Electric vs Hydraulic brakes

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Electric vs Hydraulic brakes

Postby windmillnut » Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:37 am

Hello,

I have been reading yup on the brake related posts, but still have a question. I will have brakes on my trailer that is decided. What do you all prefer electric or hydraulic and why? The benefit I can see with hydraulic is that they would seem to be simpler, you do not have to mess with the wiring in your car, and the trailer can be towed by any car with a hitch. Is there more maintenance with hydraulic brakes? Do electric brakes provide better braking?

:thinking:

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Postby madjack » Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:49 am

...electric brakes are much better/smoother and can be acctuated manually from inside the car without acctuating the car brakes, they can also be fine tuned from inside the car to suit driving situations(wet/snow/icy roads)
...hydraulic or surge brakes are OK in an emergency situation but are not very smooth or acurate otherwise and can actuate themselves when not wanted such as going up/down a hill, shifting/accelerating
...the newer electric controllers do not tap into your brake line. Some of them hook up to the brake light curcuit and the better ones use an accelerometer chip and hook up to nothing but a power lead and the trailer brakes themselves...if I had my druthers, I would definitely go with electric brakes
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Postby dhazard » Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:55 am

Stupid thought, if the newer electronic controllers do not tap into the brake line would it be possible to put it in the trailer?
Last edited by dhazard on Thu Jan 12, 2006 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PaulC » Thu Jan 12, 2006 1:01 am

The simplest way to have brakes on your trailer is the old Hydraulic over-ride system. If you require brake control then go for electric. Depending on your current legal requirements, is it necessary to have brakes at all? I have not fitted brakes to mine. Our legal requirements state anything under 750kg's(approx 1600 lbs) does not require brakes.
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Postby madjack » Thu Jan 12, 2006 1:02 am

DHAZARD wrote:Stupid thought, if the newer electronic controllers do not tap into the brake line why would it be possible to put it in the trailer?


Dan, I suppose you could but you would have to run a hot line to it and you would have no manual control over it...one of electric brakes better features
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Postby Juneaudave » Thu Jan 12, 2006 1:18 am

I really can't tell whether your looking at the tow vehicle controller...or the brake system on the trailer. Take a look at this site Champion Trailer that decribes trailer brake basics (maybe biased but a good description anyhow). For a tear...use an electric inertial controller and electric actuated brakes on your trailer. No fuss, no muss...
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Postby Nitetimes » Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:01 am

And no one has even mentioned the added expense of hyd brakes. A good hyd coupler starts around $300, plus you have to run brake lines that will rust out (unless you use SS, can you say $) and you have wheel cylinders and them little buggers don't seem to last more n a few years.
Stick with the lectric, easier to install/maintain and much better control.
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Postby George Kraus » Thu Jan 12, 2006 7:56 pm

Some States, such as Maryland, require brake control from a single source, which means the tow vehicle. The Legal Eagles say this is the direction of the future. Surge brakes are illegal (but it doesn't appear as though anyone is enforcing it) in some States. The Dakotas, and New Jersy require brakes on all trailers. More reason to go with the electric system.
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Postby JunkMan » Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:45 pm

I live in South Dakota, and have never had brakes on small (under 2000 pounds) trailers. I think they are only required over a certain weight limit.

You can get a surge coupler for under $150, I just bought a new one last year for my boat. One problem with surge brakes is that they lock up if you are backing up hill. This is why I had to buy a new controller. Some controllers (like the one I bought) allow you to lock them so you can back up hill (I have a very steep driveway).

If your trailer gets to swaying, it's nice to be able to tap the brakes and straighten it out. You can only do that on a trailer with an electric controller, but not on one with surge (hydraulic) brakes.
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Postby WarPony » Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:04 pm

I agree with all the electric fans here. I rented a car trailer once with hydraulic brakes and HATED THEM!!!! It was herky jerky the whole time!!! I've never had electric brakes before but I will on my next project, that is for sure!!
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Postby dhazard » Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:58 pm

Juneaudave, Thanks for that link will check out the electric break controller that is placed in the trailer. Regards Dan
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electric versus hydraulic brakes

Postby eamarquardt » Sun Nov 12, 2006 11:28 pm

I have a tralier with surge brakes (hydraulic) and they seem to work fine. I have have heard the tires chirping (skidding a little tiny bit) when the trailer was light and I was braking hard so I know they work. I do notice a bit of a "clunk" when starting off from a stop as this is the play being taken out of the actuator. The control that electric brakes offer seems to be a definate plus. I once towed a 1200# tent tralier to Big Bear lake here in SoCal (a steep mountain road) and it scared the heck out of me on the way down. I had a Tauras wagon with front discs and they faded like no body's business. I will not tow a trailer again without brakes.
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Postby Steve Frederick » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:10 am

Glad to see all the votes for electric brakes. For this project I got a #3500 Flexride axle w/ electric brakes. Now, how about advice on controllers? :thumbsup:
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Postby asianflava » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:22 am

A lot of the Airstream folks prefer the Prodigy Brake Controllers.
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Postby Gerdo » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:55 am

Prodigy all the way. http://www.tekonsha.com/prodig.html This is the one I have. I've used the other non-digital ones and you always need to adjust them. The digitals once you know the settings the only reason to adjust is if you bump the settings. If you do you can get it right back where it was.
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