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How Do Electric Brake Controllers Work?

Summer is just around the corner, and soon enough we will all be back on the road exploring our beautiful country. Before you go on your next adventure and attach your trailer, caravan, or boat to the rear of your car, it is worth understanding how your electric brakes (through the use of an electric brake controller) work, and why it is so essential for your and your family’s safety to have an expertly installed electric brake controller.

At Chamberlain’s Auto Electrics, we recognise how intimidating the idea of installing an electric braking system on your trailer or caravan can be if you’ve never been told how they work. It’s also something you want to get right because even one installation mistake can have disastrous consequences.

Why are electric brake controllers necessary? 

Your car’s brakes are designed to bring your vehicle to a stop. Unfortunately, when being constructed, they aren’t always designed with the consideration of towed vehicles in mind. Because of this, braking with a load could result in the load forcing your vehicle to turn or move when engaging the brakes if there is nothing telling the brakes to engage. For this reason, it is pivotal to consider the practical purpose of an electric brake controller. 

Australian road rules require all trailers that have a gross mass of over 750kg to have a braking system fitted to at least one axle of the trailer, whilst trailers that have a mass exceeding 2 tonnes are required to have an electric brake system installed on all wheels of the trailer. Because of these requirements, the installation of a brake controller communicating from the vehicle to the trailer is vital. 

How do electric brakes work?

Electric brakes work through a connection from your trailer/boat/caravan to your vehicle. When you brake in your car, the electric brake controller sends a signal to the towed vehicle to activate its brakes through electromagnets. 

The brakes’ engagement and operation will be controlled by the brake controller box. There are primarily two types of controller boxes available today:

  • Time-activated brake controllers work by applying maximum brake pressure over a set time period of time, which usually lasts two to three seconds.
  • Proportional brake controllers apply pressure to the trailer or caravan brakes in proportion to the deceleration of the vehicle.

In windy or wet weather, particularly in hilly terrain, proportional systems handle much easier. They are effectively following the driver’s lead since they use the vehicle’s deceleration to estimate how much pressure is appropriate, slowing down your vehicle and trailer in a safer manner. 

Here at Chamberlains Auto Electrics, we understand the importance of electric brake controllers and only install the highest quality Redarc Tow controllers. These electric brake controllers feature active calibration, allowing the system to monitor the direction of travel. 

Are you not sure what electric brake controller will work best for your vehicle, or your accompanying boat, trailer, or caravan? Talk to the experts at Chamberlain’s Auto Electrics.

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