What Are Brake Controllers?

If you’ve towed a trailer before, then you know that slowing it down can be challenging due to the extra weight. That’s why trailers or RVs which are in two categories—motorhomes (motorized) and towables (behind the family car, van, or pickup)—need brake controllers for safe towing.

Not only do they regulate the trailer’s brakes but also help the towing truck and trailer stop at the same time. Brake controllers help distribute the weight and alert the trailer’s brake system on the amount of braking power required to stop the trailer. In fact, many states require drivers to use trailers to equip them with brake controllers. Here’s more about brake controllers.

What Are Brake Controllers?

A brake controller is a small electronic device installed in a tow truck to activate a trailer’s brakes whenever brakes are applied to the towing car. It also helps the driver to monitor the trailer’s brake activity from the towing vehicle.

A brake controller has two parts:

  • The interface for viewing the braking information and the buttons for controlling the output
  • The manual activation for applying trailer brakes without applying them on the tow vehicle. It’s particularly helpful in preventing trailer sway

Why Brake Controllers Are Important

Brake controllers can help you brake properly by controlling the stopping distance and your trailer’s sway. Typically, the controllers help connect the trailer’s and the towing vehicle’s brakes making it easy to activate them when needed.

You could be wondering, “Why not connect the tow vehicle’s brake wiring directly to the trailer?” While this technique can also help apply the brakes to the trailer, you’ll be braking badly. That’s because the setup allows maximum braking all the time which could wear out the towing vehicle’s brakes rapidly. Brake controllers also regulate the speed and braking intensity at which the brakes are applied based on the terrain, trailer’s load weight, and size.

Types of Brake Controllers

Brake controllers are classified in different two broad categories based on their capacities and styles:

Time-Delayed Brake Controllers

This brake controller applies a predetermined amount of power to the RV’s brakes each time the truck stops. The driver sets the power beforehand based on the trailer’s weight and can be adjusted to accommodate different trailers.

The trailer doesn’t always stop immediately after applying the brakes but the driver may install a sync switch to compensate for this delay. Time-delayed brake controllers are effective, affordable, and easy to install but they wear out the braking system rapidly.

Proportional Brake Controllers

These brake controllers have a motion-sensing device called an accelerometer that detects any changes in momentum. Every time the driver applies brakes, the device transmits the same braking power to the trailer’s brakes, making it stop. Proportional controller brakes have a more efficient braking system because both braking systems perform the same amount of work. Also, they reduce the wear on each vehicle’s braking system.

Planning to hit the road soon? Have your trailer equipped with brake controllers from Hayes Towing Electronics. We have a range of brake controllers so you’re sure to find a suitable one for your RV. Get in touch with us for any inquiries or to place an order.

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