you aren’t sure what a daisy chain is, NETGEAR describes it as this:

Daisy chain is a term in networking to describe a type of mesh topology, or how your Orbi router talks to its Orbi satellite(s). 

NETGEAR

Personally interpret this as Orbi Satellites connecting to other Orbi Satellites instead of to the Orbi Router directly, because it is located a little too far to connect to the Orbi Router.

This is especially useful in homes with a long hallway!

Here’s what daisy-chaining looks like:

An Orbi WiFi System with a router and two satellites using a daisy chain network layout. The network is connected in a straight line with the Orbi router connected to the first satellite and the second satellite connected to the first satellite.
Orbi Router connected to 2 Orbi Satellites in a daisy chain
An Orbi WiFi System with a router and two satellites using a star network layout. Both of the satellites are connected directly to the router.
2 Orbi Satellites connected directly to an Orbi Router in a star network.

However, in the above illustration by NETGEAR, the new firmware feature in Orbi Whole Home WiFi Systems can also dynamically shift to a star network.

This makes more sense for Orbi Satellites to connect directly to an Orbi Router than to an Orbi Satellite.

13. Do Mesh Satellites Talk to Each Other?

Mesh Satellites do talk together if they are in a daisy chain that Orbi Satellites provide. In a new firmware update, Orbi Satellites are able to connect to other Orbi Satellites to form a daisy chain to achieve a longer range in a longitudinal house with a long hallway.

As far as I know, eero mesh systems, TP-Link Deco systems, and Orbi mesh systems all are able to daisy chain!

Read more on TP-Link Decos in an article I wrote here:

14. How Do I Check My Orbi Satellite Signal Strength?

Network Map

To check Orbi Satellite signal strength, follow the following steps:

  1. Connect to the Orbi WiFi network and stand near your Orbi Satellite.
  2. Launch the Orbi app and enter your username and password to sign in.
  3. Navigate to the Network Map page and tap on the Orbi Satellite you are standing near to.
  4. Your device connected to the Orbi Satellite should show under its list. This proves that your device is connected to the Orbi Satellite.
  5. Navigate back to the Main Page.
  6. Tap Speed Test, then START TEST
  7. The speed test will display the upload and download speeds.

15. Do Orbi Satellites Work in AP Mode?

Orbi Satellites always work in AP mode. Orbi Satellites are made to already work as access points (APs). Technically, only Orbi Routers are the devices that are toggled between router or AP mode.

Orbi Satellites are practically already made to be access points and cannot be toggled between a router and AP mode.

So Orbi Routers are the ones you should be focusing on here!

Final Thoughts

Now you know all there is to about Orbi Satellites and their compatibility with other devices, with each other, and with Orbi Routers.

I hope this helps to clear up a lot of the doubt in your mind about what can or cannot be done!

That’s all, and thanks for reading!

Stay smart and keep hacking up your homes!

Justin Chia

Justin is the founder and author of Justjooz. He is a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumni and a former data analyst.

Now, Justin runs the Justjooz blog full-time, hoping to share his deep knowledge of business, tech, web3, and analytics with others.

To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.

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