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The Evolution of Electric Trailer Brake Controllers

Anyone who has ever towed a heavy trailer will know the importance of an electric trailer brake controller. Not only do they make towing easier and safer, but they are legally required across Australia when towing a caravan or trailer with a gross trailer mass of over 2000kg.  

Over the years, electric trailer brake controllers have evolved from being a somewhat clunky box mounted in the perfect place to knock it with your knee to smart, sleek systems, hidden away under the dash. Not only has the look evolved but so has the technology, from user controlled to proportional, REDARC is here to explain the evolution of brake controllers.


Out with the old…


For many years REDARC has been manufacturing electric trailer brake controllers that are known as User Controlled. This user control allows the driver to manually set and adjust the amount of braking force applied to the trailer brakes. When the vehicle's brakes are applied, or when the override is pressed, the brake controller is instantaneously activated with no time delay.


towing across red dirt

Trailer brake controllers enable you to tow all the comforts of home with you


In years gone by, proportional or inertia sensing brake controllers have used what was known as a ‘pendulum’ to measure braking force. This idea is that a mechanical pendulum would swing as force is applied to the body of the controller by the vehicle decelerating whilst braking.

This pendulum would then be attached to a variable resistor or have an arm that ran across a resistive plate, which adjusts the signal in the brains of the controller, telling it how hard it should apply the trailer brakes. When proportional braking was first introduced it was quite advanced, though it did have some limitations.

Being a mechanical moving component, it tended to wear down and have ‘dead spots’ where the unit would be less effective. Vibration and dust would also affect the measurement and subsequently braking force. These controllers evolved into ‘solid state’ inertia sensing controllers that helped with some of these downfalls by removing the moving components. However, there was still the need to mount the body of the controller in a certain direction and at a certain angle so that the controller can provide measurement across a range of braking conditions.


towing all the creature comforts

Any trailer with a gross mass over 2000kg needs a brake controller


How the Tow-Pro Elite works


While designing the Tow-Pro Elite, we took the theory of measuring inertia and developed technology that eliminated all the limitations that were inherent in this type of proportional brake controller. Providing users with unmatched trailer braking safety, performance, and install flexibility, the Tow-Pro Elite utilises 3-axis accelerometer and advanced software technology developed in house.

One of the most important features that needed to be considered when designing this new generation of electric brake controller was placement. Previously, the ‘brains’ of electric brake units were mounted under the steering wheel in a position that meant the driver was constantly knocking it with their knee.

The Tow-Pro Elite featured a compact ‘brain’ unit that could be mounted under the dashboard in any orientation, leaving only the remote knob – mounted on the dashboard – in reach and view of the driver.  This knob was designed to fit into the vehicle without intruding on any of the drivers’ space or obstructing the airbags, making it look like a stylish, factory fitted piece of equipment.


Tow-Pro Elite looking sleek in the dash

The Tow-Pro Elite remote knob fits perfectly in any dashboard


The best electric trailer brake controller


This control knob allows for the fine tuning of the Proportional braking strength and can be pressed to apply the trailer brakes independent of the vehicle used to correct any trailer sway. With Proportional braking, the controller measures how hard the vehicle is braking and applies the right amount of brake force to the trailer, ensuring your braking stays smooth, safe, and efficient.

If extreme off-road is more your style, the User Controlled mode can be selected and adjusted by the control knob. The perfect mode for when ultimate control is required, User Controlled is perfect for sand or mud driving, extreme ascents or descents, or just if you prefer.

This more modern brake controller also uses ‘Active Calibration’ which allows the Tow-Pro Elite to constantly monitor the direction of travel and removes the need for an initial calibration process. This active calibration occurs as soon as the vehicle is driving whether a trailer is attached or not.


towing made rugged

The Tow-Pro Elite allows you to tow anywhere


Over the years, trailer braking systems – particularly electric trailer brake controllers – have continued to improve. Moving from clunky, hard to mount boxes to sleek, hidden units, their functionality has pushed the boundaries of innovation to ensure that your towing experience is as smooth, easy, and safe as possible.

For more information on REDARC’s offering of electric brake controllers see our Tow-Pro page. To see how REDARC products could work with your setup check out our virtual Hilux product tour. 


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