Electronic brake controllers are an essential safety device. Whether you are towing a horsebox, a camper or another type of trailer, being able to stop safely is vital.
If the brakes on your trailer are electronic, you will have to fit an electronic brake controller. It is the only way to make sure that when you apply the brakes on your tow vehicle, your trailer brakes are also engaged. This is necessary to ensure that the weight of the trailer does not continue to push you forward and that you stop safely.
Types of electronic brake controllers
There are two main types of electronic brake controllers available. Both work well, so which you choose is up to you.
- Timed or time delay brake controller systems
Timed control systems apply your trailer brakes at a preset intensity, and at a rate that builds gradually. You set the delay (sync) and braking intensity (output).
With timed brake controllers, there is a slight delay between when you hit the brakes and when the brakes on your trailer are fully engaged. With this type of controller, the tow vehicle carries the majority of the load when braking.
This type of brake controller is not suitable for those who tow frequently. It is also not a good idea to pull heavy or expensive loads, using a timed system. If you are likely to have to tackle steep hills or valleys timed braking controllers are also not ideal.
- Proportional brake controllers
Proportional trailer brake controllers are fitted with inertia sensors. These detect how hard you are braking then prompt your trailer brakes to apply the same level of force. This means that both units slow at the same pace.
These inertia based brake control systems are more expensive, but have advantages over a timed brake controller setup. With proportional braking systems, you are able to brake smoothly, and there is less wear and tear on the brakes of your trailer and tow vehicle.
Connecting your brake controller
Many modern brake controllers are designed to be plugged straight into a tow package via a ponytail connection. Provided they are compatible, you will be able to get on the road immediately, although you should test the system before getting onto a fast or crowded road.
Unfortunately, many vehicles are not fitted with a tow package. In addition, not every tow package is compatible with every model of brake controller.
For this reason, most manufacturers supply a wiring harness with their units. With a good set of instructions installing your brake controller using a harness is as simple as plugging the correct wire into the connectors, locking them and plugging the connector into the unit.
Buying the right trailer brake controller
The manufacturers of brake controllers work hard to make the connection process as easy as possible. Usually all you need to do is to type your make and model of vehicle into a simple search form, to identify which systems can be fitted to your vehicle.
Most manufacturers make very good products, and provide excellent support. Below we share with you the details of trailer brake control systems that are made by four of the very best towing accessory manufacturers.
One of the most well known trailer brake control system brands is Prodigy. The owner of the brand is Tekonsha, a company that started out by making RV and caravan steps, in 1964.
Today, they are one of the most trusted names in the trailer safety sector. Over the years, they have designed and manufactured several high quality electronic brake controllers including the P2, P3, Primus and Voyager models.
The controllers, trailer brakes and wiring solutions they make are equally popular with weekend towers, and professionals. You will see Prodigy electronic brake controllers fitted on horseboxes, large RVs, as well as car or motorbike trailers, which are used by professional or semi-professional teams. Read More »
Reese Towpower electronic brake controllers have been available for decades. The company first became involved in the towing industry, in 1952. They specialize in making towing accessories for the heavy towing sectors, but now also serve the domestic towing market.
Their patented designs are popular and practical. A fact that has lead to them winning several product awards. They have a reputation for coming up with innovations that make their towing accessories easy to fit, use, update, and move from one vehicle to another. Read More »
Hopkins towing solutions was founded in 1953. From the start, they specialized in producing innovative towing electrical products. This company’s number one aim is simplifying the consumer use experience. They produce high-end products, for an affordable price.
Over the decades, they have come up with several important innovations, including their patented Plug in Simple® Vehicle Wiring Kits. Many of these innovations are incorporated into Hopkins brake controllers.
To make sure that they serve every type of customer, they offer an extensive range. You can choose between their Insight, Reliance, Impulse, Agility and Brake-Force electronic brake controllers. Hopkins sells both timed and proportional trailer brake control systems.
If you want to move a brake controller from one vehicle to another, or are struggling to install any brand of brake control system Hopkins is likely to be able to help. They sell nearly 300 different connectors, adapters, and a big range of wiring harnesses. Read More »
You could perhaps describe CURT manufacturing as the new boy on the block. This all-American firm has only been directly involved in the towing industry since 1993, but their use of innovative manufacturing techniques has allowed them to make a positive contribution.
When you buy a CURT brake controller you know you are going to get a piece of equipment that does the job and is well supported.
If you have problems, finding the right towing accessories for your vehicle/trailer combination CURT can often solve the issue. They make custom parts and wiring kits, as well as a range of mass produced towing equipment. Read More »