10 Best Trailer Brake Controllers of 2021

Jerry Wilson
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Trailer brake controllers aren’t very complicated products and there’s not much to them, but they can be very important when pulling trailers of all shapes and sizes. This is because trailer brake controllers help to communicate with the brakes on trailers and gives drivers more control over larger trailers.

Without trailer brake controllers, it would be pretty impossible to tow heavy trailers and there would be a higher risk of accidents because of distracted drivers and insufficient brake control.

It’s precisely this reason that makes trailer brake controllers such important pieces of technology and it’s their quality that makes them some of the most important additions to a trailer.

In this article, I’m going to take a look at the 10 best trailer brake controllers of 2019. We’ll look at the most important characteristics of a brake controller, how they work, what safety features they might offer and why they’re needed.

Below you’ll be able to find out all about the 10 best trailer brake controllers of 2019 and you’ll also be able to check out some of the most popular models with their prices and user ratings.

NameCategoryProduct
Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake ControlBest OverallTekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control
Reese TowpowerBudget PickReese Towpower
Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake ControlUpgrade PickTekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

1. Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control

Our rating: 9 / 10

Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control

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Pros:

  • Quality, trusted brand
  • Can be used with brake, electric, and hydraulic brakes
  • System can be integrated with Tekonsha braking products
  • Sized just right for the average cab or generator
  • Small size for tight fit in various trailers
  • Easy to use

The Tekonsha Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control is my top pick because of its intelligent sensor technology with plenty of safety features and flawless installation.

Equipped with proportional pressure sensing capability, the Tekonsha Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control safely reduces the speed of your trailer. The electronic module detects and responds to any pressure changes.

The Tekonsha Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control comes with an installed color monitor to show pressure changes that will illuminate red light (if sensing pressure decrease) to green light (if sensing pressure increase).

2. CURT 51140 TriFlex Electric Trailer Brake Controller

Our rating: 8 / 10

CURT 51140 TriFlex Electric Trailer Brake Controller

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Pros:

  • Super easy plug and play installation
  • At 12 amps this is a nice size for medium to large camper trailers
  • Proportional control makes it easy to control
  • Very small and lightweight
  • Cushioned mounting bracket
  • LED indicators let you know what the batter voltage is
  • Re-settable control
  • Reasonable price for the quality of product you get
  • User friendly and easy instructions

This is a great little brake controller for anyone that's camping. It's really easy to install, and the control on it is very good for the price you pay. It hooks up easily to your trailers wiring harness, and you're able to set it up the way you like it. The nice thing about this brake controller is that it gives you clear feedback about your vehicles battery system so you'll always be able to keep your battery charged. If you're looking for a smaller, user friendly brake controller then you've found it in this little CURT 51140 brake controller. This electric trailer brake controller has made a lot of people happy. It takes the guess work out of towing a trailer, and it just works!

3. Reese Towpower

Our rating: 8 / 10

Reese Towpower

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Pros:

  • Compact design
  • Easy to use
  • Works with nearly every trailer

Cons:

  • * Most expensive option on the list

Our top pick is the Reese Towpower. This option is my personal favorite and one I use for my Crossover trailer. We chose the Reese because it’s easy to use and has a simple button design that needs only be plugged into a 4 way plug in order to work.

This controller measures eight inches long x four and a half inches wide x six inches high. It weighs just 2.5 pounds, making it the most lightweight option on our list. Its round design is compact, making it easy to store when not in use.

In addition, this controller is activated by a three-inch wide aluminum paddle that makes it easy to reach and manipulate. Despite its small size, it allows for continuous towing up to 10,000 pounds.

4. Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control

Our rating: 8 / 10

Draw-Tite 5504 Activator IV Electronic Brake Control

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Pros:

  • Comprehensive Display
  • Self-Storing Wiring Harness
  • Long Range Control Head
  • Not Water-Resistant

The Draw-Tite Activator Electronic IV is one of the most reliable and easy to use brake controllers on the market. It installs in minutes with minimal wiring and has an electronic throttle control with a super bright LED display, making it incredibly simple to use. Its built-in self-storing wiring harness makes hiding all of the wires a breeze and eliminating the risk of the wires getting tangled up in the towing process.

The Activator IV has a 2-Mile control head and has one of the best transmission ranges on the market with over 2-Mile remote control range, making it ideal for long towing distances.

Plus, the Activator Electronic IV boasts a weatherproof finish, making it the perfect fit for use in bad weather or for travelers who plan to tow their trailer across the country (or back and forth across the continent).

5. Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Plug-in Simple Brake Control

Our rating: 8 / 10

Hopkins 47297 INSIGHT Plug-in Simple Brake Control

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Pros:

  • Easy Setup
  • Extendable Trailer Harness
  • Sensitive Control

The Hopkins 47297 is priced well and packs a lot of amazing features which make it a great purchase for any trailer user. T

He controller is easy to install and comes with a complete setup video to help with the process.

While the controller is easy to install, it’s equally as easy to use and gives you a lot of control over how much braking comes through your trailer and into your tow vehicle.

6. Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop IQ Electronic Brake Control

Our rating: 8 / 10

Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop IQ Electronic Brake Control

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Pros:

  • iPhone, Android, and in-dash integration
  • Convenient feature
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Sometimes your smartphone battery isn’t powerful enough
  • Poor Bluetooth stability

If you’re looking for a convenient, simple, and functional brake controller, the Draw-Tite 20191 I-Stop IQ is an excellent choice, especially since it comes with both a wireless remote and access to smart phone technology. The Draw-Tite controller has a high-performance processor that offers the smoothest and most precise response from your trailer brakes. You can set braking force precisely with the IQ controller.

This unit is one of the most technologically advanced units on this list. It offers you premium performance and compatibility with both Apple and Android operating systems, you’re never going to be left without a way to control your brake.

The overall installation of this unit is very straightforward and can be done by most Do-It-Yourselfers with some knowledge of basic electrical engineering.

7. CURT 51110 Venturer Electric Trailer Brake Controller

Our rating: 8 / 10

CURT 51110 Venturer Electric Trailer Brake Controller

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Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Simple to program
  • Features a trailer light, so it doesn’t require an extra cable
  • Short learning curve with minimal buttons
  • Solidly built
  • Easy to access manual book
  • Options for both class 2 and class 3, while being reliable for either

Cons:

  • Large, bulky controller
  • You can only access brake settings by turning the control knob on top
  • Control knob has a small spring attached to it that can be annoying at times
  • Bracket housing can be a bit tough to secure to the frame

Another budget-friendly pick, the Venturer comes with many helpful features that make it a good choice for new and seasoned trailer users alike. It is also a great budget-friendly choice. The Venturer comes with a 10-minute time delay equipped with a manual override switch.

Gone are the days of hoping you have enough time to reach down and set the controller on your bike. With the manual override switch, you can hit the button at any time and it will give you a quick pop in the break, a great feature for those clip-on tie downs.

8. Hopkins 47284 Reliance Plug-in Simple Brake Control

Our rating: 8 / 10

Hopkins 47284 Reliance Plug-in Simple Brake Control

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Pros:

  • Easy Installation
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compact and Portable
  • 6 Foot Lead
  • Easy Control
  • One-touch Safety Cutoff Switch
  • Metal Housing

Cons:

  • Some users complain that it takes time to train their horses
  • The lead isn’t very durable

Despite its compact size, the Hopkins Simple Plug-in Brake Control has a lot of oomph and is capable of delivering up to 5000 lbs. of trailer and towed vehicle control. It can handle your main line brakes and let you have “hands free” control. And it is very easy to install as it can be used directly in your standard 4-way flat trailer plug.

The most interesting part about this Plug-in Brake Control is its built-in safety cutoff feature that will let you control the braking system with just one touch. It also has a built-in overheat protection which will save you a lot of money from major problems that can be caused by your primary brake system due to overuse. It also comes with a safety switch for safe operation when not connected to a trailer.

9. Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

Our rating: 7 / 10

Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control

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Pros:

  • Easy setup for both tow-vehicle and trailer
  • No need for upgrade when towing trailers of different weight
  • Weather tight sealed and has a metal housing
  • One-touch control
  • Uses a standard 4-Pole flat connector

This electronic controller is one of the best you can find on the market. It is designed for both durability and convenience, and is easy to set up and use. There is no need for you to purchase additional components as well because the Tekonsha 90195 P3 will work on different models of RVs depending on the type of plug used.

Another outstanding feature of the Tekonsha controller is that it is weather resistant and will still work well even in harsh weather conditions such as rain or snow. You can simply push a button to turn off the system if you need to. There is also a built-in protection function that will stop the trailer from being left in park.

Since the Tekonsha 90195 P3 version comes with a metal housing, corrosion is not a problem, which you will not need to deal with at all. This is a great feature for those who tend to forget to clean their equipment after use. With this controller, you can breathe easy knowing that you will not have to worry about such an issue.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which trailer brake controller is best?

Most of the people buy this trailer brake controller and customers love it. If you are searching for trailer brake controllers, we recommend this product.

Anyone who plans on taking longer trips by trailer would benefit hugely from this product in order to help remain in control of the vehicle. This product reduces strain and helps you relax more. It is built to be durable and stay active for a long time. Do not waste your time anywhere else.

It is a nice and large controller that you can put in your truck and take off for many fun trips with the family. There is an idiot-proof design that makes it very easy to install. It has everything you would ever need. This is a must have item for your car if you are planning to hit the road.

There is a light built into it so that you can look at it during the day and at night. It is made up of TPMS that helps you to avoid obstacles in front of your car.

How do I choose a trailer brake controller?

First, you should use the information in our Best 10 list to narrow your options down. Then, you’ll want to look at a few things to determine your buying choice.

Do trailer brake controllers go bad?

Most trailer brake controllers have a mechanism to conceal the fact that they have lost power from the tow vehicle. They do this in one of two ways.

In a proportional system, the trailer will be able to connect and disconnect smoothly, but the braking will become less effective the longer you drive. In other words, a trailer that has lost power can still have seamless connection to its tow vehicle, but an inexperienced driver could leave too much room between their vehicle and the one in front of them.

A time delay system is worse for the passenger. The brake controller will not accurately determine how much braking to apply, and the entire vehicle will jerk to a stop. It doesn’t matter than the trailer comes to a stop just in time. A jerk that is hard enough or too fast can cause serious injury, and that applies to both the driver and the passengers.

How much does it cost to install a trailer brake controller?

While there are some that may try to sell you high-end brand-name trailer brake controllers, it might be worth looking for reviews on popular, less expensive models. When you only need basic functionality, it's hard to justify the price of a more expensive model. On the other hand, if your budget allows for a more expensive product, and you have the need for more tech, then the better models will have features that you can't live without. All of our reviews are primarily focused on the budget-conscious buyer, so we tend to focus on less expensive models.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you're purchasing a cheaper model.

Conclusion

If you haven't yet decided on the best trailer brake controller for your vehicle, you may be surprised to learn just how many features and benefits they come with. You will find a lot of excellent choices recommended in this article, and we are certain will you will find one to fit your needs. The price range is wide, and there are all kinds of trusted names on the list. You will find that these controllers can make a major difference in the ride and the safety of your trailer.

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Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Tekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake ControlBest OverallTekonsha 90160 Primus IQ Electronic Brake Control
Reese TowpowerBudget PickReese Towpower
Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake ControlUpgrade PickTekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Brake Control