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Best Brake Controller Options

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Best Brake Controller Options


Today we're going to be taking a look at the different types of brake controllers available and help you to determine which one might best suit your needs. Now, brake controllers are important because this is what sends power beck to the brakes on our trailer, and helps us to stop safely and also stay in compliance with state laws. So, without a brake controller, even a controller with brakes is gonna have no power. The first decision we're going to make in our brake controller selection is gonna be whether we want to go with something that's time delayed, like the Curt Venturer here, or something that is proportional, which would be like our Prodigy P3, or Prodigy RF, or our Hopkins Insight. Now, the main difference between our time delayed type controller and our proportional type controller is how they activate the brakes on our trailer. A time delayed system is gonna have a certain amount of time in which this brake controller is gonna go from zero power output up to whatever your maximum power output is. That's the way it is every time you brake. Now, with our proportional system, these have internal sensors. These can sense the negative acceleration or the deceleration of our vehicle and apply the appropriate braking output out to our trailer. This is gonna give us a more fine-tuned braking experience, so if we're slowly coming up to a stop we'll have light braking power.

If we need that more emergency braking or we really slam on the brakes, we're gonna get the additional braking power. It's going to get to the maximum much more quickly. Now whether you choose the time delayed or the proportional, they're both gonna allow some fine tuning of the braking power and the braking intensity, your quickness. The first adjustment that we're gonna have on brake controllers is gonna be the gain, and that's essentially gonna be how much braking power is gonna go back to our brakes. They're easily adjustable up and down. Now, the second adjustments that we see with brake controllers are gonna be kind of the fine-tuned settings. Now, in some of our time delayed systems they're gonna have what's called a sync setting. That sync setting is gonna determine how long it takes to get from zero braking power to the maximum that we have set. Now, the proportional systems are gonna have something very similar--it's not exact, but similar.

What they call is typically a boost mode. Now, the boost mode is gonna boost the initial braking. These don't have a certain amount of time that they're gonna take to get to maximum power. That's not how they work; they use the accelerometer or the sensor. What does happen, however though is if we go from, let's say, boost to zero up to boost one, when our brake controller initially comes on, it's gonna come on at about 13%.

We go to boost two, it's gonna come on around 25%. So we're getting a little bit of boost at the beginning to raise that braking power up just slightly so as our trailers get heavier we can increase our boost or we can increase our sync to help get more braking power more quickly. Now, we're also gonna have a slight variation in the mounting positions that we can use from controller to controller. The time delayed brake controller really can be mounted in any position, in any orientation: upside-down, sideways. But it's a very good idea to always keep your manual operation lever handy, so if you have a splay situation, you can get that under control. Our proportional brake controllers will have a slight variance on which way we can mount them--up and down in the front. Some are 90 degrees, some will go like the P3 here.

This you can mount 360 degrees, but it needs to be mounted in direction with the line of travel of the vehicle. That's how our sensors are gonna work--they need to be traveling the direction the vehicle is traveling, and then when our deceleration occurs, they sense that. Now, another benefit to the proportional brake controller is that during prolonged stops, this is actually going to reduce the amount of power being sent to our brakes, so we reduce overheating. With the time delayed style, as long as you sit stopped it's gonna be delivering maximum power to your braking magnets. They both have built-in safeguards, however, that will protect against any kind of shorts, and also it will let you know if your trailer becomes disconnected. Now let's talk about where each brake controller's gonna be best suited. With the time delayed systems, I think these are gonna be best suited for the really custom installations where you can turn them on its side, or upside-down, but keep in mind you really need to be able to get to this manual override lever. These are also gonna work out for the most cost-effective way of just meeting minimum state requirements. Now the proportional type controller would definitely be the controller that I chose to go on my vehicle of any type. This gives us a more customized braking feel for each different braking situation. It senses what kind of power we need and delivers it. We're not relying on time delayed system to slowly get us up to the braking power we need, especially in those emergencies. Now, this one's gonna be very well suited for truck applications. This is gonna be really good for the larger SUVs. This is gonna be mounted on the dashboard, so you have to make sure you've got enough space and you're got enough room so you're not gonna be bumping into it when you're- with your knees, when you get in and out. Now, when we get into our smaller SUVs, when we get into the limited dashboard areas for mounting, that's where our alternative-style Hopkins Insight's gonna work out really well. This, which acts as the brake controller itself, is gonna be mounted on the kick panel or on the center console. It has to be mounted in direction with the line of travel, but that can be down and out of the way. We then plug our flex display into it. This is gonna give us a reading and percentage of braking power. That can be easier to understand for some folks. And we've got our flex control, which just like the other controller, it allows us for our gain adjustment. Has a manual override lever, and has a boost control. Now, this is gonna allow us to just mount this and this, where it can be visible. The wiring in our controller can be hidden down behind the dash. Now, we can talk about our Prodigy RF and where it's gonna be applicable. Now, this is gonna be the perfect solution for a company that has maybe three or four trailers but hauls with 50 different trucks. All the truck's gonna have to have is a working 7-way connection on it. It doesn't have to have brake controller signal; it just needs 12-volt power, left turn and brake, and right turn and brake. It's all we need to do, and then this just gets plugged into the dash. So, this is gonna stay with the trailer. Our trailer plug goes in right here, and this is gonna get plugged into the truck. This'll be mounted on the tongue. Plug this into the dash and this is gonna give you your manual override button, right here. It's gonna give you full gain adjustment here on the side, just like we've got with our others, and the boost control. It's gonna be right here on top, so all the same functions that we had with both of our other proportional brake controllers. This is also gonna be ideal for the situations in which we have complex, multiplex wiring inside of our vehicles. Some vehicles just don't provide a usable brake light signal on the cold side of the brake light switch, which is gonna be required for both the other proportionals and also for the time delayed system. And this is also gonna be for the person that doesn't really want to touch any of the wiring in his vehicle. If you don't want to tap into the cold side of the brake light switch, if you're not comfortable in doing that you're gonna be heading down the road with proper braking force. You're gonna meet all of your state requirements, and this is gonna work exactly like a standard brake controller would. Now let's do a quick summary. When it comes to smart braking, our brake controller's ability to sense what the vehicle's doing and match it, that is gonna be a win for the proportional style controllers. Now, the ease of installation or there not being any need to tap into our vehicle's wiring--that's gonna go to the Prodigy RF. Now, when it comes to having versatile mounting options, your time delayed system or the proportional Insight are gonna be better. When it comes to compact design or the system not taking up a whole lot of room on your dashboard, the Insight is going to be the winner there. However, some of the time delayed systems are pretty compact. That's gonna complete our look at the different types of brake controllers available. We hope you find this helpful in selecting which one's gonna be the best for your application.


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