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Benefits of Upgrading your Trailer from Hydraulic Surge Brakes to Electric Brakes


If you own a Felling Trailer with Hydraulic Surge Brakes, you may be wondering what the advantage would be to upgrading your brake system to electric brakes, and if it is even possible. There are many advantages to installing an electric brake system on your trailer, and changing out the system is relatively simple (Read How to Change a Trailer Equipped with Hydraulic Surge brakes to an Electric Brake system).

Hydraulic Surge Brakes vs. Electric Brakes

  • Electric brake systemLower Parts Cost – Parts Replacement of wear parts is lower for electric breaks. For Instance, replacement on a FT-10 I, of a 6K 12″ x2″ Complete Hydraulic Brake Backer is $96.95 vs a 6K 12″ x2″ Electric Self Adjust Complete Brake Backer is $61.95 (see Felling Trailers Part pricing here).
  • Less Maintenance – Hydraulic Brake trailer owners must maintain brake lines from corrosion, maintain hydraulic actuator, and brake assemblies.
  • Easy Installation – Most trucks, vans, SUVs and RVs made since the mid-1990s are set up to use an electronic trailer brake controller. These vehicles include a factory-installed “quick plug” under the dash that connects with a standard brake controller. Many pickup trucks made in the last 5 years even include a brake controller built in to the dashboard, and absolutely no installation is required.

How Electric Brakes Work

Electric Brakes provide additional ease of use and additional braking control. Electric brakes are more simple than surge brakes, but they require a brake controller in the cabin of the tow vehicle. Electric brakes use electromagnets to actuate the drum brakes, and you control the electricity to the brakes with the brake controller and the brake light circuit on your vehicle. Electric brakes work very well when adjusted properly, and you can also reach over with your hand and use the brake controller to apply a small amount of braking force if the trailer begins swaying. That’s handy when descending hills, in high winds, and when you’re being passed by large 18-wheelers.

How Hydraulic Surge Brakes Work

In contrast, Surge Brakes are hydraulic, and use the trailer’s natural momentum to actuate the brakes. When you step on the brake in your tow vehicle and slow down, the trailer pushes against the hitch and presses a hydraulic cylinder. The more you slow down the vehicle, the more pressure on the trailer brakes. When they are adjusted properly, surge brakes are smooth and easy to work with. The downside is that you cannot separately actuate the trailer brakes if the trailer is swaying.

Do you have more questions about Hydraulic Surge Brakes, Electric Brakes, or other Felling Trailers products? Contact us at 1-888-335-5464 or fill out this simple form so we can help.


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