Do I Need an Electric Brake Controller?

Do I Need an Electric Brake Controller?

Campers who have recently purchased a caravan often have difficulty navigating the large sea of available caravan parts and accessories. They have trouble deciphering which products are worthwhile, including brand names and pricing which can also throw a spanner in the works.

Electric brake controllers are an aftermarket product whose necessity is often questioned and, although they are not necessary for every camper, often their use is required by law. Do I need an electric brake controller? Why are they used? How are they installed? The following few paragraphs will be going over the answers to all these questions and more.


Do I Need an Electric Brake Controller?

In December of 1998, national towing regulations were implemented across Australia following a unanimous decision by the State Ministers of Transport.

These new regulations dictated that any trailer with a Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) exceeding 2000kg would need to be fitted with an electric brake control system

These are the requirements depending on the specific weight of your caravan:

GTM under 750kg:       

No additional brakes required.


751< GTM < 2,000kg:

Braking system on wheels of at least one axles; over-ride brakes allowed, although electric is recommended on all trailers over 1,000kg.


GTM > 2,000 kg:  

Need a “breakaway” system installed on all wheels; system must be powered by a full-charged battery at ALL times (can be either standalone or auxiliary).



Why Do I Need An Electric Brake Controller?

Well, the shortest answer to this question is “for safety”. Imagine a group of kid's rollerblading in a line, each holding onto the hips of the one ahead of them. The line goes smoothly along as long as all of the kids remain at a steady speed.  If one of these children suddenly decides to slow down, the following will soon end up crashing into his back.

Towing a caravan or trailer works the same way. All the added weight of a trailer can make slowing down or stopping a tow vehicle highly dangerous. The trailer’s momentum can cause it to keep going, ultimately crashing into the back of the vehicle, innocent by standers or even roadside barriers.

An electric brake controller eliminates the chances of a trailer crashing into a tow vehicle by activating the trailer’s brakes whenever the driver hits the vehicle brakes. The brake controller essentially detects how much power is required by a caravan or trailer’s brakes to safely slow down and stop.


How To Install An Electric Brake Controllers

Traditional electric brake controllers are installed with an accompanied wiring harness. Once you’ve selected an easily-accessible area to mount the system (most campers place it beneath the dashboard), all that’s needed is to connect its wires to the vehicle’s brake wiring.

Most electric brake controllers come with the following 4-wires:

  1. Trailer Feed (connects the controller to the trailer connector)

  2. Ground (connects the controller to a negative, grounded source)

  3. Brake Switch (the wire that transfers power)

  4. Battery Power (powers the brake controller)


It is highly advised to have your brake controller installed by a specialist, keeping in mind its your own, your passengers and other commuters on the road safety your putting at risk.

There is a new wireless controlled easy to install electric brake controlled on the market called Elecbrakes. This model eliminates the need to run wiring from the dash of your vehicle to your trailer. It is sold with a plug and play accessory option to connect any combination of vehicle and trailer plugs and sockets.


Check out our brake controller buyer's guide here for help choosing the best model to suit your needs!

If you require further information please feel free to contact one of our friendly staff on 1800 787 278 or chat to us on our live chat.

DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

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