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View Full Version : electric brake controller $59 to $159 whats the diff


Donde1
04-02-2005, 07:20 PM
Headin out Monday (2000 miles one way) to pick up our TM. (very excited!!!!)

I've never used a brake controller, I've seen them from $59 to $159 whats the difference? I don't care for frills, I just want it to work. I also don't want to buy one less expensive only to find out it's a waste of money because it will not do the job.

93" 3326King
2004 GMC 1/2 ton Crew

Senorsedona
04-02-2005, 07:45 PM
There are many good ones on the market, but I think the best value out there is the Activator II.(By Draw Tite) Besides doing a good job stopping the TM, it also helps locate braking problems. It is an very easy install.
They can be found from $98.00 down to $69.00. I would shop the Inter Net.

I don't blame you for being excited, your going to have a ball in the new TM.

Good Luck.............

Jack

BobRederick
04-02-2005, 09:18 PM
I have the Prodigy and find it a great brake controller. It automatically levels itself, has feedback regarding connection to the trailer, digital readout of applied braking voltage and 3 or 4 programs to bring the brakes on for different type trailers. These have come a long way since I bought my old one which I wound up driving with for who knows how long after it failed to operate.... This one goes from $95 to $150 depending on sales, etc. Its well worth the $$$ in my opinion. I moved it from my older TV to the new one.

Bob

fcatwo
04-02-2005, 09:22 PM
You will never spend an extra $50.00 more wisely than on a good brake controller. The Draw-Tite may be a clone of one of these but the Prodigy and Jordan are rated highest by people here and elsewhere. Do a search at "Search" above on brake controllers and you'll get multiple opinions. This sounds almost like an April 1st question but I'm assuming it isn't.

RockyMtnRay
04-02-2005, 09:34 PM
Headin out Monday (2000 miles one way) to pick up our TM. (very excited!!!!)

I've never used a brake controller, I've seen them from $59 to $159 whats the difference? I don't care for frills, I just want it to work. I also don't want to buy one less expensive only to find out it's a waste of money because it will not do the job.

93" 3326King
2004 GMC 1/2 ton Crew
The ideal goal for a brake controller is it provides trailer braking that's completely proportional to how hard you are braking the tow vehicle and it does this under all conditions. As you will see below, some controllers (the expensive ones) achieve this ideal; the very inexpensive ones don't even come close. There are basically 4 types of technology used in brake controllers:

At the very low end (the $59 units) are the "time delay" controllers. These use a very simple, very stupid, and very dangerous circuit that increases current to the trailer brakes proportionally to how long you hold the brake pedal down. In a panic braking situation, they provide almost no trailer braking during the first critical seconds; OTOH in traffic where you frequently are using long periods of light braking, they will ramp trailer braking up to the maximum after several seconds...and that causes excessive trailer braking and a lot of jerking. The Activator II recommended above is of this type and I personally wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole...IMHO it's a downright dangerous device that should be banned from the market. Aficiondos of time delay controllers often argue that their proclivity to provide too little braking on the highway and too much braking in the city can be dealt with by adjusting the delay and or "gain"...and the makers of these devices make a big issue of how easy they can be adjusted while you're driving. To which I say that first of all, a truly good controller will self-adjust for conditions and secondly the last thing I want to be mucking with in a panic braking situation is the gain on my trailer brake controller.

The next level up are the pendulum based "inertia" controllers. These use some form of mass to measure deceleration of the tow vehicle and therefore provide current to the trailer that's proportional to how hard you are braking the tow vehicle. Hence, unlike the time delay controllers, they will provide maximum trailer braking in the critical first seconds of a panic stop...and they won't cause excessive trailer braking during extended periods of light braking in traffic. These typically cost around $100...a good example is the Tekonsha Voyager. The weakness of pendulum type controllers is the moving mass is affected by gravity as well as by deceleration so they tend to provide too much braking on descents of mountain grades. Another problem with these is they must be mounted more or less horizontally so the moving mass is absolutely level. But they work well on flat land and are a far, far safer/better controller than the time delay types.

A significant step up from the pendulum based inertial controllers are those that use dual solid state accelerometers to measure both the effects of gravity and the effects of deceleration. Sometimes called "self leveling inertia controllers", these use advanced circuits to determine where "down" is regardless of how they're mounted and how steep the grade is...so they always provide exactly the right amount of trailer braking. The prime example of this type of controller is the Tekonsha Prodigy which retails anywhere from about $110 to $150. This is the controller I have and find it works superbly for mountain towing. It never needs to be adjusted to accomodate different situations (just set and forget), never causes jerking of the trailer, can be mounted at almost any angle, and is not affected at all by steep mountain grades.

Another controller that provides trailer braking that's highly proportional to tow vehicle braking is the Jordan Ultima. It uses a mechanical cable attached to the brake pedal to measure pedal movement...and provides trailer braking proportional to how hard you push the brake pedal. It costs about the same as the Prodigy class controllers but is a little harder to install because the mechanical cable has to be attached and correctly adjusted.

The ultimate in brake controllers is the unit from BrakeSmart...this one uses a pressure transducer that's tapped into one of the brake lines coming out of the master cylinder. Guaranteed to provide truly proportional braking since trailer braking is tied to actual tow vehicle brake fluid pressure...but it's pretty costly (around $400) and requires tee-ing into a brake line.

Since the difference in price between the truly bad time-delay controllers and the very good controllers like the Prodigy or Jordan is less than $100...but the difference in safety and smoothness of trailer braking is immense, the intelligent choice is to spend a bit more to get a whole lot more.

hal
04-02-2005, 10:11 PM
I found the Prodigy to be far superior to the Activator II. Even my wife, while sitting in the co-pilot's seat notice the much smoother stopping power.

Hal

Larry_Loo
04-03-2005, 10:29 AM
Money spent on the best brake controller you can purchase is money well spent. With the heavy 3326 behind your tow vehicle there will be a few times when you will want to "stop on a dime." After your successful emergency stop and you wipe the beads of perspiration off your brow, you will thank yourself that you purchased a top-notch brake controller like the Prodigy. The Prodigy is a proven controller. It's the very least that you should install in your tow vehicle. You can find Prodigy brake controllers selling for $99.95 at several online retailers.

hal
04-03-2005, 11:41 AM
I also feel that you should practice all the aspects of towing a trailer. It is easy to get moving forward at a hiway speed. Any idiot can do this. But from then on, there are things that are not so easy. For example backing into a space. Your other half will be giving you directions to turn right, only it is her right and not yours. Some times the driver and helper may be talking in strange tongues or using wildly flailing arms. One of our rewards for stopping early in the late afternoon is to watch the strategies of of other Rv owners. We have even picked up some words that we have never heard before. We think we know what the driver was saying because he was also using sign language when waving his arms and shouting. The helper needs to realize that if he/she cannot see the driver in the mirrors, then the driver cannot see the helper. Practice in a large parking lot when there is no traffic to make things too realistic. Use empty milk cartons to mark out boundaries. And by all means, practice, practice, practice on stopping. There is no more eerie feeling than to step on the brakes and have to rely on the ABS braking system. It will not bring your tv and trailer to a sudden stop. Or, if you were to hit a patch of gravel or ice while applying the brakes. The forward motion of all the weight of the tv and trailer combined, can give you the panicy feeing as if you had no brakes. Be especially careful when making a hair-pin turn and your trailer pushes you straight ahead because of a slippery spot in the road. Also after properly adjusting your brake controller, practice with it at that setting. Then do some practice with the "emergency" trailer brake control. Most of the brake controllers have a sliding control that should help you to use more of the trailer brakes to bring you to a stop. Don't forget to use it if you need to. Trailering is fun, but you should be prepared for anything, such as a car in the other lane that without warning switched to your lane and then immediately stops in front of you for a red traffic light. You hear the truckers talk of this all the time. Even with trailer brakes, and a good brake controller, you just don't have the ability to stop in the same short distance as you could without the trailer hooked on behind. I wish you safe braking.

Hal

Donde1
04-03-2005, 09:22 PM
I felt the confusion lift and confidence set in as I read your comments, opinions, advice and experiences. Y'all have been sooooo incredibly helpful with all my Q's, never once berating me for asking a Q you felt mundane, over asked, or obvious. You Guys are fantastic!!!!

I've seen on a few threads the opportunity to pitch in a few $$$ to help keep this available.

Where do I sign up? How do I contribute?

P.S. Thanks again for makin a green wet behind the ears :new_newbi feel welcome and at home.

Hope to meet some of y'all on the trail some day to shake your hand and say thank you in person.

93" 3326King
2004 GMC 1/2 Ton Crew

RockyMtnRay
04-03-2005, 09:47 PM
I felt the confusion lift and confidence set in as I read your comments, opinions, advice and experiences. Y'all have been sooooo incredibly helpful with all my Q's, never once berating me for asking a Q you felt mundane, over asked, or obvious. You Guys are fantastic!!!!

I've seen on a few threads the opportunity to pitch in a few $$$ to help keep this available.

Where do I sign up? How do I contribute?

Click Here (http://www.trailmanorowners.com/forum/subscriptions.php?). Or send an email to [email protected] It will automatically return an email with the information you need to become a paid member of this board. Paid membership gives you access to a number of technical forums that you can't currently see.

P.S. Thanks again for makin a green wet behind the ears :new_newbi feel welcome and at home.

Hope to meet some of y'all on the trail some day to shake your hand and say thank you in person.

What part of the country do you camp in?

Donde1
04-04-2005, 12:42 AM
Click Here (http://www.trailmanorowners.com/forum/subscriptions.php?). Or send an email to [email protected] It will automatically return an email with the information you need to become a paid member of this board. Paid membership gives you access to a number of technical forums that you can't currently see.



What part of the country do you camp in?

Thanks! Just finished doin the Pay Pal thing.

My wife and I just started selling "magic color changing WonderMugs" We will book various trade shows, arts & craft fairs etc... ie the International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque NM in September.

93" 3326King
2004 GMC 1/2-Ton Crew Cab

hal
04-04-2005, 11:52 AM
Hello Donde1

Now being that you are a member of the National TrailBlazer Chapter, you are also eligibe to attend the National Jubilee in June 25th throu the 30th, 2006. The committee is preparing a "Show and Sell" activity wherein, "amateurs" can set up a table and offer their craft or" to the others.

The Colorado Chapters, Mile High and Pikes Peak are pleased to serve as hosts for this event. It is held every three years and sponsored by one or more chapters of the National Chapter. We are grateful to be able to offer the "best of Colorado". It will be held in Colorado Springs, the center of uncountable numbers of things to see and do. Everyone should mark this date on your calendar. If you are not a member of the National TrailBlazer Chapter, there is still plenty of time to become a member. For membership information go to www.trailmanor.com and selct "TrailBlazers" from the menu and then the submenu "Membership" Dues are only $15.00 for the first year and $10.00 for each continuous year thereafter. Benefits are numerous. First of all you may camp with the best people in the world (Manorites), you recieve the Tidings, which is the newsletter of the National Chapter, plus you should get a 10% discount on TrailManor parts. The Tidings also provides reports on chapter activities, such as rally schedules. Members are warmly welcomed to attend (rsvp) any of these rallies.

The Colorado chapters have created a web site that you can visit for current information. As is the case with anything new, we need to add or adjust information on this site. You should be able to visit this site now at www.jubilee2006.com

Hal

Join now and begin receiving many benefits.