Are you looking for the best caravan brake controller for your vehicle? A brake controller is essential to minimise the risk of an accident while towing your caravan.
How Does a Caravan Brake Controller Work?
Mounted to your tow vehicle, usually on your dash, the brake controller is used to control the electric brakes on the caravan to mimic the action of your tow vehicle brakes.
Using power from the car battery, the controller senses when you hit the brakes in the tow vehicle and sends an electric current to the electric brakes in the caravan. This activates the brakes and slows down the caravan.
Why Do You Need A Brake Controller?
First and foremost, a brake system is required by Australian Law under the Department of Infrastructure Transport and Vehicles on any trailer between 750kg and 2000kg GTM on at least one axle.
If your trailer exceeds 2000kg GTM you are required to have an electric brake controller on all axles. So if you have dual axles (4 wheels) you will be required to have both of them fitted with electric brakes.
As most of the caravans being sold in Australia now are getting bigger and heavier it is most important to check your weight and ensure you are towing safely on the road.
Imagine this scenario:
You’re cruising along the freeway at 110km/hr and the road starts going downhill. Without a brake controller, you can press the brakes to slow down your car, but your caravan won’t slow down. The weight of your caravan will push your car and could cause you to lose control and swerve into other lanes or even oncoming traffic.
This potentially fatal situation could be avoided with a caravan brake controller. It helps you keep control of both vehicles so you can slow down safely.
There are also Laws in Australia around the use of a Brake Away System. These devices are connected when you hitch up. Should at any time your vehicle become disconnected from what you are towing your trailer or caravan will have the electric brakes applied and stay applied for up to 15 mins. These legislations differ from state to state so it is always important to check your state laws to ensure you are compliant.
Types Of Caravan Brake Controllers:
Time Delay Brake Controllers:
The time delay brake controller supplies a fixed voltage to the trailer's brakes. The user is required to adjust the braking response from a dial mounted on the dash. Once the driver sets the dial, then each time they brake, a fixed amount of braking will be applied at a trailer level. The driver will need to adjust for varying road conditions. Time delay controllers are a rugged and robust option. The advantage is they can be mounted at any angle, but they do not provide as efficient braking experience as a proportional model.
Proportional Brake Controllers:
A proportional brake controller is a motion sensing controller. Through the in-built microprocesses, the controller senses how quickly the vehicle is stopping and applies the proportional voltage to the trailer's brakes. The goal is to have the trailer brake at the same rate as the vehicle. This is the safest way to slow down when towing a heavy mass. The proportional brake controller is the popular choice amongst caravan customers as it provides the smoothest braking action for the driver.
Our two most popular proportional brake controllers are the Bluetooth controlled Elecbrakes Controller and the traditional Hayman reese Compact IQ with wiring harness included.
Wireless Brake Controllers:
Wireless brake controllers, while still classed as proportional controllers, are worth mentioning in their own right as they are an innovative and unique design. We recommend the Elecbrakes Brake Controller. Wireless brake controllers eliminate the need for a wiring harness and are controlled via Bluetooth, making them the most convenient option for the mass market.
What’s On The Market?
When it comes to a caravan brake controller, don’t compromise on quality. Choosing a high-quality, reliable brake controller can save your life!
The latest electric brake controller to hit the market is the wireless control, easy to install Elecbrakes Brake Controller. This brake controller eliminates the need to run wiring from he dash of your vehicle to your trailer. The brake controller connects to the trailers electrical circuit via a user specified adapter. Installation is simply four screws to mount the unit and plug and play the adapter.
The Elecbrakes is a proportional brake controller; when the driver applies brake pedal pressure this will then activate the electric trailer brakes proportionally. The mobile smartphone app is used in place of a traditional dash mounted control unit.
There are five braking programs that can be set using the app and the manual override functionality is also available. The bluetooth connection between your mobile phone and the control unit are not dependent on phone coverage or data to operate.
An optional remote is also available which has the same functonality as the smart phone app.
There are two installation options: plug & play or hardwired.
Plug & Play Option:
From the accessories list you can choose from 10 plug and play adapters depending on the socket configuration of your tow vehicle and your trailer plug.
The cheapest way to purchase the Elecbrakes controller is by adding the hardwired leader with plug from the accessories list. This is a fraction of the price of the plug and play option, but will require you to hardwire to your trailer braking circuit. See wiring diagram here.
2. Hayman Reese:
This brand has two options we really like: Compact IQ and Guardian.
The Compact IQ Remote Mount is a time activated, dash-mounted brake controller suitable for both heavy duty and light load towing. It is a proportional system that only needs two dials mounted on the dash, while the main control unit can be installed under or behind your dash out of sight. It also features a Boost feature so you can apply more or less braking power when needed.
We have bundled up the Compact IQ Remote Mount with a wiring harness kit so you can purchase everything you need to install at a great price!
The Guardian is a more basic option for 4WD, light caravan and camper applications. It comes with a large easy to read display and push-button controls.
If there’s one reason to buy the WiTi Brake Controller, it’s the ground-breaking industry first – Hill Descent Assist. The device measures the angle of descent and applies the caravan brakes relative to the gradient of the hill and to the rate of deceleration. So, the caravan or trailer braking is increased when travelling downhill giving you a safer and more controlled descent.
A more afforadable option we recommend is the Baintech Tow Mate. We love this model because it operates with a pre-set braking force using microprocessor technology. It’s super rugged and compact, and can be easily installed with the connection of four wires. It also comes with a remote control to make adjusting and monitoring the brakes even easier. The Tow-Mate also features an override function for independent braking of the trailer from the vehicle brakes.
The Baintech Tow Mate also comes with the option of a remote trailer brake control.
Extra Accessories For Caravan Brake Controllers:
It’s worth noting that some brake controllers do not come with all the installation components, so be sure to check what comes included with your purchase.
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.