Top 5 Best Electric Brake Controller

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Electric brake controllers are devices that detect the application of brake by the driver and then activate electric brakes in the trailer so that the vehicle can do a large part of its own braking rather than relying on the system of vehicle breaks. The device uses pin plugs of around 7-12 between the electric brake and the vehicle.

Usually, trailers weighing above 3000lbs need the electronic trailer brake controller and here is why:

The amount of trailer braking that is required varies with the weight the vehicle is carrying. Without the brake controllers, the wheels will tend to lock every time one applies brake even when the car is carrying no weight at all. The electronic trailer brake controller can be manipulated to apply right amount of power under different circumstances. A loaded van would obviously need more braking than an empty trailer.

Different states have different requirements regarding trailer braking but it is mostly for a person’s own safety: it acts like an additional insurance to safety. Most states require electric brakes on any trailer capable of carrying a weight of 3000lbs or more. Only when the trailer has electric brakes does it need a brake controller. Otherwise, it gets really scary trying to stop while carrying a heavy weight in the vehicle.

Light duty trailers do not need such trailer brakes but in case one is using a large enclosed truck or some other heavy vehicle which may carry a considerable weight electric brake controller is an absolute necessity for the driver’s own safety.

Like all other things in this world, there are a lot of varieties of electric trailer brake controller but it is important to know which is suitable for which vehicle. Because this is an issue concerning safety the user should be very cautious while getting an best electric brake controller for his heavy duty vehicle. The market is flooded with a wide variety of brake controllers with different features but not all are suitable. The following are the few things he might consider while buying one:

  • Price: There is a wide range of electric brake controllers available in the market in different prices. One should be a little careful and not get too carried away with cheap stuff. This is a matter of safety and little bit of investment won’t hurt too much. Of course some people prefer more sophisticated and fancy stuff and that demands a little more cost but the basic models are quite efficient at doing the fundamental job.
  • Functions: As technology has improved, brake controllers offer more functions and features apart from the regular ones. Some models come with monitoring options, LCD screens that provide continuous and specific diagnosis and important warning to the drivers. Displays are also customizable these days; they come in different languages like French, German etc apart from English and some even offer color choices.
  • Dimensions: Electric brake controllers come in roughly the same size and dimension varying between 3.5*5*3 inches. The price has got nothing to do with the size and usually depends on the brand name of the manufacturer and its functions. Usually the smaller and lighter it is the better it will be but don’t go for anything too light or you might have to compromise on the safety issue.
  • Manufacturer: Not all manufacturers produce all kinds of electric brake controllers; each one of them may offer a different set of features. The buyer should consult and research about the different products offered and then decide which manufacturer to consider buying his products from.
  • Warranty: They usually come with a lifetime warranty for product parts only.

From hundreds of product available in the market here are 5 of them which deserve special mention.

Сompare Top 5 Best Electric Brake Controller 2016-2017

1st place2nd place3rd place4th place5th place
Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake ControlTekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake ControlTekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 Electronic Brake ControlReese Towpower 74378 Pilot Brake ControllerHopkins 47284 Reliance Plug-in Simple Brake Control
4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
450 customer reviews
4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)
1047 customer reviews
4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)
270 customer reviews
4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)
136 customer reviews
4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)
69 customer reviews
Utilizes Plug-N-Play port for 2-plug adapters;
features will illuminate LED readout when issues occur;
Works proportionally in reverse;
Includes a Boost feature;
Snap-in dash mounting clip and hardware included;
easy-to-read LCD display;
multiple screen color options;
displays in English, French or Spanish;
Diagnostics show:
output current, battery, brake,
output voltage;
warning system alerts to No Trailer Brake situations;
Boost feature allows for different levels of customized braking;
select Electric over Hydraulic;
Electric trailer brake mode;
Integrated Plug-N-Play port;
2-plug adapters;
Snap-in mounting clip allows user to remove;
store the control when not in use;
Electric trailer brake up to 4 braking axles;
work with electric over hydraulic brake systems;
Digital display;
voltage delivery to trailer during braking;
produces stops that are in proportion;
vehicles deceleration rate;
Numerous mounting options;
including 360 degree vertical rotation;
store the control when not in use;
Smoke color lens;
Can be mounted upside down;
still have a readable display;
Protection against short circuit;
loss of ground;
Mounting bracket included for standard mounting;
Lifetime limited warranty;
Time Based;
Up to 4 Trailer Brakes;
Brake Failure Notification;
Trailer Continuity;
Short Protection;
12 volt negative ground system;
Buy From AmazonBuy From AmazonBuy From AmazonBuy From AmazonBuy From Amazon

Hopkins 47284 Reliance Digital Electronic Brake Control with Plug-In Connector – 5th place

It comes with a simple plug-in connection that allows for a quick installation and then it is ready to go. The removal is also hassle free and avoids any splicing or damage to the vehicle. The Hopkins 47284 is a time-based electric brake controller with full digital setting feature and shows the percentage of braking power in a LED display. Along with these, it has an intuitive manual slide that matches with the say the driver can reach for the control. The product can be mounted at any angle for use on any 12-volt negative ground system. It is also absolutely shock proof with a 4 brake capacity. Weighing 10.4 ounces, the Hopkins 47284 is quite innovative and makes your towing experience a happy one. The thing comes with a life time warranty and meets all the demands of the modern day trucks.

Protected With a 4 Brake Capacity
Can be Mounted at Any Angle
The LCD Display is Small

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Reese Towpower 74378 Pilot Brake Controller – 4th place

reese trailer brake controllers

Reese Towpower 74378 Pilot Brake Controller

This time-delay controller has smoke colored lenses that are ideal for direct light application. It can be mounted upside down and provides a readable display. It is fully protected against short-circuit and other electrical issues and offers an absolutely safe experience. The Reese Towpower 74378 contains mounting bracket that would help in standard mounting. Weighing 13.6 ounces, this Reese towing product comes with a lifetime guarantee but for limited issues. This brake controller has flexible mounting options with a microprocessor allowing the user the ability to read the display even when the controller is mounted in an awkward angle. The display requires special mention as it is large and easy to read with dual display shows, properly wired control units. The brakes have voltage output and connection to the trailer. This electric brake controller comes at a quite cheap price compared to the quality of service it provides.

Has a Mounting Bracket for Easy Installation
Lifetime Limited Warranty
Protected Against Ground Loss
Requires a Separate Adapter

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Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 Electronic Brake Control – 3rd place

As the name suggests, this one is really a prodigy with an electric trailer brake control for up to 4 braking axles, designed to work with electric over hydraulic braking units. The display shows voltage deliver to trailer during braking and produces breaks that are in sync with the vehicle’s deceleration rate. It has a 360-degree vertical rotation with disconnect feature that allows the user to remove and store the control when not in usage. The product offers different powers – the boost feature offers the users to apply more initial trailer braking momentum when towing heavier trailers. The Tekonsha 90885 keeps doing a continual diagnostic check for different issues of the vehicle like connection, shorted magnet conditions, reverse battery protection for both the vehicle and the breakaway. Weighing only 8 ounces, this is perhaps one of the lightest products in this category but delivers its functions efficiently.

Smart Controller
Good Mounting Options
Good Diagnostic Features

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Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control – 2nd place

This is a high-end product with a distinct easy-to-read LCD display and multiple screen color options and European languages. The diagnostics show battery, brake and output voltage along with output current and warning system alerts to ‘no trailer brake situations’. It comes with a varied set of brakes – the boost feature offers to the customers, different levels of customized braking. It also provides two options: the electric over hydraulic or the electric trailer mode. The integrated plug-and-play port 2-plug adapters and snap-in mounting clips help users to remove and store the electric brake controller when it is not in use. Weighing 1.4 pounds, this brake controller has 5 storable setting options for multiple driver’s facilities and pulling different trailers up to 4 axles. It has a manual override lever on the bottom of the unit. By pulling the lever the trailer braking is increased the more it is pulled.

Integrated Plug-N-Play Port
Self Diagnostic Features
Easy to Use
Pricey but Worth It

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Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control – 1st place

This is an excellent inertia based electronic brake with a plug-and-play port for 2-plug adapters. The self-diagnostic features are illuminated LED read-out lights when a problem occurs. The product works as efficiently and proportionally in reverse. It obviously comes with boost features that will help the users to take the initial momentum up a few notches for heavier trailers. A snap-in dash mounting clip and hardware are included in the set. The Tekonsha 90160 is a proportional electric trailer brake controller with a primusIQ that ensures self-leveling so that it does not require any level adjustment. The product works wonderfully well in reverse for backing into tough spots and it can be quickly stashed away when not in use. The digital read-out is an example of secure electric connection and the amount of voltage delivery to trailer brakes and other diagnostic features are also shown in the LED display.

Easy to install and set it up
Has an Auto-Diagnostic Feature
Works in Equal Proportion on Reverse
Mostly Good for Heavy Cars and Trailers

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The clear winner among all these is obviously the Tekonsha 90160. This American vehicle equipment manufacturing company based in Plymouth, MI and is one of the best in this business. Available at around 70$ it provides cutting-edge features for its price: it has accelerometer sensing, with electric brake controller for up to 3 axles and can be mounted at any angle from 0 to 70 degrees.  The set-up is quite simple and with calibrating the braking pressure as per instruction, the product is good to go. These kinds of inertia based models are much better than the cheap time-based models. This product features the kind of usefulness that 90% of the customers need at a price that almost anyone can afford.

How to Set Power Output on Tekonsha 90160

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