Brake Controllers

10 Best Trailer Brake Controllers in 2019: Proportional & Time-delayed

Last Updated: 21 Nov 2018

The best trailer brake controller you can wish for is a unique device that manages to effectively transmit the energy from the car to the electric brake system of the camper. It goes active just after the brake system of the vehicle is activated. If your camper is equipped with an electrical system, you definitely need trailer brake controller.

Such devices have a small size and are located under the hood and can be easily reached with the turn of a screw. The braking force can be controlled from the driver’s seat by moving the lever back and forth. Also, it is possible to find the best trailer brake controller equipped with a manual blocking system. Brake controllers with this system allow the driver to activate the camper’s brakes without any dependence on the main stops of the vehicle.

Trailer Brake Controllers FAQs

What Does a Trailer Brake Controller Do?

Energy feeds the controller from the vehicle's stop lights and activates the auto-break through a separate, more powerful circuit that is powered through the electrical connector. This allows the trailer brakes to turn on automatically when the driver presses the pedal of the vehicle with force set by the controller. When the best trailer brake controller is set up correctly, the driver can slow down the car and the camper in a simple way as if the trailer is not applied.

The wires used for connection should have a right cross-section to transfer the required amount of energy to the camper stopping system. Besides, there should be a return ground wire. The entire system needs proper maintenance, as from time to time, it will be necessary to implement some adjustments into the system installed.

What Is a Proportional Trailer Brake Controller?

A proportional trailer brake controller is the most popular device on the market today. It has a complicated design and is equipped with a CPU, being able to calculate the speed and the force, aspects needed to stop the trailer. It guarantees that enough amount of power will be delivered to the trailer brakes.

Do You Need a Trailer Brake Controller?

The ideal model of such a device doesn’t require a significant investment, but if you buy it, you will definitely feel safe when towing the camper. Keep in mind, if your camper is equipped with hydraulic brakes operated by the electric pump, it is necessary to find a controller compatible with this type of brakes.

How Do You Wire a Trailer Brake Controller?

Usually, the trailer brake controller is sold with a unique wiring harness. In case your car has a towing pack, the brake control system might be already wired and ready to be used. It may be necessary to use the wiring of your car.

The procedure of the electric brake controller installation is the following:

Step #1 Get the wire harness ready.

This means installing the wires. The cars with pre-installed cables have a corresponding label, like, for example, an electric trailer brake controller. If you are not that lucky, then you have to splice the wires by yourself. Still, thanks to different colors, it will be easy to do.

Step #2 Install the controller.

The location of the trailer brake controller should be accessible. This way, you will be able to adjust it any time necessary.

Step #3 Calibrate the controller

Usually, such devices are supplied with numerous setting options. Take the model of your car and the trailer’s weight into account. The user manual on the camper will help you understand the setting.

If it’s your first attempt to work with wiring a trailer brake controller, it would be better to consult a professional.

TOP 10 Best Trailer Brake Controllers Compared and Reviewed

1. Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Controller

1. Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Controller

This type is time-delayed. It has a compact design equipped with an illuminated LED display. It can control a maximum of four-axle trailers.

I love that it constantly proves itself. Very reliable.

However, if your car doesn’t have a wire jack, you will have to spend more time mounting it.

2. Tekonsha 90195 P3

2. Tekonsha 90195 P3

An electronic type that can control up to four axles. It is equipped with an LCD and capable of self- diagnostic. Alerts you in no time after problem detections.

It does what it’s supposed to do. And I love that I can customize the color display to match gauge package. And I love how it also has two more language options.

I would say that the price is quite heavy, but don’t let that break the deal for you.

3. Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2

3. Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2

This model can control a maximum of 4 braking axles and is compatible with electrical over hydraulic brake systems.

I like the assist from the Boost feature. And I’m totally confident about its durability.

I sometimes find the brightness too distracting, and there’s no way to decrease it.

4. Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop

4. Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop

This is an electronic type that can control three axles. It is capable of self-leveling.

This is excellent for its price. This has the quality of a Tekonsha product in a lower price.

I wish I could say installing it was a breezy as I have read on the reviews. I think it was the fault of the vague instructions. Youtube can make a difference for you.

5. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ

5. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ

While it controls one less axle compared to 90195, it’s a lot easier to install.

Aside from the expected smooth braking experience, I love how easy it is to install. Maybe it’s because my car is already prepped for a brake controller.

My only qualm is with the blue button. It is a potential risk because it sometimes sinks in.

6. Reese Towpower Brakeman 74642

6. Reese Towpower Brakeman 74642

It is only designed for an axle or two axle trailers. And it is anti-lock braking system compatible.

I like that it doesn’t have a complicated design. It has a slide adjustment and an indicator light. And I think it has the durability to last. Overall, it’s fantastic for a time-based type.

However, setting it up was a tricky. I couldn’t make sense of the instruction. I gave up and had someone else do the job.

7. Curt 51140 TriFlex

7. Curt 51140 TriFlex

A time-based type that operates with a built-in accelerometer with three axes. It can control a maximum of four axles.

I immediately noticed how easier it is to brake with it. Installation was done in five minutes and didn’t need calibration.

One drawback is this drained my battery even though my trailer wasn’t connected.

8. Curt 51110 Venturer Brake Controller

8. Curt 51110 Venturer Brake Controller

Curt 51110 can handle a maximum of three axles.

I love that this controller is user-friendly. The instructions were very clear, so it only took me around 10 minutes. It works well for lightweight loads.

However, I think the display could use some adjustments for the brightness.

9. Hopkins 47297 Insight Brake Controller

9. Hopkins 47297 Insight Brake Controller

Hopkins Insight is compatible with hydraulic and electric brakes. Controls a maximum of four axles.

I like how Hopkins has broken it down to three components. It allows me to put them where I want and exactly need them to be.

While it may be easy to install, I had to skip the double-sided tape it came with. I didn’t trust it enough to hold the unit in place.

10. 47284 Hopkins

10. 47284 Hopkins

Another time-based controller that can control 4 axles. It is equipped with full digital settings and displays the braking power percentage.

The best part of the deal is the lifetime warranty. It looks durable, but I like how this strategy increases my confidence as a customer.

It sad news is it does not come with a wiring harness to the trailer, and I had to cut some wires to attach a plug.

Trailer Brake Controller Types

There are two types of trailer stop controllers – those that are sensitive to motion and those activated with a time delay. Even though the methods of action of these controllers are different, both types are very similar. All of them allow the driver to control the braking force and use a manual blocking lever to activate the trailer brakes separately from the car. Wiring configuration is also the same, but small differences are still present, so let’s take them into account.

1. Proportional Trailer Brake Controller

Proportional or motion-sensitive controllers are switched on by pressing a pedal and are activated using the pendulum circuit, which is sensitive to the degree of braking from the car. After that, a similar degree of braking power is supplied to trailer brakes. After correct installation, the stops of the trailer will work the same as those of the car. As a result, the performance of the trailer’s brakes improves. The proportional trailer brake controller is expensive and requires professional installation.

2. Time-Delayed Trailer Brake Controller

The trailer controllers of this type are cost-effective and easy to install. The design of this trailer braking controller allows installing it at any position, even upside-down, if you wish. With this device, the braking of the trailer will take place after you step the braking pedal of the car. It doesn’t happen at once, because the controller should send the information about the force of necessary power to the trailer. The main benefits of this type of trailer brake controller are its price, the effortless installation procedure, and the ability to connect to any kind of wiring harness.

Best Trailer Brake Controllers Buying Guide – What to Look for?

1. Type of the Trailer Brakes

There are electric and hydraulic trailer brakes. The electric brake controller is ubiquitous for trailers, as it doesn’t cost a lot of money and has an excellent service life. Hydraulic trailer brakes are more expensive and are usually installed on modern vehicles. In reality, the trailer can work with both of these types.

2. Voltage

It is necessary to be accurate with this, because it may differ: 12V or 24V. The wrong choice could potentially bring damage to your new trailer brake controller. Each manufacturer provides the information as for the voltage, so be attentive while choosing.

3. Axles

This parameter is responsible for the number of wheels that can be managed by the trailer brake controller. For example, 1-4 axles can easily control even 8 wheels simultaneously. The number of axles should be chosen, taking into account the type of camper. Selecting a device with fewer shafts than the trailer has is definitely not a good idea.

4. Display

If you want to be able to see what is happening with your wheels, it would be better to choose a model of the best trailer brake controller with a screen. This way, you can see the force of the breaks. Such displays are LED and are incredibly durable, and they may show various information. Therefore, choose the models which are the most informative.

5. Settings

The more setting your best trailer brake controller has, the more useful it is. For example, some devices allow choosing the type of breaks. Moreover, you will be able to change the pre-set parameters according to your personal needs.

6. Usability

The controller you are going to purchase should be easy to install. You will have to work with wires, and it should be easy for you to avoid damaging the whole system with the wrong action.

7. Size

Size also makes sense. The ideal device shouldn’t be too large, because in this case, it will catch your attention. Besides, you should first find the best place for the device, and then define what the most convenient size of it is.

8. Warranty

Pay attention to the warranty from the manufacturer. Usually, tools like the trailer brake controller are not easy to repair. Therefore, the period of the warranty should be at least 1 year.

The Best Trailer Brake Controller 2019. Final Advice

After we reviewed all TOP 10 best trailer brake controllers, it is time to explain why Tekonsha P3 appears to be our top pick. First of all, this model is very reliable and has a lot of positive reviews from pleased owners. Moreover, this brake controller comes equipped with a large enough easy-to-read display, which shows the information in 3 languages. The Boost feature of this trailer brake controller is also reliable at work. Plus, it has a perfect warning system, which alerts the driver about the cases when trailer brakes are not responding. In conclusion, if you are looking for the best trailer brake controller from a famous brand, containing all the useful features and settings, we recommend you choose Tekonsha P3.

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