There are more than 50,000 accidents related to towing each year, according to the National Highway Transportation Administration. When towing, having the right brake controller is crucial to ensuring that your trailer braking system is always working properly. This will help to prevent accidents and damage to your truck or other vehicles. Brake controllers physically link your truck’s brake pedal with the brakes on the towed trailer.
If you have just bought a trailer, then you may be wondering, “What is the best type of brake controller to use for my new trailer?”
To choose the best brake controller, you should first understand your trailer brake system, types of brake controllers available, and when they are used. To that end, this article will guide you on how to choose the best brake controller.
Types Of Trailer Brakes
First, not all trailer brake systems will require controllers. There are two types of trailer brakes. The first, surge brakes, operate on an automatic hydraulic braking system. The surge brakes use the trailers momentum and own weight, which pushes against a hydraulic cylinder when you step on the towing vehicle’s brakes. Therefore, a surge braking system does not require a brake controller to function.
Next, there’s the electric trailer brake, which uses electric power to function. These brakes use electric power from the towing vehicle to operate electromagnetic brake drums. The electric brake must be activated to work. Thus, you will need to install a trailer electric brake controller to use the electric brakes at will.
Types Of Brake Controllers
An RV trailer brake control system is a small electronic device that connects the electric brakes of the trailer to a tow vehicle which allows the driver to operate the brakes. The brake controller has different controls that can be set by the driver as per his or her preferences.
A brake controller has adjustable settings, where a sliding button or wheel can be used to adjust the gain and sensitivity of the trailer brakes. There may also be a second sliding button which can be used to activate the electric trailer brakes without stepping on the brake pedals in case of emergencies such as trailer sway control.
Brake controllers are classified based on the activation method, and there are two types: proportional and time-based controllers. A proportional trailer brake controller utilizes an electrical accelerometer that senses the resistance or inertia of the tow vehicle and applies power to the brakes in proportion with the vehicle’s momentum.
The advantages of proportional brake controllers are that they provide smoother stops and efficient braking, especially on steep areas. When traveling downhill, more power is required as opposed to uphill. These controllers are able to sense the difference in momentum and apply power accordingly.
On the other hand, time-based brake controllers power the trailer brakes based on the preset brake settings as soon as the driver steps on the brake pedal. They are effective, responsive, and easy to use, but not as flexible as proportional brake controllers.
What Is The Best Type Of Brake Controller For Your Trailer?
What is the best type of brake controller depends on the type and purpose of your trailer. Before choosing a trailer brake controller, consider the type of trailer you will be towing and the frequency you will be traveling. If you will be towing heavy cargo such as livestock, construction materials, or any other fragile cargo, go for the proportional brake controller. They are best suited for heavy-duty towing as they perform smoother stops which minimize stress on the cargo.
When towing lightweight trailers such as pontoon boats or popup campers, a time-based brake works just fine. The time-based brake controller will perform well and is also affordable. Time-based brake controllers are also good for people who travel a few times in a year, while proportional brake controllers should be used for frequent or commercial towing, as they are more dependable and accurate. All these factors will help you decide what is the best type of brake controller to use for your trailer.