How to choose a brake controller

For some very light occasional towing, you might manage perfectly well without a brake controller. Once you get up above about 500 kg, however, the braking from your tow vehicle alone may not be enough to stop quickly or safely, so you will want to install a brake controller.

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There are two main types of aftermarket brake controllers: proportional brake controllers and time-delay controllers. Choosing between them isn’t always easy. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you make the right decision.

Time-delayed brake controllers

The more basic, less expensive, and easier to install variety of brake controller is the time-delayed brake controller. Time-delay controllers have the towed vehicle apply a fixed proportion of its braking capacity with a slight delay, or sync, to make the braking application feel smooth.

The delay, or sync, and the level of braking are set by the driver based on the size and mass of what they are towing.

Proportional brake controllers

Proportional brake controllers are the more expensive and more difficult to install of the two types, but they provide a smoother experience once they are installed.

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Instead of applying a pre-set level of braking like a time-delayed controller, a proportional controller applies the same proportion of braking applied in the towing vehicle to the towed vehicle, providing a much greater level of control and much smoother braking experience.

Which type to choose

Here is a breakdown of the general differences to help you make your decision before buying a controller from a electrical control components manufacturers such as

First, you must consider the price. Proportional controllers are the more expensive of the options, but they will also end up with less brake wear on each vehicle because of the increased level of control. Due to the level of control, proportional controllers are also viewed as being the safer option as they allow for lighter or emergency braking.

Time-delayed controllers are much easier to install and configure, and they can be installed in almost any position. Proportional controllers need to be installed much closer to level, which can be awkward.

The one you choose is ultimately up to you. For casual or seasonal use, time-delay controllers will be perfectly adequate, but for heavier use, investing in a proportional controller might be preferable.

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