The 8 Best Electronic Brake Controls

Updated September 13, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

8 Best Electronic Brake Controls
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We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you're planning on towing a trailer of a significant weight, it's highly recommended that you add one of these electronic brake controllers to your tow vehicle to ensure safe and controlled slowing and stopping. They are available in a wide range of models to suit most needs and are adjustable to give you a comfortable towing experience. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electronic brake control on Amazon.

8. Hopkins 47284 Reliance

Since the actuator in the Hopkins 47284 Reliance is timed rather than proportional, it responds with a more direct feel in the moving weight of the trailer, letting you know the system is always working properly. That feeling can be jarring for new towers, however.
  • no cutting or splicing
  • power percentage display
  • creeps out of sync over many miles
Brand Hopkins Towing Solution
Model 47284
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. CURT 51140 Triflex

Instead of relying on a single sensor to determine the velocity of your truck and its trailer, the CURT 51140 Triflex employs three sensors on three axes, allowing your system to adjust itself automatically when moving uphill or downhill.
  • generous mounting angles
  • affects 2 to 8 brakes
  • no power readout
Brand Curt Manufacturing
Model 51140
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT

By separating the display and proportional sensitivity elements from the controller mount within the cab, the Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT makes it easy for you to find a comfortable spot for your brake controls, even if you need to level the pendulum in a different location.
  • short proof up to 8 trailer brakes
  • no drill installation
  • mounts fit loosely together
Brand Hopkins Towing Solution
Model 47297
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ

With a simple dial control on the front panel, the Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ allows you to make fine adjustments to the current heading to your trailer's brakes as you drive along. Proportional braking is active in reverse, as well.
  • self-leveling body
  • plug-and-play port
  • poor viewing angle for the lcd
Brand Tekonsha
Model 90160
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy 2

The Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy 2 comes with the company's signature boost feature, which gives users the option to apply more braking power to heavier trailers at the initiation of the braking system, adding the secure feel of a timed response to a proportional controller.
  • continual diagnostic checks
  • 360-degree mounting
  • works up to four axles
Brand Tekonsha
Model 90885
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF

By mounting the trailer power module on the trailer chassis, the Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF effectively eliminates the need to level anything, as the proportional braking pendulum lives outside the cab. As a result, you can affix the controller itself however you want.
  • wireless communication
  • 7-way vehicle connection
  • pairing can be difficult
Brand Tekonsha
Model 90250
Weight 7.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV

The timer-actuated Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV is as unassuming in its appearance as it is in its price point, but it can electronically control brake systems up to four axles, and its installation winds up being the simplest thing about it.
  • cequent 2-plug adaptable
  • mounting hardware included
  • rubberized buttons
Brand Draw-Tite
Model 5504
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Tekonsha 90195 P3

With its bright, detailed LCD and large, responsive button controls, the Tekonsha 90195 P3 is one of the most interactive brake controllers on the market. Its menu system allows you to fine-tune your brake load for maximum efficiency.
  • displays in three languages
  • snap-in hanger clip
  • comprehensive warning system
Brand Tekonsha
Model 90195
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Towing With Control And Safety In Mind

If you own a large truck and tow heavy trailers on the road, then you're probably aware of the significant loads involved with such a task. Inertia will keep your vehicle and its trailer cargo in motion until an outside force acts upon them to slow them down. Anything in motion also has kinetic energy due to its overall mass and speed. The faster an object goes and the heavier it becomes, the greater its kinetic energy will be and the more power it will take to counteract its forward momentum. As such, a trailer's deceleration must be coordinated with that of its tow vehicle to prevent an accident or jackknife. This type of problem can be solved using an electronic brake control system to slow the trailer down once the tow vehicle's brakes have been applied.

Electronic brake controllers are aftermarket devices mounted to the dashboard of a truck's driver's side and equipped with large, easy-to-read LCD screens showing the amount of electrical current flowing to a trailer. A brake controller's main function is to engage a trailer's electric brakes and allow it to stop safely in conjunction with its tow vehicle. This means the controller acts as the signal source through which an electric current flows. That current flows through a series of high-capacity electromagnets within the trailer's braking system. The amount of pressure applied to the trailer's brake drums is directly proportional to the degree of current flow from the controller. The fundamental difference between the controller and a truck's braking system is in the controller's use of electromagnetic forces to slow the trailer down, as opposed to a tow vehicle's use of hydraulic pressure for its own deceleration.

Controllers fall into both proportional and time delayed categories. Proportional brake controllers make use of a pendulum acting as a motion detector to sense how fast the tow vehicle is stopping. As soon as the brakes are applied to the tow vehicle, the proportional controller sends an equivalent amount of electrical power to the trailer's brakes, which allows both the vehicle and trailer to decelerate at the same time.

By contrast, time-delayed controllers can be set by the driver before a road trip and send a pre-determined amount of power to a trailer's brakes. The amount of power distributed is dependent on the weight of the cargo being pulled. A slight delay will occur from the moment a tow vehicle's brakes are applied to the time when the trailer begins to slow down. However, an integrated sync switch gives the truck driver the ability to specify how long this delay should last. Because time delayed controllers don't depend on motion sensors to operate, they can be installed at virtually any angle.

Securing Your Trailer

The type of cargo you tow and the frequency at which you do so will dictate the most logical choice for a brake controller. For heavy loads that may include livestock or construction materials, a proportional, inertia-based system can be a great asset because it allows for smooth stops and minimal stress on your towing vehicle. Some of the best proportional controllers store settings for multiple drivers and trailer types. For example, if a truck is being shared among many workers, a single device can accommodate different job types or help compensate for erratic driving patterns.

One should also consider a unit equipped with boost controls for varying levels of brake adjustments as well as a solution with built-in diagnostic capabilities and warning signals to detect potential problems before they become a danger on the road. Some controllers even have customizable displays in different languages, which can be helpful with a diverse group of employees who need to make use of the same truck when traveling to and from job sites.

If you're on a tight budget, you don't want to waste additional time installing or calibrating the device, and you plan to tow small or relatively light loads, then a time-delayed controller may be your unit of choice. They are relatively easy to install and provide the driver with a high degree of control over the amount of power used to match the weight of a trailer.

The Journey Of The Electronic Brake Controller

The electronic brake controller has its humble beginnings as early as 1964 when a man named Jim Melluish started a metal tool and stamping business in Detroit, Michigan. In his search for a less expensive facility, Melluish relocated his company to the small town of Tekonsha where he saw the growing popularity for outdoor recreation of the sixties as an opportunity to manufacture parts for recreational vehicles. His RV parts business became known as Tekonsha Engineering, which is still one of the major leaders in intelligent trailer braking systems today. Tekonsha helped to revolutionize the towing industry in the mid-1960s by developing hydraulic controls allowing trailers to brake slightly before the brakes of a car.

By the 1970s, Tekonsha released its first trailer-mounted electronic brake control known as Weathertronic. The company's innovation continued well into the 1980s and 1990s with its release of the proportional brake control products Commander and Voyager, both of which made use of smaller and more effective sensor technology. In 1993, the company developed its AccuTrac line of inertia-sensitive controls designed to sense the stopping motion of a vehicle.

As an answer to the increasing complexity of tow vehicles in the 21st century, Tekonsha developed its Prodigy proportional brake control system in 2001, while simultaneously forming a partnership with the Ford Motor Company. By December 2006, Tekonsha added its most advanced P3 line of aftermarket proportional brake control technology still in use today. It includes trailer type presets, multi-language instructions, and comprehensive diagnostics to ensure superior safety on the road.



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Last updated on September 13, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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