Electric Brake Cost (Without Battery, Boat Trailer, Camper)

It is critical to maintain complete control of your vehicle, especially if you are hauling a heavy trailer. If you are a new trailer owner, this article tackles some common questions about your rig’s braking system.

So, how much do electric brakes cost? An electric brake controller costs around $60- $300 based on several factors. The cost can drop or increase depending on the vehicle and trailer type and the total weight you are hauling. Manufacturers also price their systems differently, and it will cost you extra to have the brakes installed by professionals who will charge you up to $300 according to how demanding the job is.

There is much to learn about electric trailer brakes, their costs, whether the caravan still needs batteries, and how else you can install and use them. If you love traveling around while towing your caravan, you understand that it involves hefty lifting, hence the need for an electric brake controller. Trailers typically have an in-built electric braking system, but you also need controllers to activate them and keep you safe.

The electric brake controller can cost you anything between $60 and $300, depending on factors like the brand and design. The cost will also differ based on your type of vehicle and trailer and how much weight you are lifting.

A professional will also charge you separately for the installation, and the cost can go up to $300, according to how asking the process is. Therefore, the total rate for purchasing and installing electric brake controllers can reach a maximum of $600.

Electric brake controllers are necessary if you are hauling more than 750kgs. Trailers are non-motorized vehicles; therefore, you need efficient brakes when another machine operates and pulls them.

When you hire experts, they install the controller at the driver’s side beneath the dashboard and wire it together with the already in-built brakes on your caravan. It will effectively tell when the driver has hit the brakes, and it will be easier to adjust the braking power you want to exert on the trailer.

Given how essential the gadget is, every trailer driver should have it installed, but one pressing question is how much you need to invest in it. You don’t want to overspend or buy a cheap, ineffective version.

Usually, the prices of each system vary for each vehicle based on several factors like the model and the size and type of trailer you want to tow. Another vital consideration is how heavy the entire caravan is.

You will notice that controllers for light rigs are distinct from the ones you need for heavy lifting. Various manufacturers also sell their systems at different prices, and it is crucial to only go for reputable brands.

The type of controller also matters because each version has a unique price tag based on its performance. There are three types of brake controllers: time-activated, wireless, and proportional systems.

The time-activated system transmits power to the trailer’s brakes whenever you hit the one in your vehicle according to a preset intensity. On the other hand, the proportional controller replicates the intensity of your braking at the front, transferring it to the trailer. Therefore, the entire system will stop whenever you hit the vehicle’s brakes.

Lastly, the wireless version doesn’t require further wiring like the first two and exchanging it between different vehicles is easy. Since each electric brake controller and car differs, the installation and purchase cost significantly varies. You can part with $60- $300 to buy one gadget, while the installation cost can go up to $300. Therefore, you can spend around $300- $600 on average.

Can you use electric brakes on a boat trailer?

You can tow your trailer when traveling across states or your boat when taking it to open water. While there are usually no issues with the type of brakes to install in a standard caravan, boat trailers are unique since you have to submerge them in water. You may be cautious about the effect of the interaction between the electric brakes and liquids.

Electric brakes can work on boat trailers but with certain precautions. It is not endorsed over surge brakes because water affects electric appliances when the boat submerges. Experts advise that you disconnect the trailer from the hauling vehicle before you dip the vessel in the water. Luckily, manufacturers are coming up with ways to safely use electric brakes on boat trailers thanks to improved wiring and the adoption of heat shrink cables.

Boat trailers use two central braking systems, electric and surge, and you can install either according to your preference. Electric brakes have a pump on the trailer that transmits the signal whenever you apply the brakes on the towing vehicle. In contrast, surge brakes depend on the trailer and vehicle connection. The car slows down, and the brake fluid flows to the calipers, halting the trailer and keeping you and the load safe while driving. 

The two systems have a similar working principle, to stop the trailer when the car stops. However, some drivers opt for electric brakes, which are more convenient for riding on uneven terrains, and the caravan can go up and down hills effortlessly.

It is no wonder you would want to use it on a boat trailer. Unlike regular trailers, boats will eventually submerge in water, meaning the electricity will interact with the liquid, which is always disastrous.

Thankfully, you can still install the brakes in the boat, although it is not advisable to avoid the dangerous interplay. You can take some safety measures, like disconnecting it from the car before submerging it.

Manufacturers never installed electric brakes on such trailers to protect the systems. The magnet connection on the brakes and the trailer should be well-insulated to avoid contact with water.

Currently, more manufacturers use electric brakes on boats since technology has advanced, featuring better wire insulation and the adoption of heat shrink cables. You don’t have to panic about installing them on your trailer anymore as long as you take the necessary precautions.

Also, remember to pick the right assemblies for your system, considering your axle’s weight capacity. You can consult professionals to advise you on the ideal brakes for your boat trailer and ask them how to protect them from submerging effects.

Will trailer brakes work without batteries?

If you are a new trailer owner, it is easy to get confused by some contradicting information you hear or find online. You may know that the trailer has a battery inside, which begs the question, what happens when it dies? Will the brakes still function?

The trailer brakes will work even without a battery, provided the brake controller is on and there is still a connection with the towing vehicle. Not having a cell or using a dead one has no significant effect on the brakes when there is a link between the two. Instead, the electric brakes will step in since the battery is solely for an emergency breakaway if the trailer detaches from the car. Therefore, the system will lose this feature if the battery is dead or unavailable.

The standard electric brakes need electricity to operate, and a typical trailer uses this and a battery backup. The power from the car transfers to the towed caravan, and the system, in turn, halts when it receives the signal.

However, if a problem occurs, like your trailer accidentally detaches, the battery takes over as a fail-safe switch. Its main goal is to serve as an emergency braking system for such an unfortunate event.

Without it, the vehicle will not have emergency braking, but the electric brakes will still function as long as there is a link between them. The trailer will stop when needed, provided it doesn’t detach from the two vehicles and the brake controller works perfectly. Therefore, you don’t have to panic that the battery is dying or missing; alternatively, ensure that you take care of the electric brake system and controllers.

The trailer and the car must have an integrated braking system. They stay connected throughout the drive, meaning a standard power intensity is exerted within them. It remains even for them to stop harmoniously. There is a resistant pedal on the electric brakes linked to the foot pedal, and the driver can step on it to exert the necessary pressure for a safe braking level.

Although having a standard braking system is critical, it doesn’t mean you don’t need the battery’s breakaway feature. The cable is legally required to be fitted on all caravans or similar structures.

Therefore, the battery will be handy if you haul 750-3,500kgs. If the towing car unplugs from the trailer, you will be sure that you have a plan B now that the brakes will not have power from the primary system.

The emergency feature has a unique design that effortlessly helps the trailer halt without depending on the towing vehicle. However, sometimes, the braking system fails even when the two are still connected.

If your brakes are failing, you can check for anomalies like corrosion in the connectors, which can interfere with the contact, and confirm that the wires are fine. You can also check the brake magnets and the controller to ensure that the ground connection is OK.

Do I need trailer brakes for a pop-up camper?

You need an efficient braking system when hauling a heavy load of hundreds of pounds; otherwise, you will risk hitting rails or causing accidents. Therefore, most manufacturers ensure that the trailers they make have brakes. If you have a pop-up camper, you may be conflicted about whether they also need brakes installed.

Since it is not mandatory, you don’t need trailer brakes on your pop-up camper. Not all have them, but most manufacturers install them for the driver’s safety. Whether to have it or not usually depends on the trailer’s size and your state’s regulations. Besides, it will be safer for you to tow a massive camper with brakes, but they are not necessary for tiny trailers. You will also notice that some companies install the brakes on any version heavier than 1500 pounds, and some states have made it a requirement.

Trailer brakes are crucial for you and other motorists, and they help make hauling heavy cargo easier. They offer the ultimate support for the car to avoid it bearing the entire weight of the caravan when it has to stop.

Consequently, this reduces the braking system’s wear and tear, and halting becomes more effortless as the weight spreads. It is also handy for maintaining control when going up and down hills. They automatically work when you hit the brakes, guaranteeing that the trailer and car stop at the same intensity; otherwise, the load would push into the vehicle when it abruptly stops.

Given the several advantages of installing trailer brakes, owners of pop-up campers may also ask whether it is necessary. While most have them installed, not all have braking systems based on the structure’s weight and state laws.

The size primarily determines whether you need brakes or not. Their role is to haul heavier vehicles and avoid accidents, and you will find them handy if your camper weighs more than 750 kgs. Manufacturers install them on the hefty versions but don’t find them essential for smaller campers. Similarly, older and less pricey campers may lack the feature.

Before towing your trailer, it is critical to check your state’s laws because some have stringent rules stating that all rigs weighing more than 1500 pounds should have brakes. You could be in trouble if your pop-up camper exceeds the limit but doesn’t have brakes.

However, it will be worse if you get into an accident and hurt yourself or other motorists. You will also find it hard to control the trailer if it lacks brakes, especially if you want to stop abruptly or are driving down a hill. If yours doesn’t have one, it is advisable to install them. You will feel safer and enjoy towing the massive caravan regardless of the distance.


You will find electric brakes handy if you want to feel secure and enjoy traveling miles with your trailer. They are affordable to install and guarantee that you are always in total control of your vehicle.

You can hit the brakes whenever you want, confident that the heavy load will also stop on time. The best part is that you can use the systems on your boat trailer thanks to advanced technologies. The brakes are life savers on your pop-up camper, especially if it is massive, weighing over 1500 pounds. Lastly, if the trailer detaches from the vehicle, you can also rest assured that the batteries will take over, providing emergency braking power.

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