Kristin and Jarrett Chapman run the very popular Touring Camper website and recently upgraded their towing setup to include the REDARC Tow-Pro Elite electric trailer brake controller.
This is their story.
When our family plunged into the RVing world nearly 15 years ago, we started out small with a pop-up camper that our half-ton truck barely knew was behind it. Fast-forward several years to three kids and two large dogs, and we were now driving a 12-passenger GMC Savana van and towing a 32-foot bunkhouse.
Unlike many trucks and some SUV vehicles that incorporate a braking system into the vehicle’s factory options, our van (which was really just a glorified cargo van with seats) did not come with an integrated brake controller. So the local camper dealer installed a brake controller box underneath the steering wheel—and every time we slid into the driver’s seat, our knees would remember its presence too late.
Last October it was time for us to replace the Savana, and we brought home a Nissan NV—which did not come with an integrated brake controller either. By this point, though, we had heard about REDARC and the whole new concept the company was bringing to the American brake controller market. This was exciting news for us because REDARC’s brake controller has a tiny footprint and can be integrated almost seamlessly into a vehicle’s current layout.
Jarrett installed the Tow-Pro Elite himself. It was a simple and straightforward process. The unit does not come with a harness that plugs into factory wiring, so the first step was to purchase an after-market wiring harness. Jarrett wired the Tow-Pro Elite to the harness, which could then be plugged into the vehicle’s factory wiring. (You could also wire the Tow-Pro Elite directly to the vehicle, but for us that would have meant cutting our van’s factory harness, which we didn’t want to do.)
The Tow-Pro Elite’s main unit is a small box that needs to be securely attached to the vehicle in an out-of-the-way location. Jarrett was able to install it up under the front dash—far from our knees. Score! The final step was installing the control knob, which Jarrett placed in an empty vehicle knock-out. The Tow-Pro’s universal mounting panel snapped right into the empty knock-out spot, making it a perfect fit.
On our recent RVing adventures first to South Carolina and then to Georgia we had the opportunity to test the Tow-Pro Elite while towing our 32-foot camper. Our route south from Pennsylvania took us through the rolling hills and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains, giving us the chance to really test the braking system’s potential. The results did not disappoint.
The first time we used the Tow-Pro Elite we had to get a feel for what brake level we needed to set it at for our travel trailer. This takes a bit of trial and error, but once you find the right setting, you can set it and forget it. The driver can visually confirm that a trailer is plugged correctly into the system once the unit’s knob glows blue. When the system is braking, it will glow red, getting brighter as more brake is applied.
The Tow-Pro Elite is a proportional brake controller, which means that when you step on the brake, it smoothly applies the trailer brakes as it increases the intensity until reaching the desired brake setting. After coming to a complete stop, the system then turns the trailer brakes off so that you are not prematurely wearing those brakes out.
We love that you can easily adjust the amount of brake applied by simply twisting the controller knob up or down as needed. In the event of an emergency, you can also directly apply the trailer brakes by pushing in on the knob. Whenever the knob is pushed, the system automatically turns on your trailer and vehicle brake lights, even if you didn’t apply your vehicle brakes.
While we were towing with the REDARC system we were very pleased with the smooth braking experience. The system responded immediately whenever we applied the vehicle brakes, slowing the trailer uniformly without any jerking or pushing. For RVing families like us who are towing with vehicles that don’t already come with integrated brake controller systems, the REDARC Tow-Pro Elite is an ideal solution that offers a quality braking system with no more bulky controller boxes. All that you see is a little knob with all the power. Our knees thank you REDARC, and for that we can say, “REDARC is the bee’s knees.”Take the REDARC Hilux product tour to find out what products are best for your overlanding, power management and towing needs.