Electric brake controllers

Submitted: Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 11:51
ThreadID: 105196 Views:3376 Replies:11 FollowUps:26
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I need to put a brake controller into a new car. I am tossing up between the Tekonsha prodigy p3 and the redarc. I understand that the redarc applies the trailer brakes at whatever it has been set on - no matter how hard the car brakes are applied and the prodigy will apply the trailer brakes in a similar manner to the force applied for the car brakes. My current vehicle has a prodigy controller so I am familiar with its use and boost function. I tow a camper trailer that is about 2 tonne fully loaded or a horse float (1 tonne empty or anything up to 2.5 tonne depending on the size and how many horses I have loaded). I find that when I tow the float empty or just with a little pony on, the brakes tend to be very 'grabby', but are much better with a heavier load. Should I go for a redarc and just increase the setting when towing heavier loads, or recalibrate the prodigy each time, or just have it set lower and use the boost function? Thanks, Leanne.
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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:23

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:23
The P3 for me.... everytime.......
Insanity doesnt run in my family.... it gallops!

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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:28

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:28
What do you do when towing different loads? Reset it every time, or just have it set at bit lowered use the boost? Have you used the Redarc at all? Thank you for your input. Leanne
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Follow Up By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 08:14

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 08:14
Hi Leanne,
The only 'trailer' (with electric brakes)I tow is a 3.5 tonne Kedron van as its load is fairly constant .... I set and forget (about the controller)
In your case carrying one or several horses your load would vary greatly requiring adjustment for each trip, as you already have a P3 and would be aware of its progressive/inertia operation.
Not knocking the Redark product.......but the P3 is more refined and definitely suited to your use.....

CU down the road.....
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Reply By: The Landy - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:58

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:58
I tow a TVAN (1,200kg max) and use the Redarc EBRH unit which I find sufficient for purpose and the weight. In traffic I might have it set a touch "higher", otherwise a nominal setting is fine.

Can't comment on the others.

Cheers
AnswerID: 521762

Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:51

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:51
What would you do if you towed something heavier? Set it higher? Thanks, Leanne.
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:01

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:01
Yes...

Although, this is all we ever tow...

Cheers..
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:05

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:05
Leanne, if you have different loads the Redarc will drive you nuts. You will be adjusting it all the time.

I had a redarc with my camper, always the same weight but on different conditions, traffic, open road, dirt road etc etc and was always adjusting it. Trouble is you have to guess how much braking you will need at the next stop. I changed it to a P3 and haven't adjusted it in 3 years.

IMHO your short list should be Tekonsha P3 or Tekonsha P3.
AnswerID: 521763

Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:50

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:50
I guess I am thinking that I should be adjusting the Tekonsha every time I have a different towed weight and it looks like the redarc would be easier to adjust?? If you were to tow something a lot heavier than your camper, would you adjust your Tekonsha or just increase your boost? To have to adjust the Tekonsha with horses on board could be a bit tricky. I just want the float brakes when towed empty or only one little pony on to stop being so 'grabby'. When I have two big warmbloods on (each weighing approx 650kg), the brakes are fine. Thanks for your input. Leanne.
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:58

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 13:58
The Tekonsha is set and forget. The only people that rave about the Redarc are the ones that have never used anything better i.e. Tekonsha.

Tekonsha actually have three models from the IQ, P2 and P3 - I find the IQ works fine for me at about half the cost of the P3.

Only problem with the Tekonsha is finding somewhere to mount it but if you say what type of vehicle you have I am certain someone will tell you where to stick it (I am talking about the brake controller ;=)) ).
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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:02

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:02
It will go into a 200 series. I think the best place to put it is in the ash tray cavity???
I know the Tekonsha is supposed to be set and forget, but since I have been towing very different loads I have had problems with the brakes seeming to be too strong with lighter loads.
Thanks, Leanne.
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Follow Up By: Rick (S.A.) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:09

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:09
Quote:

"the Redarc will drive you nuts. You will be adjusting it all the time."

"The only people that rave about the Redarc are the ones that have never used anything better"

and other similar comments:

- well, the adjustable feature is exactly what I want. On the Redarc I can just twist the little dial to adjust the settings as & when I need - or leave it set if so desired.

So on a given day when I want the trailer brakes to operate differently on differing surfaces & conditions, it's easy as. I prefer to have different settings for empty, half load, full load, sand, dirt, bitumen etc.

I'm not raving about Redarc but to imply that a failure to recognise other brands, features & applications, is a bias that does not apply to all of us.

Cheers

RM
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 15:28

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 15:28
Rick, I understand where you are coming from but you didn't quote the most important part of my post.

"Trouble is you have to guess how much braking you will need at the next stop."

My point is no matter how much you adjust it. You can't guess the conditions for next time you stop, or you forget to adjust it. It's never the right amount because it is a factory set formula of braking application speed, adjusted by you, in advance of each braking application. If you don't get it right then you brake too hard or too soft for that time you put the brakes on.

I am glad you are happy, but I thought it was dangerous. The P3 measures deceleration then applies the braking according to that 1 /100 th of a second brake force. You do still need to modify it for different weights and brake effectiveness though when you change trailer conditions.
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Reply By: Iza B - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:03

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:03
I have just installed a Redarc with the remote head after test driving and trying several of the others. I find having the controls at my fingertips very useful for changing settings for driving conditions and for different loads. Overall, very happy.

Iza
AnswerID: 521764

Reply By: Member - flashcher - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:52

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 14:52
Another vote for the redarc. We have the dial installed into one of the vacant blanks in our dash.
My husband has driven many different vehicles and trailer combinations with electric brakes and he has never complained about the redarc.
AnswerID: 521765

Reply By: olcoolone - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 15:16

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 15:16
Seeing we fit and sell both the Redarc and Tekonsha and we are very supportive of redarc who manufacture and sell fantastic stuff we still prefer and recommend the Tekonsha over the Redarc for brake controllers.

The only real advantage of the Redarc is the ability to fit the controls remotely making it a hell of a lot easier to fit and look neat.

The Tekonsha is a much better brake controller as it applies the brakes progressively based on deceleration rates and has a few more user features.

We have a Tekonsha in our 200 series and a Redarc in our Ranger due to mounting location restrictions...... the two are like chalk and cheese.

If you have used the Prodigy previously; going to the Redarc will disappoint you and you may find it annoying.

The only time you have to really calibrate a brake controller is if you use two trailers with different brakes adjustment.

The boost function doesn't increase the brake force in sense, it removes the delay from when you apply the vehicle brakes to when the trailer brakes start activating/retarding the trailer...... B1 will give about a 13% of the preset level from word go and B3 about 25%.... in the normal mode the trailer brakes will start at zero% and increase until it reaches the preset. level making the trailer brakes react slower.
AnswerID: 521769

Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:00

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:00
Thank you for your very detailed reply. Is the Tekonsha in your 200 series mounted in the ash tray cavity? If you have a UHF, where is it mounted?
According to your reply, I should be calibrating the Tekonsha each time I go from a lighter load to a heavy load (and vice versa), and not necessarily using the boost function. Is this correct? Or should I calibrate it to the lighter load and use the boost for heavier loads?
Leanne
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 19:36

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 19:36
Yes the brake controller is mounted in the ash tray cutout and our UHF is mounted in the centre console under the lid along with our Icom HF radio...... both radios have remote heads with the rest mounted out of sight, the advantage of mounting them in there is to stop prying eyes and cabin clutter...... so like to use their radio and other gear as a lookatme lookatme symbolic symbol by mounting them in view of everyone, or they are gadjet people who like flashing lights and gauges....... for me it's got to be practical, neat and tidy.

There is not set rule for setting up a brake controller, it all depends on what you feel comfortable with, what you are towing with and road conditions.

The brake controller should be set to be able to retard the vehicle and trailer by itself and should offer a balanced feel when vehicle and trailer are braked together offering enhanced braking, not wiplash.

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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 06:26

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 06:26
Hi Olcoolone,
Can you tell me if the P3 with the multi trailer function is approved in Australia? I queried an eBay seller about it and they said it wasn't.
Cheers, Leanne
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 18:14

Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 18:14
The new P3 with multi trailer function is approved for Australia BUT seeing it's hasn't been on the market for long in the USA; Australian wholesalers will not have it available until all current stocks of the older P3 are sold.

Unfortunately most eBay sellers only look out for number one and provide information best suited for them to get sales, this eBayer by the sounds of it buys through one of the Australian wholesalers like we do.
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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 18:51

Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 18:51
Thank you Olcoolone.
I rang my local ARB today and they tried to talk me into the redarc. They sounded very convincing until I said that I wanted the pendulum style controller. Then it was clear that I wasn't just a gullible female, I knew a bit about what I wanted, so they backed right off and admitted they only sold and installed the redarc.
I rang an auto electrician (recommended by ARB when asked) and am now in the process of organising them to install the P3. They also assured me they can get the new P3 with multi trailer function.
Cheers, Leanne.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 08:40

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 08:40
Just make sure if you're after a multi trailer version; thats what your going to get....... many places sell and fit stuff but have no real experience in using them in real life situations.

We have this rule that if we are going to sell a product we have to use it ourselves for 3-6 months to see what it works like. if it passes then we sell and promote it..... and if it doesn't.......?
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FollowupID: 802828

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 17:53

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 17:53
I've been using a Prodigy for about 10 years now - installed in two different tugs, towing a camper and the current van, respectively. Its been a great unit throughout. As for adjustments though - while the Redarc sounds simplistic in that it requires resets for new loads (if I understand the above), even the 'smart' Prodigy requires a voltage/boost tweak here and there - dust, water and component wear produce variable braking performance at times and I usually run boost in city traffic, where one is far more likely to have to stop in a hurry. Periodic checking and adjustment of brake shoe clearance can't be ignored either.
AnswerID: 521782

Reply By: scandal - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 17:57

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 17:57
After a great deal of research I bought tekonsha (cannot remember if is a P2 or P3) brake controller for my 1 1/2 ton camper behind my 100 series Cruiser from ebay, it was around half the price than an off the shelf item but still came at a premium
The main reason was because of its ability to the apply high or low brake inertia when required, that is to say that if you are using light brake application it will also do that, stand on the brakes, they will do the same with out any intervention from the driver, not many brake controllers have this function, it has an in built gyro which seems to work well , the down side is it has to be mounted a certain way or it will make the gyro inoperable.
They also have a set and forget function for multiple trailers, set for trailer 1, trailer 2 and I think trailer 3? defiantly at least 2 trailers, no need to recalibrate anything just remember which trailer you have called trailer 1.
Tekonsha for me

Shane
AnswerID: 521784

Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:05

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:05
Thanks Shane. I didn't know about the Tekonsha having a function for multiple trailers. That is exactly what I need, then I wouldn't have to muck around calibrating it according to the load - a bit of a problem with horses, I wouldn't want to risk them falling!
Leanne
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Follow Up By: scandal - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:18

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:18
Just make sure the tekonsha unit you are looking at has the multi trailer function, not all of them have this function
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Follow Up By: scandal - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:33

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:33
I've just checked, mine is a P3, evilbay has heaps of em,
This is what I have,

Tekonsha P3
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 22:31

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 22:31
"the down side is it has to be mounted a certain way or it will make the gyro inoperable."

I have a Prodigy - the model before they went to P2 and P3.

It can be mounted at any angle from horizontal to 70 degrees tilt. It self-compensates. Mine is mounted at about 45 degrees.

Not sure about the P2 or P3 - I'd be surprised if they're different as it's too god a feature to be dropped.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: scandal - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 02:05

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 02:05
They can be mounted as you described, but only with face up or down, they are cannot be mounted with a tilt left to right
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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 06:23

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 06:23
Hi Scandal,
I have been looking on eBay, and the p3s on the Australian site don't mention the multi trailer function. I asked a seller if theirs has that function and he replied "no, that is the US model that is not approved for Australia".
Where did you get yours from?
Cheers, Leanne
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Follow Up By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 08:25

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 08:25
Hi again Leanne,
Do a search on eBay for a seller called autoelec (or very similar) they are in Bairnsdale Vic I have purchased my last two P3's from this supplier very competitive pricing and fast delivery.
I have no association with this seller other than being a happy customer!
Insanity doesnt run in my family.... it gallops!

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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 08:40

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 08:40
Thanks Tony.
I saw them on eBay and they are actually the seller I asked about the multi trailer function, and got the reply that it was not approved in Australia. I have since found another Australian seller on eBay that does advertise the multi trailer function.
Cheers, Leanne.
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Follow Up By: scandal - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 17:19

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 17:19
Hi Leanne, I also bought mine from from seller named in Tony's follow up,
I now am wondering if the unit I bought can do what I thought it could with regards to multi trailer set up :(, I know I read it in the instruction booklet, where ever that is now.
I know I read it some where and just assumed they all could, I hate that, happy travels.
Shane
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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 17:33

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 17:33
Hi Shane,
I only asked the seller when I noticed that he didn't advertise that feature, when another listing for the P3 did. I was surprised that there would be a difference in the same model. I hope yours does have that function. It is encouraging that the instruction booklet mentioned it. Let me know.
Cheers, Leanne.
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:33

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 18:33
Hi Leanne,

There has been plenty already said on both the Redarc and Prodigy P3 so I wont go over this any more.

There is one other thing to consider however.
Some vehicles don't have much room on the bottom of the dash and fixing there may introduce problems with knees banging into the underslung Prodigy unit.

For this reason alone, I chose the Redarc unit with the remote head.
The box can be fixed up under the dash against the fire wall and the control cable and remote head and indicator mounted on a spare (blank) switch plug that most vehicles would have. Mine is located to the left of the steering wheel in a handy location on the dash to view the indicator and/or adjust the control knob. I must say I have rarely needed to adjust the braking force once set.

Trailer brakes are to assist the vehicle brakes to affect good braking performance and I find the Redarc works very well.

Bill


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AnswerID: 521787

Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 19:00

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 19:00
Thanks Bill. Having a prodigy in my current car very close to my knee, I know mounting them is an issue. I think in a 200 series it can be mounted in the ash tray, so no knee knocking.
I really just want the most convenient controller for my purposes and that is frequently towing different loads.
Thanks for your input.
Leanne
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Reply By: fisho64 - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 02:32

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 02:32
Redarcs only advantage is the remote head mounting.
Other than that it is a crude unit which is not even a patch on the P3.
I tow a heavy boat and the only attention the P3 needs is to change the setting to B1 when the boat is off the trailer.
The inertia system works perfectly
AnswerID: 521811

Reply By: gbc - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 12:29

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 12:29
I've got both and they both suck in their own ways - trailer technology should be much better than it is.
The sensabrake on my last boat trailer was a bloody beauty. Apparently they have the odd reliability issue though.
AnswerID: 521825

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