Here at All Vehicle Accessories Direct we like to provide the best possible information on our products, and help people to choose the right product for their needs.
Today we’re going to take a look at things to consider when purchasing a brake controller. You’ll find more specific information on our newest available products in following blog posts.
First, let’s consider WHY you need a brake controller in the first place. The brake controller is arguably the most important safety device in any towing vehicle and selecting the right one ensures that you’ll get the best possible performance from you trailers braking system. Most modern caravans are built fitted with electric brakes – in order to function, these brakes require electric currents from a brake controller (mounted in your car). As per safety regulations, trailers or caravans that are being towed and exceed 750kg require independent brakes.
We’ll be looking at some of the different brands and models of brake controllers in the following articles, but the most important thing to note is that brake controllers fall into two main categories – proportional (also known as inertia sensing) and solid state. We’ll discuss the differences in detail as we move through the featured brake controllers, but for now let’s discuss the main considerations people have when choosing a brake controller.
The size and weight of the caravan are the most obvious considerations. Whilst there a no exact guide lines on what sized trailer goes with which brake controller, it can generally be said that, a larger caravan will benefit more from a proportional inertia sensing controller; whereas smaller trailers may find the solid state controller more beneficial.
When choosing an appropriate place for mounting the controller, note that all brake controllers need to be within easy reach of the driver and that most brake controllers (excluding the RedArc units) will need space under the dash for mounting. If your cabin has restricted space around the driver’s seat, using a discreet unit like the Red Arc may be your only option.
How many Axles are on the trailer? Most brake controllers will list the maximum number of axles they can be used with. Whilst this number more accurately concerned with estimating the total number of brake actuators fitted, by picking a brake controller that is suitable for the same number or of axles on your trailer, or greater, you should avoid any issues.
Is the trailer fitted with a standard electric system, or an electric/hydraulic system? The term “electric brake controller” as it is usually discussed, does not include systems that use electric/hydraulic brakes, so it’s important to find out from the manufacturer if your trailer is fitted with this kind of braking system and to specifically mention it to the installer when making enquiries. Fortunately many modern brake controller, including some of the ones we will look at do suit most electric/hydraulic braking systems, but not all, so ask the trailer manufacturer if in doubt.
Does the vehicle operate on a 12 or 24 volt system? In order to work, it’s imperative that the system matches the voltage provided by your towing vehicle. Be sure to check this carefully, as most controllers are for 12 volt systems.
And of course the frequency of usage – drivers who tow frequently may notice the difference in precision provided by the inertia sensing (proportional) unit; but those who tow “every now and again” may appreciate the long-term reliability and simplicity provided by the solid state (time delay) units.
For more help in choosing the right brake controller for you, please speak with one of our friendly staff today.