What Is A Trailer Brake Controller?

Trailer Brake Controller

Towing a heavy trailer doesn’t only include hooking up and heading out. Yes, you read that right. There are plenty of accessories one needs for a safe and smooth towing experience. So what are they?

You might need a trailer hitch receiver, hitch ball mount, hitch-lock, towing mirror, plus the best trailer brake controller. It is difficult for a vehicle’s brake to bring the trailer and vehicle itself to a complete stop at a specific time.

Undoubtedly, here a trailer brake controller comes in handy. It instantly applies the brakes on the trailer when you step on your vehicle’s brake. In addition, the brake controller automatically senses when the brake is used and helps decline your stopping distance.

But, do you know what is a trailer brake controller? Let’s explore what it is, how it works as well as why you need one!

What Is A Trailer Brake Controller?

A trailer brake controller is an electronic device used to regulate or activate the electric brakes. It is attached to the driver’s side dashboard area of the tow vehicle. Besides, the controller involves the electrical braking system of a trailer.

The driver can activate and monitor how the trailer brake performs from the cab of the vehicle. And the central part is, it includes a few controls. There is an interface to monitor braking information and some buttons to control the manual start and the output.

How Many Types of Trailer Brake Controller Are There?

Trailer brake controllers can be classified into two main categories;

  • Proportional or inertia-based controller
  • Non-proportional or time-delayed controller

Proportional Controller

A proportional brake controller includes a sensor to sense the amount of force applied to the vehicle’s brake. Its job is to determine the intensity of the tow vehicle’s braking. This type of controller performs under heavy braking events.

After calculating the applied force, it allows the tow vehicle and trailer to slow down at the same speed. In addition, an inertia-based controller provides a more steady and progressive braking feel from the trailer.

Non-Proportional Controller

A non-proportional controller, on the other hand, works a little simply and differently. Instead of depending on the force, it depends more on time. Once the controller detects a brake in the tow vehicle, it applies the brake on the trailer after a preset time.

The controller sends a signal to the trailer when you apply the brake in the tow vehicle. The user can set the time delay and a braking force value based on the trailer weight’s driving conditions.

Which One Is Superior, Proportional, Or Non-Proportional?

The proportional controller can be your best pick when you tow a trailer often. But, if you pull every now and then, you may want to opt for a non-proportional controller. The time-delayed value and braking value vary automatically. So, a time-delayed controller performs better in an emergency event.

How Does a Trailer Brake Controller Works?

As mentioned, you can split trailer brake controllers into categories, including; proportional and non-proportional controllers. So the working principle of both classes is different.

Also, there are categories within these two types for the method of activation the controller uses. Below we shortly explained how each type of controller works.

·       Proportional Operation

An inertia-based or proportional brake controller operated through an electric circuit called an accelerometer. This electric circuit senses the changes in momentum. Once you press the brake pedal in the tow vehicle, the controller puts on power to the trailer brakes.

It applies power to the trailer brakes according to the vehicle’s momentum. For example, when you are breaking up a hill, the controller uses less energy. Similarly, it applies less power when you are breaking down.

·       Time-delayed Operation

The time-delayed controller operates based on the preset time. For example, when you press the brake pedal, the controller activates the trailer brake. Then, it applies a certain amount of power after a fixed time, which is called gain.

The user can attune the gain setting of these controllers to accommodate certain trailers. However, the operation of a time-delayed controller is not as precise as a proportional controller.

Why Needs a Trailer Brake Controller?

Simply put, a trailer brake controller helps the driver to stop. It’s a massive benefit for towing a large, heavy trailer. When you are driving across the country, a brake controller helps you enjoy a smooth ride. It also prevents from having a severe slowdown.

Moreover, a break controller helps to decline your stopping distance. So you can stop the vehicle in time and avoid any accident. Finally, some brake controllers adjust automatically based on the terrain. Those units come in handy while traveling through hilly terrains.

Final Verdict

Haven’t you bought a trailer brake controller yet? If not, you must give it a try! A brake controller will surely make your towing experience smooth. Also, it will make each journey safe and stress-free. Though you may need to spend a few bucks, it is surely worth it!


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