How Do Electric Trailer Brakes Work and What Are the Benefits?

As the landscape of trailers continues to change, braking systems are also becoming more complicated. Since there are many different types of brakes, it cannot be easy to find the right one for you. This guide will help you understand how electric trailer brakes work and why they might be the best fit for your needs.

Electric trailer brakes are typically used on horse trailers but can be used on other types of trailers. Electric trailer brakes allow the vehicle to stop without the driver moving their feet or hands.

This is done by using an electric current to activate a braking mechanism that applies either brake pads or brake disks to reduce the vehicle's speed.

These brakes are usually operated by a control box located under the vehicle's dashboard. This box has various options and features that allow you to customize your braking system to your specific needs and preferences.

Electric trailer brakes have become increasingly popular in recent years, with their popularity skyrocketing in 2021. With their increasing availability, they are also more affordable than ever before.

Table of Contents

What Are Electric Trailer Brakes?

Electric brakes are a type of braking system that uses an electric current to activate the brakes. This is done by using a control box located under the vehicle's dashboard, which has various options and features that allow you to customize your braking system to your specific needs and preferences.

The electric current is used to activate either brake pads or brake disks, which then reduce the vehicle's speed. This allows the vehicle to stop without the driver having to move their feet or hands.

How do electric trailer brakes work?

Electric trailer brakes send an electric current through a coil inside the wheel hub, powered by either a battery or solar energy. Magnetic fields are generated by this current, which interacts with a magnet attached to the axle.

This interaction causes the axle to rotate, allowing the wheels to turn. When the brakes are activated, the rotation of the axle is stopped, and the wheel comes into contact with the ground. The result is that the vehicle comes to a stop.

Why should I use electric trailer brakes?

Electric brakes make trailers safer, work longer and respond faster than manual brakes. They are also easier on your wallet, with lower operating costs than manual braking systems. So if you currently use manual braking systems, it may be time to consider switching to electric brakes.

A number of advantages come with installing electric trailer brakes in your horse trailer. One reason is that they are safer than conventional trailer brakes. Traditional trailer brakes use hydraulic fluid to apply the brakes.

If these brakes leak, the hydraulic fluid can leak onto the road and damage vehicles and pedestrians. Electric trailer brakes do not require liquid to operate properly and pose less risk to people and property.

How do electric trailer brakes work on a travel trailer, and how often do the bearings need to be lubricated?

The most common electric trailer braking system is called a "hydraulic" braking system. It uses hydraulic fluid to transfer power from the engine to the brakes. These brakes are typically found on larger vehicles such as trucks and semi-trucks. They require regular maintenance and lubrication to function properly.

How do electric travel trailer brakes work?

The most common type of electric trailer brake is the hydraulic disc brake. These brakes are usually found in horse trailers because they are easy to install and operate.

They consist of two disks that rotate together and are connected by a rod. In one of the disks, there is a piston that presses against the other disk, creating friction and slowing down the rotation of the trailer. The disc rotates around a central axis perpendicular to the direction of travel.

How do self-adjusting electric trailer brakes work?

The most common type of electric trailer brake is the self-adjusting brake. These brakes are designed to automatically regulate the pressure applied to the wheel based on the vehicle's speed.

They are usually found in horse trailers, as they are ideal for slowing down horses during loading and unloading. Self-adjusting brakes are much quieter than the hydraulic brakes mentioned above, and they also provide better performance than non-self-adjusting brakes.

How do electric versus hydraulic trailer brakes work?

Hydraulic brakes are still the most common type of braking system in trailers. They are made up of a master cylinder and several cylinders that apply pressure to the wheel brakes.

Due to its design, this vehicle uses a uniform braking force on all four wheels. In addition, the braking force can be easily adjusted by adjusting the pressure on each wheel.

How do electric brakes work on a boat trailer?

The most common type of electric trailer brakes is hydraulic disc brakes. These brakes are usually found on larger vehicles like trucks and vans. They consist of two disks attached to each wheel.

As the wheels turn, the disks move against each other, creating friction that slows the vehicle. Disk brakes are very effective at quickly slowing down large vehicles. However, they can be very noisy when in operation.

How do electric trailer brakes stop a horse trailer?

Electric trailer brakes are an excellent choice for horse trailers because they are safe and quiet. Moreover, they require less maintenance than standard trailer brakes. The brakes on most electric trailers automatically adjust their braking force based on the trailer's speed.

The trailer is braked by a combination of mechanical and electrical components. When the brakes are applied, friction occurs between the rotating and stationary disks. The disks then rotate outward until they reach their maximum speed. At this point, the disks begin to decelerate the trailer and eventually come to a stop.

How do electric brakes work on a caravan?

Most electric trailer brakes have a built-in battery that provides power to the braking system. The battery is usually located under the tongue of the trailer.

Some models require an external power source to operate. You should check out our article on external power sources for electric trailer brakes if this is the case.

What are the advantages of electric trailer brakes?

There are several reasons why electric trailer brakes are becoming more popular. First, they are safer than conventional trailer brakes. Conventional trailer brakes use hydraulics, from which fluid can leak into the environment, which can lead to dangerous situations if a spill occurs. Electric trailer brakes do not use fluids that would require proper disposal.

Second, electric trailer brakes are more efficient than conventional trailer brakes. Hydraulic brakes require constant maintenance to keep them functioning properly, and electric trailer brakes only need to be serviced once every few months. Moreover, they are considerably cheaper to repair than hydraulic brakes.

Third, electric trailer brakes are quieter than conventional trailer brakes. Hydraulic brakes do not make noise because they are powered by compressed air. On the contrary, electric trailer brakes make a lot of noise when braking the trailer.

Fourth, electric trailer brakes are easier to install than traditional trailer brakes. Unlike hydraulic brakes, electric trailer brakes do not require any special tools for installation, and all you need is a screwdriver to attach them to the trailer.

Fifth, electric trailer brakes are easier to clean than traditional trailer brakes. Since they do not contain liquids, they are easy to wash off.

Finally, electric trailer brakes are less expensive than conventional ones, and they are often sold at a discount compared to conventional trailer brakes.

How do you test the electric trailer brake?

The first step is to determine if you even need a set of new brakes. If your current brakes are working fine, you do not necessarily need to replace them. Instead, you can adjust them so that they work better. For example, if your brakes are not working properly, consider replacing the brake pads.

If you decide to replace your brakes, there are a few things you should consider before you buy new brakes:

1. make sure you know exactly where the brake pads go. If you do not know where to place the brake pads, you will not choose the right size.

2. Always measure the distance between the center of the wheel axle and the center of the brake pad. This will let you know what size of brake pads you need.

3. do not buy too big or too small brake pads. If you choose larger brake pads, you will have to replace them sooner than expected. Conversely, if you select smaller brake pads, you will have problems with overheating.

4. Consider the type of material your brakes are made of. Cast iron brakes tend to last longer than aluminum ones, and however, they are also heavier.

5. When buying an electric trailer brake, always look at the warranty period. Manufacturers typically offer warranty periods ranging from one to five years, and the longer the warranty period, the lower the price.

6. check the weight class of the trailer for which you want to use the electric trailer brake. Some trailers are heavier than others, and therefore, you need to ensure that the trailer you are using has enough power to support the load it is carrying.

7. It is important to know that there are two types of electric trailer brakes. One is designed to be installed on light trailers. These brakes are usually suitable for towing vehicles weighing less than 2,000 pounds. Another variety is designed for use on heavy trailers. These brakes can handle loads up to 8,000 pounds.

8. Be sure to thoroughly read the owner's manual before installing your electric trailer brakes. When installing these brakes, specific procedures must be followed, and if they are not followed, serious damage may result.

How to set the battery of an electric trailer brake?

The first step is to remove the cover plate from the back of the brake. Then, find where the cables are connected to the brake itself. If you look closely at the brake, you should see two small metal pins sticking out the side.

This is where the brake wire connects to the battery terminals. Once you find them, unplug the connector from the battery terminal. Now you can remove the battery and replace it if needed.

Maintenance of the electric trailer brake

For the safety of your horse or other animal, electric trailer brakes require regular maintenance.

Common maintenance items for electric trailer brakes include:

  • Replacing the battery

  • Replacing the brake cable

  • Replacing the brake shoes

  • Replacing the drum

It is possible to perform many of these tasks without special tools. Other tasks may take a little more time and effort, but it's worth it in the long run. To replace the drum of an electric trailer brake, you will need a special tool that you can find at most hardware stores. However, you only need to buy this tool once.

Troubleshooting electric trailer brakes

If your electric trailer brake system stops working, you should contact a professional service technician. It will be diagnosed and fixed by the technician before it becomes a major issue.

Some of the things the technician can check are:

  • The battery level

  • Voltage level

  • Current flow through the braking system

  • Relay settings

  • Brake pedal position

  • Brake pedal travel

  • Condition of the brake shoes

  • Condition of brake pads

If your electric trailer brakes fail, you should immediately call a professional service technician. It is their job to locate and fix the problem, so your trailer continues to function properly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do you change the batteries of an electric trailer brake system?

There are several ways to change the batteries of an electric trailer brake system. First, you can purchase a replacement battery pack. Second, you can install a new battery pack in

2. Do I need a brake controller for electric brakes?

It is vital to use the brakes of any vehicle, and they allow us to stop quickly and safely without applying pressure to the foot pedals. As a result, if something goes wrong with your braking system, you may run into problems if something goes wrong with your braking system. For example, if your brakes fail, you may not know what to do because you cannot control them.

3. With electric brakes, can I tow a trailer without using a brake controller?

Yes. You only need a power source (such as a battery) and some wiring. You can still use a manual brake system if you do not want to invest in a controller.

4. Do electric trailer brakes work in reverse?

Yes. The reverse function is often overlooked by people looking into electric trailer brakes. If you want to know if your trailer has this feature, look for the word "Reverse" on the side of the brake housing. Some manufacturers provide electric trailer brakes with this feature, while others do not.

5. Do you know how to test an electric brake controller without a trailer?

The first step in testing a trailer brake controller is to determine if it works at all. You can still use a dummy load if you do not have a trailer to test with. Dummy loads are just a small amount of water connected to a pump. Once you have made sure your trailer brake controller is working, you should check its performance. It is necessary to use a pressure gauge to measure the force required to activate the brakes. You should aim for a force of about 5 pounds per square inch (psi).

6. How can I tell if my electric trailer brakes are working?

You should immediately take them to a repair store if anything goes wrong with your electric trailer brakes, you should immediately take them to a repair store. As a first step, make sure whether or not the brakes are working. If they aren't, you'll need to replace the entire brake system. If they are working properly, you should look at the condition of the brake pads and the brake disks. If you see signs of wear, you need new brakes.

7. How do electric trailer brakes adjust themselves?

Brakes are designed to stop the vehicle safely and quickly. They do this by applying pressure to the wheel and tire combination. How much pressure is applied depends on several factors, including speed, load, and terrain. Read our article here if you want to know more about how electric trailer brakes work.

8. Do electric trailer brakes need a battery?

Yes, electric trailer brakes require a battery to power them. The battery itself has several advantages and disadvantages. It helps keep costs down by not requiring a separate generator, but it does take up some space and adds to the vehicle's weight. If you plan on towing long distances, consider installing a generator in your vehicle.

9. How are electric trailer brakes operated?

The braking system uses electricity to power the brakes. There are two main types of electric trailer brakes: direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). DC Brakes are powered by a battery that stores energy from the vehicle's engine, and AC Brakes are powered by a generator that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

10. Do electric trailer brakes adjust themselves?

Yes. If you are hauling a large load, the brakes will apply more pressure to slow the vehicle. If you are hauling a light load, the brakes will not apply as much pressure to stop the vehicle.

11. Can I tow a trailer with brakes without a brake controller?

Yes. If you do not already have a brake controller, you should install one. Brake controllers allow you to control the brakes from anywhere using your smartphone. They also provide additional safety features like automatic braking if you forget to apply the brakes.

12. Do electric trailer brakes work automatically?

Yes. Most electric trailer brakes come with an automatic braking feature. These brakes will stop your trailer without you having to do anything. If you want to operate the brakes manually, you can still do so by pushing a button on the handle. Some brakes allow you to adjust the pressure needed to activate the brakes.

13. Are electric trailer brakes safe?

Electric trailer brakes are very safe. They are safer than traditional hydraulic brakes because there is no fluid involved. However, they are not 100% safe. They can damage your tires or rims if you use the wrong pressure when stopping the vehicle. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing and operating your brakes to avoid this.

14. How are electric trailer brakes wired?

The wiring is fairly simple. Two wires come from the battery, one wire goes to the controller, and another goes to each brake. In response to turning the key, the battery transmits a signal to the brakes through the control unit. Each brake then applies pressure to the wheels based on the signal sent from the control unit.

15. Why should I consider electric trailer brakes?

With more and more trailers being equipped with electric brakes, there are several reasons. Compared to other braking systems, electric brakes are more reliable, have lower operating costs, and are more environmentally friendly.

These benefits make electric trailer breaks an attractive option for many people looking to invest in their trailers. With the increasing availability of electric trailer brakes, they are also more affordable than ever before.

16. When should I use manual braking systems instead of electric trailer brakes?

Electric trailer brakes are great in many ways, but there are some instances where they are not the best choice. Compared to electric trailer brakes, manual braking systems can provide a smoother braking experience. Manual braking systems, which are usually easier to maintain, maybe better.

17. Do electric trailer brakes work in reverse?

Yes. Most electric trailer brakes even come with a reverse function. Remember that you need to take your hand off the brake lever when reversing.

18. Do I need a brake controller for electric brakes?

If you have a standard trailer, you do not need a controller. If you have a semi-trailer, you should consider purchasing a controller. Semi-trailers need a controller because they have two separate braking systems - one for each axle.


It is also made of fiber-reinforced plastic and fully encapsulated in urethane electronics.

The rugged, fiber-reinforced housing is 100% dustproof and waterproof, and the electronics are fully encapsulated in urethane.

It is estimated that 78% of people upgrade their car before upgrading their van or trailer. Therefore, a trailer brake controller for the car is likely to cost two to three times as much as for a van or trailer.


Electric brakes are the first choice for many people who want to convert their trailers into electric vehicles. They are reliable, safe, and efficient. Getting the most from your electric trailer brakes by understanding how they work and following these guidelines.

Rahat Hossain