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Old 12-03-2021, 10:03 AM   #1
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Brake Controllers

Well, I geared up and purchased a B&W in the bed rail kit and the Andersen Hitch for when I find a nice 5.0 for sale.

My next purchase needs to be a brake controller, are these pretty much all the same or do you all have a trusty favorite?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-03-2021, 10:09 AM   #2
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I like newer trucks with the built in controllers best.



For a wired controller, I like a Tekonsha Prodigy.
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Old 12-03-2021, 10:31 AM   #3
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I had a Tekonsha Prodigy in my previous tow vehicle and it worked great, just didn't like the controller hanging under the dash. For my new tow vehicle I installed a Redarc TOW-PRO ELITE, and I love it. The main control is concealed behind the dash and only a small rotary dial is visible through the dash, easy to adjust and works great
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Old 12-03-2021, 11:51 AM   #4
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I have a Tekonsha Prodigy in my 2005 F150, the Redarc Tow Pro in my 2019 Ridgeline. Both work fine, do the job, offer adjustable progressive braking.

The Tekonsha fits in a dash cubby of my older F150 so isn't hanging below the dash and is an easy reach. The Redarc with its small control knob separate from the main component box offers very 'integrated' in-dash installation options in most any vehicle (needs a dash area only about the size of a quarter).

If I were buying today and my vehicle had a convenient location for the Tekonsha Prodigy it's my preference because of the 'paddle lever' for manual braking independent of the TV (very easy and intuitive to modulate) and its info display that's easy to interpret at a glance.

The Redarc is ideal for very clean custom installation but its push-knob manual override gives a bit less operator control of the rate of independent manual braking IMO, and the lack of display means a bit less info when in use (it uses a flashing LED 'code system' to provide some info, so there's 'flash sequences' to remember and it's a bit less easy to interpret 'at a glance').

Yes, manual application of trailer brakes independent of the vehicle is a rare occurrence, but I prefer the ability to do that in an intuitive and very controlled manner when I do use it. Among other things I find it useful for testing the relative adjustment between trailer brakes on a gravel surface.

Hope that helps, Have Fun!
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Old 12-03-2021, 12:56 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Centex View Post
If I were buying today and my vehicle had a convenient location for the Tekonsha Prodigy it's my preference because of the 'paddle lever' for manual braking independent of the TV (very easy and intuitive to modulate) and its info display that's easy to interpret at a glance.

The Redarc is ideal for very clean custom installation but its push-knob manual override gives a bit less operator control of the rate of independent manual braking IMO, and the lack of display means a bit less info when in use (it uses a flashing LED 'code system' to provide some info, so there's 'flash sequences' to remember and it's a bit less easy to interpret 'at a glance').

Yes, manual application of trailer brakes independent of the vehicle is a rare occurrence, but I prefer the ability to do that in an intuitive and very controlled manner when I do use it. Among other things I find it useful for testing the relative adjustment between trailer brakes on a gravel surface.
Also recommend the Tekonsha Prodigy...we have the P2. Not condemning the Redarc as I've never used it but completely agree with the importance of having ability to easily engage manual trailer braking in a controlled manner. I had an instance once where I was improperly loaded, traveling a bit too fast and hit some uneven roadway that induced some serious sway. Braking just the trailer settled it right down. If I hadn't known to manually brake the trailer (and practiced) the end result could have been catastrophic. Now I'm very conscious of proper loading and we have an Equal-i-zer WDH with 4 point integrated sway control which makes a world of difference when towing.
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Old 12-03-2021, 01:41 PM   #6
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To clarify the difference regarding trailer-only manual braking between the two based on my experience currently having one of each in two different vehicles (YMMV):

Tekonsha Prodigy - manual braking is applied from zero-to-max, depending on how far one moves the linear lever which has a nice amount of span for nuanced modulation. This has no effect on your 'normal' settings, they are retained when you release the manual braking lever (the Tekonsha has other knobs for other settings / functions).

Redarc Tow Pro Elite - manual braking is applied at a low factory-preset level when the 'gain knob' is pushed; the rate of manual braking can also be modulated from zero-to-max by turning the 'gain knob' while it is pushed, but IME the span is a bit too narrow to allow very nuanced modulation. Then one must manually return the 'gain knob' to your 'normal' setting after the manual braking event (the Redarc has only one knob for controlling all settings / functions).

Both systems work, just the former a bit easier and more intuitive than the latter IMO.

Hope that helps.
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Old 12-03-2021, 02:56 PM   #7
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Heya Alan. Everyone has their presence of brake controllers. I started out with the prodigy controller went thru 2 of them they never worked correctly even with the trailer company working on them. Went with the Redarc and have never had an issue. Set the gain once and it’s always performed perfectly. Just my 2 cents on brake controllers. Just go with the one that works best for you. Enjoy n everyone have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ��

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Old 12-03-2021, 05:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centex View Post
I have a Tekonsha Prodigy in my 2005 F150, the Redarc Tow Pro in my 2019 Ridgeline. Both work fine, do the job, offer adjustable progressive braking.

The Tekonsha fits in a dash cubby of my older F150 so isn't hanging below the dash and is an easy reach. The Redarc with its small control knob separate from the main component box offers very 'integrated' in-dash installation options in most any vehicle (needs a dash area only about the size of a quarter).

If I were buying today and my vehicle had a convenient location for the Tekonsha Prodigy it's my preference because of the 'paddle lever' for manual braking independent of the TV (very easy and intuitive to modulate) and its info display that's easy to interpret at a glance.

The Redarc is ideal for very clean custom installation but its push-knob manual override gives a bit less operator control of the rate of independent manual braking IMO, and the lack of display means a bit less info when in use (it uses a flashing LED 'code system' to provide some info, so there's 'flash sequences' to remember and it's a bit less easy to interpret 'at a glance').

Yes, manual application of trailer brakes independent of the vehicle is a rare occurrence, but I prefer the ability to do that in an intuitive and very controlled manner when I do use it. Among other things I find it useful for testing the relative adjustment between trailer brakes on a gravel surface.

Hope that helps, Have Fun!
Your explanation of the "issues" with the Redarc were precisely the reasons why I elected to install a Prodigy P3. The instructions for the Redarc are not clear and I didn't understand that you could even increase the amount of manual brake application. They made it sound like it was one level and that was it.

My complaint with the P3 is how bright the display is at night, even when fully dimmed. For me its OK as the steering wheel is in my line of sight to the P3 so it doesn't bother me much.

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Old 12-03-2021, 05:47 PM   #9
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There are probably still some "time-based" or "non-proportional" controllers available - they're garbage. Assuming that you get a proportional controller (which means that it applies trailer braking in proportion to the rate of deceleration or "how hard you're braking") it basically boils down to how the controller mounts and whether the controls and displays suit you.
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Old 12-03-2021, 06:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
..... Assuming that you get a proportional controller (which means that it applies trailer braking in proportion to the rate of deceleration or "how hard you're braking") it basically boils down to how the controller mounts and whether the controls and displays suit you.
Thanks, Brian - I used the term "progressive braking" above in reference to the Tekonsha Prodigy and Redarc - too late to edit but my term is incorrect - it should have been "proportional braking" as you say.
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Old 12-03-2021, 07:19 PM   #11
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Great info guys, once again thanks to everyone for chiming in on this. Seems most everyone here is happy with the Tekonsha. I may just go with that.
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Old 12-03-2021, 08:11 PM   #12
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Ford uses the Redarc with a box to allow it to work with AEB in the 2019+ Ranger. Itís what I use in the Ranger. In my old Chevy 2500 I installed the P3. I prefer the Prodigy, but it doesnít work with the AEB in the Ranger; however, it works without the AEB. The Redarc looks better, but I could care less and prefer the ease of using the P3. Some people care about appearance.
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Old 12-04-2021, 01:15 PM   #13
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We have used a Tekonsha P3 in both our Toyota Tacoma and now our Ford Ranger. This unit has worked really well for us and with the Ford Ranger it was super easy to hook up due to it being already prewired, unlike the old Tacoma. Also, when not in use I just disconnect it and put it in its storage pouch.
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Old 12-04-2021, 01:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffreyG View Post
I like newer trucks with the built in controllers best.



For a wired controller, I like a Tekonsha Prodigy.
Do you know if built-in controllers take advantage of any additional sensor info on the canbus for better performance than aftermarket units?

I’m thinking specifically of brake line pressure or maybe a brake pedal position sensor. There used to be at least one aftermarket control that used a brake line pressure sensor. Presumably it took that measurement, applied a gain, and passed it on to the electric trailer brakes. Always thought that such a control would give better performance than one inferring braking from an accelerometer.
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Old 12-04-2021, 02:30 PM   #15
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I've heard the Ford integral brake controllers are tied into the ABS and stability/traction control systems.
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:02 PM   #16
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The Ford version of the Redarc in the Ranger integrates with the automatic emergency braking, which is why I chose it. My P3 works fine, but does not integrate into any of the electronics. I prefer the P3 operation and wiring is in place with the tow package to hook it up. The Ford version of the Redarc includes a box from Lumen and wires into the third brake light, so itís kind of a pain to install.
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:06 PM   #17
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I've heard the Ford integral brake controllers are tied into the ABS and stability/traction control systems.
It seems like a no-brainer that they should do this, but it should then result in trailer brakes being activated independently of the TV to improve stability or to aid in sway mitigation. Maybe they do and I just havenít heard that that was the case yet.
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:15 PM   #18
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... I’m thinking specifically of brake line pressure or maybe a brake pedal position sensor. ...
Neither of those can directly account for traction at the road surface (actual braking effect); an indirect 'best guess algorithm' would be required to utilize that data meaningfully. An accelerometer on the other hand provides a direct indication of actual real-time braking effect for an easy and accurate feedback response.

OE controllers certainly utilize input from the vehicle's already existing accelerometers, quite likely with other inputs/algorithms relating to stability/traction control systems as suggested by John in Santa Cruz (I've read similar but don't have links handy).

Trailers with wheel-rotation sensors providing feedback to a brake controller capable of activating individual wheel braking would be the ideal dream, allowing full ABS/stability control integration, but we're not there yet in the RV world.
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Old 12-04-2021, 03:32 PM   #19
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Not ABS, but a step toward electronic sway control:

https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist.../LC380605.html
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Old 12-04-2021, 04:32 PM   #20
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Neither of those can directly account for traction at the road surface (actual braking effect); an indirect 'best guess algorithm' would be required to utilize that data meaningfully. An accelerometer on the other hand provides a direct indication of actual real-time braking effect for an easy and accurate feedback response.
My experience with our Tekonsha Prodigy is that the gain that works best for hard braking is not the same as the gain that works best for light braking. The boost setting seems to be a kludge to try to address this. With my settings it is most noticeable in the transition between harder braking and light braking where IMO the trailer begins to overbrake. What I think is happening is that the control begins to respond more to deceleration from the trailer braking than from the TV braking (so an undesirable feedback loop).

The problem with using an accelerometer is that it doesn't know what is causing the deceleration - yes the control knows the brakes are activated, but that's it. The amount of deceleration it's responding to could be more due to trailer brakes, or slush, or loose gravel. The tekonsha isn't terrible but I think there is room for improvement which is why I asked about the OEM units which will have the most information available for the trailer brake control algorithm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Centex View Post
Trailers with wheel-rotation sensors providing feedback to a brake controller capable of activating individual wheel braking would be the ideal dream, allowing full ABS/stability control integration, but we're not there yet in the RV world.
This would indeed be awesome!
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