Electric Trailer Brakes are Putting Brake Control in its Place

Rick Zettler
Z-Comm

It's a convenience whose time has come. Historically, contractors who owned multiple-vehicle fleets pulling electric brake trailers were required to wire each vehicle separately for towing a trailer. "The electric brake trailer controller was typically mounted inside the tow vehicle within reach of the driver, usually under the dashboard," comments Carlton Saunders, marketing manager for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Innovative Electronics, Inc.

Vehicle wiring has been a necessary expense that has come with the territory for contractors towing the tools of the trade to the jobsite. However, Innovative Electronics views wiring the tow vehicle as an additional cost and nuisance for the contractor; and a waste of time and money. This holds especially true for the company that frequently turns over its fleet of tow vehicles.

"Every time a company purchases a new truck, extra time and money must be dedicated to wiring the vehicle for brake control," Saunders adds. "If not wired properly, the modification could void the vehicle's warranty, potentially costing the company more money down the road."

Direct Mount Controller         
The recent introduction of an entirely new style of brake control unit from Innovative Electronics promises to eliminate the time, expense and need of wiring the tow vehicle. The company's Innovator control unit mounts directly to the trailer . The compact, one-pound module installs to either the trailer's jack mount plate or right to the frame.

Only two wire connections are required to install the controller on the trailer. "Installation is very easy. It took about 5 or 10 minutes to install the brake control unit," says Jim Hoeger, co-owner of Complete Home Repair and Remodeling, LLC, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I often tell customers it is so simple, if I can properly install it to a trailer, anyone can," jokes Byron Cooper, national sales manager for Innovative Electronics."

With the unit's wireless transmitter, any vehicle with towing capabilities can tow the trailer. The transmitter is used to set the control unit and has three operational settings that the driver can choose: unloaded, fully loaded and test. The test function allows the driver to apply the brakes to correct occurrences of "trailer sway" by holding back the trailer and allowing it to fall back in line with the tow vehicle.  The Innovator fully complies with Department of Transportation regulations by allowing the driver to actuate the trailer's brakes without stepping on the tow vehicle's brake pedal.

A simple design with no moving parts makes the Innovator vibration resistent, so it is durable enough to withstand the rigors of construction environments.The brake control unit is designed for use with any one-, two- or three-axle trailer. Using advanced diagnostic technology, the control unit automatically monitors itself hundreds of times per second to ensure the hitch maintains in the neutral position. " The Innovator offers very smooth breaking, and we don't feel any jerking from the trailer," says Hoeger. "With regular control units, if you don't have it set properly, you'll feel the trailer."

The Innovator has rated weight capacities of 5,000 lb and 3,500 lb per axle for two- and three-axle trailers respectively. This enables contractors to tow a wide variety of construction equipment, from small compactors and pavers to skid steers and compact equipment, while using the wireless brake control unit.

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