It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when buying a new travel trailer, caravan or camper but choosing the right brake controller is essential. The towing weight of most trailers necessitates the use of a trailer brake system. In the majority of cases this is likely to be an electric brake system.
Without this braking assistance you’ll be at odds with the law, and you’re also putting your safety at risk. The forward momentum of an unbraked caravan pushing behind a tow vehicle that’s attempting to come to a stop is not just inconvenient, it’s dangerous.
Do Caravans Need Electric Brakes?
Whether or not caravans, campers, travel trailers (or in fact any type of trailer) is required to have a braking system is based on its weight. After a decision by the State Ministers of Transport in 1998, a new suite of towing regulations were put in place across Australia. These laws set out the rules for which trailers did or didn’t need to be braked, and what method was to be used.
For vehicles exceeding 750kg Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) the regulations require a service brake on at least one axle. This can include electric, hydraulic or over-run brakes. Above 2,000kg GTM, an electric brake system on all axles must be used and an emergency brake (or breakaway system) must be installed. The majority of caravan owners in Australia use electric brakes.
Do I Need A Brake Controller For Electric Brakes?
For an electric brake control system to operate, the electric trailer brakes must be powered by the tow vehicle. Additionally, they must be regulated by an electric brake controller. A brake controller is an electronic device that activates and, as the word suggests, controls the electric brakes of a trailer. A mechanism to adjust this electric brake control unit must be within reach of the driver.
How do proportional brake controllers work in travel trailers?
Proportional brake controllers can be known by a number of names. These include inertia-based brake controllers or motion-sensing electric brake controllers. Whatever you call them their key function is to brake the trailer when you brake the tow vehicle and using the same amount of force. This makes for a very smooth towing experience as the deceleration of trailer is always being handled in-synch with the tow vehicle.
Proportional brake controllers like Elecbrakes use an accelerometer to detect the inertia of the tow-vehicle. Elecbrakes has perfected the implementation of this proportional brake control system by developing a number of innovative technologies and processes. You can read more about how our proportional brake controller works here.
There are a number of key benefits of proportional brake control. This includes the intuitive nature of the system taking away the need to constantly adjust a set brake response (which would be the case with a non-proportional braking system such as a timed brake controller). Also, the fact that the trailer braking process occurs in real time allows the driver to control the trailer momentum more accurately which is especially important for heavy loads.
In addition to the performance benefits of a proportional unit, there is also reduced wear and tear on the brakes themselves. This is due to the fact that the braking apparatus on the trailer is only used as much as the brake pedal in the tow vehicle is applied. Meaning that when a very slight push is given to the brake pedal, only a very slight engagement of the trailer brakes is activated. This avoids the unnecessary over-engagement (and hence reduced life expectancy) of the trailer brakes that is common with timed, non-proportional systems.
Benefits of a wireless brake controller for travel trailers
Elecbrakes is the best brake controller for travel trailers, caravans and campers due to a number of revolutionary design features. One of the most innovative of these features is its wireless connection to the in car controller.
Elecbrakes’ competitors are stuck in an old model of thinking when it comes to electric brake control. This conventional system requires that the control module is hard wired into the dashboard of the tow-vehicle. With Elecbrakes, the in car controller connects wirelessly to the base unit on the trailer, providing secure and flexible control.
Multi tow vehicle use for ultimate flexibility
Due to the hardwired nature of conventional brake controllers, they require that a separate unit be installed on every single vehicle that needs to be used to tow a trailer. While this may seem like an okay situation for a household with just one trailer, keep in mind that the average lifespan of a trailer is several times higher than that of the vehicle. This means that every time you replace your tow vehicle you’ll need to factor in the added expense of a new brake controller.
With an investment in Elecbrakes, you only ever need to purchase the one brake controller for each trailer. The in-car control device is a wireless remote control or a smartphone app, which means that once you have the Elecbrakes unit fitted any compatible vehicle can be used to tow.
Preset brake programs for varied towing scenarios
Another benefit of the Elecbrakes smart braking system is the phone app which gives real time data of exactly how much your trailer brakes are being used. The app also allows you to easily configure up to five braking programs for tweaking the brake response in different situations. Many caravan or travel trailer owners find this useful when they want to remember the ideal settings used on a previous trip. This could be for scenarios where you’re towing an empty trailer versus a fully loaded one for example.
No need to modify your tow vehicle or pay for installation
The wireless in-car connection of Elecbrakes is supported by a plug and play installation option. This means that not only is it easier than any other product to swap between tow vehicles, it’s also incredibly easy to install on your trailer in the first place. In fact, our plug and play option is so easy that we’ve found anyone can get up and running in as little as ten minutes, with no electrical expertise required.
The wireless connection also means that you can leave your tow vehicle untouched, with no need to cut into the dashboard to mount a hardwired controller.
Where can I get a brake controller installed?
As we’ve highlighted above, there’s no need to employ a professional installer when you choose Elecbrakes’ plug and play installation option. There is also a trailer-wired connection which still connects wirelessly to the tow-vehicle, but is spliced into the trailers loom, rather than being plugged in. If you do like the sleeker look of the trailer-wired installation option you could choose to get assistance from an installer. Many of our stockists would either offer this installation themselves or have relationships with local trusted installers who they could recommend. To find your nearest Elecbrakes stockist click here.
Elecbrakes is the best brake controller for travel trailers for many reasons. It provides the smoothest proportional brake response. It offers unrivalled flexibility to use whichever tow vehicle you want (or even hire a trailer out to people without their own brake controllers). It means you don’t have to cut into the dashboard of your tow vehicle. The smartphone interface allows you to configure convenient braking programs and the unit can be installed by anyone in as little as 10 minutes. What’s not to love?
Get brake smart. Get Elecbrakes.