Hopkins Towing Solutions

Innovation and Value, two characteristics that Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation strive to associate with their towing products – including their line of brake controllers. Hopkins have been producing towing equipment since 1953, with a mission statement that aims to simplify the consumer experience and dominate the towing electrics sector. Tow brake systems is only one line of products that Hopkins have gained a quality reputation in, with snow tools, cleaning and RV products and equipment filling out the product range.

With a 300 staff facility in Kansas, and a 200 staff premises in Mexico, Hopkins continue to strive for innovation and market saturation with their unique and quality motoring products.

Hopkins provide electric and electric/brake controllers than can function with 4, 6 or 8 brakes and they offer both time based and inertia based proportional brake controllers. The entire range comes with a lifetime warranty, consumers can therefore buy with confidence.

Insight

The Hopkins Insight is a no tools plug and play proportional brake controller that boasts a clever flex-mount that ensures drivers can mount the display quickly and easily exactly where they need it. This ease of mounting will appeal to drivers looking for a quick installation that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle without the need for drilling. It really is a clever technology and solves so many problems with conventional brake controller installations. It is simple to quickly have the unit installed with the digital readout mounted anywhere on the dash in line of sight, the manual controller within reach right by the steering wheel, and the power box can go anywhere out of harms way.

The unit is compatible with electric and electric over hydraulic trailer braking systems and comes with a lifetime warranty from Hopkins.

In use, the display is large and bright with a dimming function so as not to be distracting while driving at night. Note however that the Insight, as with the whole range, is a simple digital readout – nothing fancy or complex with these displays. A handy red light on this unit indicates that the manual controller is on.

Reliance

The Reliance is a time-based brake controller from Hopkins. Being time based this unit does not benefit from an inertia system found in proportional systems, and is therefore more suited to lighter loads such as small trailers or boats, or is suited for occasional use rather than daily use.

Without an inertia system, the Reliance can be mounted in any location and direction without impacting on its performance. The bracket is mounted easily using supplied screws.

As with all Hopkins brake controllers, this unit comes with a lifetime warranty.

Installation is relatively simple with the comprehensive instructions and supplied quick connector plug. Drivers will appreciate the simple universal installation and the wiring color codes detailed in the instructions.

The driver selects the braking power on a clear digital display that accommodates 4 brakes. Power is increased in 5% increments giving a large degree of control with this unit, with a quick test required to ensure that the braking effort matches the weight and momentum of the trailer.

Impulse

Hopkins Impulse brake controller is also a time-based controller, allowing for a simple installation without direction or levelling concerns. This unit is compatible with electric brakes and can handle 2, 4 and 6 brake systems, making it one of the most capable braking system in Hopkins range.

As with the Reliance, the braking effort on this controller is manual set on the digital ready out in 5% increments. After initial setup and testing the amount of braking effort can be adjusted on the fly using the same readout.

We liked the detailed instructions for the Impulse, that even included model specific installation instructions to help avoid issues due to differing wiring colors from popular models.

The Impulse is a nice low profile unit that will sit on any dashboard without being intrusive, while at the same time offering a clear digital display. We also liked the large easy to use manual override situated on top of the unit.

Brake-Force

The Hopkins Brake-Force is the third time based brake controller in the Hopkins range, like the Hopkins Impulse therefore it is very easy to setup. It’s so easy to setup in fact, that you can even mount it upside down and it will still operate, and the manual controller can still be used. Unlike the Impulse however it’s capacity is limited to 4 brakes.

The LED power display indicates braking intensity through different colored LEDs. Some drivers have expressed concern that the always-on amber/green light could be a drain on the battery, however as it draws a tiny 10 milliamps, it would take a battery many months to discharge at that rate.

The braking force is set with large buttons that adjust the digital readout, on later models the buttons have been replaced with a dial on the side of the unit.

Agility

Hopkins Agility brake controller is the second inertia activated proportional braking system for Hopkins, offering superior smooth braking for up to 8 brakes – making it the most capable brake controller in the Hopkins range.

On the move adjustments can be made on the fly using the plus and minus buttons on the top of the unit, providing exceptionally smooth braking in all circumstances. The clear instructions and plug and play harness make this a very easy unit to install, taking no more than 30 minutes, even for non-mechanics.

Summary

In summary, the time based brake controllers in the Hopkins range are the Impulse, the Reliance and the Brake Force. These are extremely easy to set up, inexpensive and functional.

If you can stretch the budget a little further, it is well worth going for one of the excellent inertia based proportional brake controllers, i.e. the InSight or the Agility. These provide smoother braking, for larger loads and a higher number of brakes.

Also, note that only the proportional brake controllers can operate with electric / hydraulic brakes.