10 Best Trailer Brake Controllers: Proportional & Time-Delayed

Best Trailer Brake Controller

If you own a trailer then you probably know how difficult it is to maneuver on the road, especially when applying the brakes.

This is because your vehicle brakes need to press harder because of the additional weight of the trailer added to that of the towing vehicle. Therefore, it can be dangerous especially if your trailer exceeds 1000 lbs of weight.

In order to solve this problem, you can install a trailer brake controller. In short, the trailer brake controller is a small piece of electronics that connects to your brake paddle switch and trailer connector.

What this device will do is offer a smoother braking response to your trailer on any stop you make by automatically controlling the trailer brakes.

It has a sensing technology inside that calculates in real time the towing vehicles speed and rate of deceleration. It then automatically applies the brake for you for a smoother braking experience.

In order to help you get a quality model, we have handpicked and reviewed some of the best trailer brake controllers on the market. Let’s see which model is right for you!

You may also like to read other product reviews such as brake rotor, brake pad, brake fluid, brade bleeder kit

10 Best Trailer Brake Controllers - Reviews

Image

Product Name

Type

Number of Axles

Display

Rating

Current Price

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Trailer Brake Controller

1. Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Trailer Brake Controller

Proportional

1 - 4

LCD

4.8

Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Trailer Brake Controller

2. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Trailer Brake Controller

Proportional

1 - 3

LED

4.7

Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 Electronic Brake Control

3. Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 Electronic Brake Controller

Proportional

1 - 4

LCD

4.9

Curt 51140 TriFlex Brake Control

4. Curt 51140 TriFlex Brake Controller

Time-delayed

1 - 4

Digital

4.4

Hopkins 47297 Insight Brake Control

5. Hopkins 47297 Insight Brake Controller

Proportional

1 - 4

Digital

4.4

Curt 51110 Venturer Brake Control

6. Curt 51110 Venturer Brake Controller

Time-delayed

1 - 3

LED

4.2

Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control

7. Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Controller

Time-delayed

1 - 4

LED

4.7

Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop Electronic Brake Control

8. Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop Electronic Brake Controller

Proportional

1 - 3

LED

4.6

Reese Towpower 74642 Brake Control

9. Reese Towpower 74642 Brake Controller

Time-delayed

1 - 2

Indicator light

4.4

Hopkins 47284 Reliance Digital Trailer Brake Control

10. Hopkins 47284 Reliance Digital Trailer Brake Controller

Time-delayed

1 - 4

LED

4.2

Editor's Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Trailer Brake Controller
  • Type: Proportional
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 4
  • Display: LCD

The Tekonsha 90195 is a popular proportional trailer brake controller that is easy to install and will allow you to control the brakes of to 8 wheels in your trailer as this is a 4 axle controller.

Moreover, this model has a LED display that will show you a wide range of information, from diagnostics of your brakes to the voltage that your battery is running at. You can quickly and easily change between those different diagnostics with the push of a button as it has an up and down arrow on the dashboard controller.

The only caveat we have with this model is that it is a little bit on the expensive side. However, it has an exceptional build construction that is very durable and long-lasting. Moreover, its small and compact form factor means that you will be able to install it anywhere on your dashboard without it getting in the way.

All in all, if you need a quality trailer brake controller that displays a wide range of information and very easy to install, then this model from Tekonsha is definitely one of the best trailer brake controllers on the market. Despite its fairly expensive pricing.

Pros:

  • The LED display shows a lot of information
  • Able to control up to 4 axle or 8 wheels
  • Plug and play port. Very easy to install to your vehicle and trailer

Cons:

  • The price. It is one of the most expensive trailer brake controllers out there

Editor's Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Trailer Brake Controller
  • Type: Proportional
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 3
  • Display: LED

When compared to the Tekonsha model reviewed above, the Tekonsha 90160 Primus is a little bit more modest in terms of features. This model is able to control only 3 axes and has a smaller LED display.

However, it still has the same quality build construction as well as a small and compact form factor which will allow you to install it on your vehicle dashboard without it consuming a lot of space. Moreover, you can make multiple brake adjustments with this unit as it has a knob that allows you to do so.

Installation is plug-and-play as it has a 2 plug adapter ports at the back and it comes with all wires for an easy installation process. Out of the box, it comes with all mounting clips and hardware necessary for installation.

Best of all, this proportional trailer brake controller has a self-diagnostic feature which will automatically verify if the brakes are working properly whenever you switch the device on.

Furthermore, it has a boost feature which with the push of a button will increase the amount of force applied on the brake pads for a more fierce braking power.

Pros:

  • Excellent build construction. Durable and long-lasting
  • Small and compact form factor. Does not take a lot of space on the dashboard
  • Plug and play port at the back for easy installation
  • Boost feature can be engaged with the push of a button

Cons:

  • The LED is small and displays less information

Editor's Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy P2 Electronic Brake Control
  • Type: Proportional
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 4
  • Display: LCD

The Tekonsha 90885 Prodigy is an upgraded version that is able to control 4 braking axles with ease. This unit has a large LCD display that will display a wide range of diagnostics of your vehicle, from the voltage to the deceleration rate.

In addition, there is a knob on this controller that will allow you to switch between different pre-calibrated settings set by the manufacturer. One of the best things about this controller is that it is able to work with both an electric as well as a hydraulic brake system in your trailer. It is quite versatile.

When it comes to installation, it also has multiple mounting points at the bottom that will allow you to quickly and easily install it on your dashboard with ease. If you want more performance out of this trailer brake controller, it has a boost feature that will apply more force to your brakes with the push of a button.

But one of the best things about this trailer brake controller is definitely its ability to continuously monitor the braking pads of your trailer and will immediately report any problems detected. This is an excellent security feature.

Pros:

  • Constantly monitors the braking pads for faults
  • Able to control up to 4 axles
  • Boost feature will apply more force to the braking pads. Can be activated with the push of a button

Cons:

  • The price. It is expensive when compared to other controllers

Editor's Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Curt 51140 TriFlex Brake Control
  • Type: Time-delayed
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 4
  • Display: Digital

The Curt 51140 is a simple and yet versatile trailer brake controller that is extremely easy to install with its plug-and-play port. If you are an absolute beginner, this model comes with a detailed manual that will show you exactly how to install it.

Moreover, this unit is able to control up to 4 axles and has a built-in accelerometer that will continually calculate the speed that your trailer is moving and make proportional adjustments to the braking system.

The digital display is also a nice addition as it is easy to read both during the day as well as at night.

In order to switch between the different settings of this device, you have a handy knob located at the top. Best of all, it comes with multiple mounting clips that will allow you to quickly and easily install it on your dashboard.

All in all, this top-rated trailer brake controller is easy to use, easy to install as well as has a lot of features that will make the braking system of your trailer much safer and smoother.

Pros:

  • The digital display is easy to read both during the day as well as at night
  • A built-in accelerometer will continually make proportional adjustments
  • Large knob at the top for making adjustments to the braking system

Cons:

  • The price could have been more cost-effective since this is a time-delayed controller

Editor's Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Hopkins 47297 Insight Brake Control
  • Type: Proportional
  • Number of Axles: 1- 4
  • Display: Digital

The Hopkins 47297 is a mini trailer brake controller that is extremely easy to install and use. This device does is mimic proportionally your towing vehicle’s brakes and automatically apply it to your trailer brakes.

Since it is able to control for axles, it will have no problem controlling up to 8 trailer brakes at once. One of the best things about this model is that it comes with 7 pre-calibrated settings that you can apply on the fly with the push of a button.

If you do not have a lot of space on the dashboard but needs a quality model, then this Hopkins unit is definitely one of the best electric trailer brake controllers on the market because of its small size and ease-of-use.

Pros:

  • Able to control up to 8 trailer breaks at once
  • Comes with 7 pre-calibrated settings
  • Very easy to use and install by even absolute beginners

Cons:

  • The digital dashboard display is small

Editor's Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Curt 51110 Venturer Brake Control
  • Type: Time-delayed
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 3
  • Display: LED

The Curt 51110 adult a unique design with its LED display. This model uses 5 green lines that incrementally increases the more you press on the brake. This will give you a visual indication of the amount of power applied to the trailer brakes.

Moreover, this model can control up to 6 trailer brakes as it is a 3 axle unit. Out of the box, you get all accessories that will allow you to quickly and easily install this trailer brake controller. It also has a mounting clip that is fully adjustable and you can control its position on your dashboard.

Moreover, the plug-and-play port will allow you to easily connect this trailer controller to your vehicle. But one of the best things that we like about this model is definitely its affordable price. Indeed, when compared to other trailer brake controllers with almost similar features, this unit is extremely cost-effective.

Pros:

  • Affordable. Value for money
  • The LED display shows you the amount of force applied to the brakes
  • Easy to install. Also comes with an adjustable mounting clip for your dashboard

Cons:

  • Time delayed. Not as sophisticated when compared to a proportional controller

Editor's Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control
  • Type: Time-delayed
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 4
  • Display: LED

The Draw-Tite 5504 is a time-delayed trailer brake controller that has a large LED as well as a small and compact form factor.

This model is very easy to install with its plug-and-play port at the back and is able to control up to 4 axles. Therefore, you will have no problem controlling 8 trailer brakes with this unit.

Moreover, there are pre-calibrated settings in this trailer brake controller so that you can apply different types of force on your trailer brake pads.

Since this is a time-delayed model, it is more cost-effective and cheaper than a proportional trailer brake controller. If you have never owned a controller before then this model is definitely one of the best aftermarket trailer brake controllers in terms of price and feature set.

Pros:

  • Easy to install with its plug-and-play port
  • The large LED display allows you to see a lot of information
  • Small and compact. Does not take a lot of space on your dashboard

Cons:

  • The dashboard mounting kit is not universally compatible with every vehicle

Editor's Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop Electronic Brake Control
  • Type: Proportional
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 3
  • Display: LED

For those who have never owned a trailer brake controller before, the Draw-Tite 20191 is an excellent model to consider. Indeed, this top-rated trailer brake controller is very easy to install and comes as a kit with all installation accessories, including screws and mounting clips.

Since this is a proportional controller, it will constantly calculate your speed at which your trailer is moving and proportionally adjust the braking force for you. It has a boost feature which will also prove to be handy when backing up with a heavy trailer.

Moreover, this unit is able to control up to 3 axles, therefore allowing you to automatically control 6 wheel brakes with ease. Best of all, the LED display is also quite visible both during the day as well as at night since it is very bright.

Pros:

  • Bright LED display
  • Able to control up to 6 trailer brakes with ease
  • Smooth and high performing trailer brake controller
  • Plug-and-play port for easy installation

Cons:

  • None

Editor's Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Reese Towpower 74642 Brake Control
  • Type: Time-delayed
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 2
  • Display: Indicator light

One of the best things about the Reese Towpower is its simplicity and extremely affordable price. In fact, this model is regarded as one of the best trailer brake controllers for the money when it comes to price.

Since it is a simple design, it does not come with a digital or LED display. However, it has a red indicator light that will show you the various settings applied by the controller. This model is able to control up to 4 trailer brakes since it is a 2 axle system.

The slide adjustment will also allow you to shift between multiple pre-calibrated settings by the manufacturer with ease. Best of all, this model is compatible with all electric trailer brakes as well as hydraulic types of brakes so it is quite versatile.

Pros:

  • Very affordable. Value for money
  • Compatible with electric and hydraulic trailer brakes
  • Easy to install on the dashboard

Cons:

  • Limited adjustment settings
  • The red indicator light is basic. Does not show a lot of details

Editor's Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Hopkins 47284 Reliance Digital Trailer Brake Control
  • Type: Time-delayed
  • Number of Axles: 1 - 4
  • Display: LED

The Hopkins 47284 is a simple and yet highly effective trailer brake controller that uses a time-delayed system to automatically control up to 8 trailer brakes for you.

This model has a small LED display that will show you a wide range of brake settings as well as car settings like voltages on the fly.

But one thing that makes this unit one of the best aftermarket trailer brake controllers is definitely its ability for the LED to show the amount of braking force exerted on the brakes. Moreover, you can easily adjust the braking force with the push of a button.

If you have never installed a trailer brake controller before, the plugging connector makes it extremely easy for even beginners to do so.

Pros:

  • Easy to install by even beginners. Uses 12 V to power the controller
  • Able to control up to 4 axle or 8 trailer brakes
  • The LED shows the amount of force exerted on the braking pads

Cons:

  • Since it is time-based, it is not as smooth as a proportional trailer brake controller

Types of Trailer Brake Controller

#1. Proportional

proportional trailer brake controller

The proportional trailer brake controller is the most popular type of controller on the market.

When the trailer is in motion and at a certain speed, the proportional trailer brake controller will automatically make adjustments such that it delivers the right amount of force on the brake pads of the trailer. This type of trailer brake controller has a fairly complex internal design that is more advanced when compared to a time-delayed model.

Indeed, it has a small CPU pretty much like a computer that constantly makes calculations about the speed it is moving and how much force needs to be applied to the trailer brakes.

Advantages:

  • Since it makes real-time calculations, braking is much faster and almost real-time
  • The proportional trailer brake controller is known for its smooth and linear braking

Disadvantages:

  • A little bit more expensive than in time delayed brake controller
  • The installation is a little bit more difficult since it has more wires and a more complex internal design

If you don’t want to be bothered with complex adjustments, the proportional trailer brake controller is an easy to use controller type. Simply install it and it will do all the braking automatically for you.

Additionally, if you value comfort when braking, this is the type of trailer brake controller to go with as the braking is incredibly smooth.

#2. Time-delayed

time-delayed trailer brake controller

The time-delayed trailer brake controller is the oldest type of controller on the market. This type of controller sends a signal to your trailer brake pads based on the settings and adjustments that you tell it to do.

Unlike the proportional trailer brake controller that makes those calculations automatically, you will have to tell the time-delayed trailer brake controller the amount of force it needs to apply at the brakes.

Therefore, this type of brake controller can be imagined to be a “manual” trailer brake controller when compared to the proportional type.

Advantages:

  • Cheaper than the proportional trailer brake controller
  • Due to a simpler design, it is more easy to install
  • It has more adjustments and offers more customization options

Disadvantages:

  • Since the braking is more severe, it causes more wear-and-tear to the trailer brake pads

For those on a small budget or like to tweak the braking system to the way they like, the time-delayed trailer brake controller is an excellent choice. It offers tons of customization, is easy to install and very affordable.

How to Buy a Trailer Brake Controller

How to Buy a Trailer Brake Controller

#1. Electric or Hydraulic

There are basically 2 types of trailer brakes on the market. The electric and hydraulic trailer brake. The electric trailer brakes are the most common type of brake that you will find an is literally an industry standard in trailers.

This is because this type of brake is cheaper to make as well as has a good response time. On the other hand, the hydraulic brake is mostly found in vehicles like cars and is a more modern and performing type of brake. However, it is also more expensive.

When choosing between the electric and hydraulic brake, noting that it makes little difference to the trailer brake controller as this controller is able to control both types of brakes with equal ease. Therefore, even if your trailer is equipped with a hydraulic brake, you will be able to find a good trailer brake controller to work with it.

#2. Voltage

When it comes to voltage, the trailer brake controller works with either a 12 V power supply or a 24 V. Some traders are able to output only 12 V DC while others will provide you a range of voltages from 12 V to 24 V. If you use the wrong type of voltage on your trailer brake controller, obviously it will damage the device so you need to ensure the right type of voltage first.

#3. Number of Axles

Basically, the number of axles in a trailer brake controller will dictate how many wheels it can control. The more axles it can connect to; the more wheels it will be able to control. In general, trailer brake controllers are able to control 1 - 2 axles, 1 - 3 axles or 1 - 4 axles for controlling up to 8 wheels at a time.

You will need to choose the right type of axle based on your trailer type. If your trailer has 4 axles, then going with a 2 axle trailer brake controller is not a good idea as it will make it underperform.

#4. Display

The display is where you get a visual idea about what is going on in the wheels of your trailer. Most high-quality trailer brake controllers will display a diagnostic of the battery, output current, and brake pad force applied in real-time.

In general, led monitors are very reliable, durable and long-lasting. They are also easy to see at night as well as during the day with no glare.

Moreover, the amount of details displayed in the display of your trailer brake controller is another important factor to consider. Evidently, the more details you get the better since this will provide you with more information.

#5. Setting options

The setting option will allow you to make different adjustments to your trailer brake controller. If you need to control the force exerted on the brake pads of your trailer with the trailer brake controller, then you need to go with a model that offers you this type of setting. It is usually called a “boost feature”.

Additionally, you may want to switch between a hydraulic and electric trailer brake mode on the fly as these offer you two different types of braking experiences. Some models of trailer brake controllers allow you to do that with the push of a button in all safety.

#6. Easy to install

You do not want a trailer brake controller that is overly complex to install.

Basically, all you will have to do is splice the wires of the trailer brake controller and connect it to the trailer connector as well as to the brake paddle switch for it to have complete control over your trailer brakes.

#7. Size

The size of the trailer brake controller is especially important when you want to install it in your dashboard. You do not want it to be too big if you have a small dashboard, for example.

Additionally, the controller needs to be installed in a strategic position such that it is easy to reach and make adjustments to when necessary.

#8. Warranty

For peace of mind, you want a trailer brake controller that comes with a warranty that is at least 1 year.

This device is almost impossible for the average person to repair so you may want to factor in that extra level of reassurance with a warranty period from the manufacturer.

How to Install a Trailer Brake Controller

Step 1 – Make a wire harness

The first step when installing a trailer brake controller is to install your wires. This is called a wire harness.

Some vehicles already make provisions for brake controller wires and will label is something like “electric brake controller”. But if you do not have your wiring harness already installed, you will need to make the pre-wiring by splicing wires and connecting them.

Luckily, most manufacturers of trailer brake controllers already ship their units with wires so that you can easily install them.

The wires in the trailer brake controller have different colors that will show you which wire connects to what. Your installation manual will prove to be handy in this situation.

Step 2 - Install the controller

Now that you have made the wire harness, you will need to install your trailer brake controller in an accessible position. This is because you will sometimes need to make adjustments to your controller system. In general, people install the trailer brake controller on their dashboard for easy accessibility.

Step 3 - Calibrate the controller

You will find that your trailer brake controller comes with multiple settings. This will allow you to adjust your trailer brake controller based on the type of vehicle you have as well as the weight of your trailer. Moreover, you may need to refer to your user manual to see which setting is made for your trailer.

Conclusion

At this point, it should be clear that you need a trailer brake controller if you have a trailer that exceeds 1000 lbs of weight. It is for your own security as well as for the security of others because it will allow you to maneuver your trailer better when applying the brakes.

Moreover, one of the best things about the brake controller is its price. It is highly affordable and when compared to other trailer accessories, it costs almost nothing.

Finally, if you have read our trailer brake controller review above and still not found a decent controller model, we recommend you read it again because you may have missed something.

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