Electric brake controllers - do I need one

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 13:43
ThreadID: 31727 Views:8732 Replies:8 FollowUps:0
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I have read a stack of posts here about electric brakes and controllers. I am getting electric brakes on my camper trailer.

My question is, is it mandatory to have an in cabin electric brake controller with electric brakes ? Will they work without the in cabin controller ?

Thanks for any information

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 13:48

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 13:48
You will need an electric brake controller.
The most popular is the Tekonsha Prodigy unit.

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AnswerID: 160437

Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 13:53

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 13:53
Cammo, you do need a controller. But it does not have to an in cabin model. I think the Hayman Reese is one that is not in the cab and there are others.

Everyone has a view on this, but I prefer the in cab ones. I have the Tekonsha Prodigy which can be adjusted for trailer braking power, tells you if it is working and how much braking power is being applied to the trailer. It has a manual over ride so you can apply trailer brakes without braking the vehicle. You might say you don't need all this, but it is handy and costs little more.

My view any way.
AnswerID: 160438

Reply By: V8troopie - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 15:49

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 15:49
Cammo, while the commercial controllers have all the bells and whistles and therefore cost an arm and a leg, that need not be so.
My boat trailer ( 2500kg all up) has electric brakes and they have been operated by a simple home made controller since day one.
Its consists just of a manually controlled power transistor which sets the current the brakes will get by the setting of a knob on the dash board. Activation is via the brake light switch which ensures the trailer brakes ALWAYS come on fractionally before the car brakes.
I set the knob for low brake power in stop/ start city traffic and for maximum at highway speeds or anywhere in between as the road conditions require.
I do have a dash mounted Amp meter that shows exactly how much braking effort is sent to the brakes and this also would show up instantly any malfunction (no current - no trailer brakes).

If one is prepared to adjust a knob manually from time to time then inertia control and other bells and whistles are not really required for the brakes to work efficiently.

Anybody planning to make their own brake controller should keep in mind that the magnets in electric brakes are current (Amps) driven devices and NOT voltage driven. This is important from controlling circuit, wire size and connector size point of view.
Of course, making your own controller makes you also responsible if it fails - mine will get removed if I ever sell the car.

AnswerID: 160451

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 17:09

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 17:09
I am getting electric brakes fitted to my CT as well. (750kg max)
But getting the controller mounted on the trailer.
One where I just preset the amount of braking I want the trailer to do.

Maybe not as good as the in cabin for sensitivity and increasing breaking as the car braking increases, but it works for me on a canoe trailer where we tow about 1 tonne.

Also, less hassle with the brakes coming on on steep descents. Saves me having to remember to turn them back before descending. Also means I can tow it with any of the 3 cars in the family, and the brakes will still work :-).
AnswerID: 160467

Reply By: Stuart - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 18:40

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 18:40
Hi Cammo, your C/T will be rated at 750kg so if your camper goes over this weight when you are loaded to go away you will be illegal. It may not ever be a problem but if you get stopped by a mobile weighing unit (NSW) you may have a problem and if you happen to be unfortunate enough to have a prang, be it your fault or not, you WILL have problems with insurance companies.
I fitted electric brakes to our camper for piece of mind. When we travel it weighs between 850- 1000kg's and I tow it with a Cruiser. What a difference as now the car only has to stop it's self and I don't feel the trailer at all when braking. Please don't cut corners and fit an in cabin controller ( I use the Prodigy) as the ability to fine tune the camper to the tow vehicle is really useful. You can really feel the difference between 800 & 900 kg's on the brakes and being able to fine tune on the move is a real bonus. Also if you happen to get trailer sway you can apply the tailer brakes manually while the car accellerates and the trailer will straighten almost insantly. It really is worth the extra money. Cheers.
AnswerID: 160481

Reply By: Darian (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 19:18

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 19:18
Indeed re the above on investing in safety - the el brakes will require some ongoing maintenance as they wear on the various trips - that can't be avoided BUT the investment in a good dash mounted controller is a one -off. I have a Tekonsha Prodigy - has been very good to date - long warranty too - as some others have mentioned, there is a manual overide (handy), works in reverse too (not all do), the readout is diagnostic re the circuits - easy to control degree of braking plus boost - all at your fingertips. I had mine installed by a pro - peace of mind is worth something.
AnswerID: 160488

Reply By: Member - Charlie M (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 19:32

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 19:32
The magnet might active on the drum in reverse BUT there in NO WAY the shoes will stop the brake drum in reverse. (If you think it will, stop on a boat ramp just above water line, activate manual override and see if you end up in the drink)
AnswerID: 160491

Reply By: Member - Royce- Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 22:16

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 22:16
Just drive with out the controller... but chances are you wont stop unless you are indicating a right turn. Then it's stop/go/stop/go/stop/gos/top/go/stop/go/stop/go
AnswerID: 160545

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