I'm on the step of doing all my tow-related wiring. I've purchased my 7-pin setup with junction box, and wiring and connectors and stuff like that.
My trailer has brakes. Should I get a breakaway kit, or is it overkill for a sub-2,000 lb. trailer? If so, I'm not sure how the battery situation works. From what I see, I either wire it to my trailer's battery, or get some sort of stand-alone kit. I have the ability to have a battery, but wasn't planning on getting one any time soon, we plan to use shore power exclusively (we're used to tent camping, so we don't mind using a propane stove and battery lights if necessary).
So, I'm assuming I need a stand-alone kit. I've read one that says it charges its own battery off your tow vehicle. If I got one of these, does it wire to the auxiliary wire in the plug?
Should I get the stand-alone kit, or is it better to get a house battery and use that?
Which came first the chicken or the egg? You ask a very good question that people have been arguing about for years and I can give you very good reasons to go one way over the other then reverse myself and give you just as many reasons to go the other way. The most important thing is you must have a battery with enough capacity to properly apply the brakes long enough to stop the trailer. A break away switch is required when the trailer is heavy enough to require brakes, but in my personal opinion any trailer I own with breaks should have a break away switch for the following reasons if it should become detached the sooner it stops the less chance of damage to the trailer or more importantly the better the chance of someone not being injured or killed by a runaway trailer. NO MATTER WHAT BATTERY SETUP YOU USE IT ONLY WORKS IF YOU KEEP THE BATTERY CHARGED.
When I come across a topic like this (no obvious superior product choice), my personal conclusion is usually that both are fine, which is good to know. Since I'm not sure if we'll have a house battery 100% of the time, I'll go with that stand-alone option. The one I found self-charges from the tow vehicle, and has an LED indicator showing the battery status.
... in my personal opinion any trailer I own with breaks should have a break away switch for the following reasons if it should become detached the sooner it stops the less chance of damage to the trailer or more importantly the better the chance of someone not being injured or killed by a runaway trailer.
As I could be the person in the lane it is coming at, I wish all trailers had breakaway brakes!
I live on a huge lake with lots of boats being towed all the time. I see a dozen most every day. It is rare one comes loose but when they do they can travel A LONG WAYS!
If you have a battery in the trailer it is very easy to have the car charge it and it wouldn't take much of a battery to hold on the brakes long enough to stop it. I cast my vote for them.
Breakaway system with built-in charger is designed to bring a trailer safely to a stop by activating its electric brakes should it become disconnected while being towed. Push-button tester lets you know if the rechargeable battery is fully charged.
Breakaway system activates your trailer's electric brakes if the trailer disconnects from the tow vehicle
Push-to-test battery feature offers fast and easy battery testing
Test button with LED lights clearly displays battery status
Green = charged
Yellow = charging
Red = low battery
Built-in charger automatically refuels battery while trailer is connected to tow vehicle
Charges at 1/2 volt below voltage supplied by tow vehicle to prevent over-charging
Shut-off feature activates when battery is fully charged
Side-loading case is easy to access from the side
Weather-resistant construction protects battery from moisture and debris
Self-tapping screws included for simple mounting on your trailer's frame
Lockable lid deters theft (padlock sold separately)
Breakaway switch installs on your trailer's frame - drilling is required
Since you are replacing your trailer light wiring as well, you may want to consider wiring the trailer brake lamps in parallel to the switched side of your break away system. That way if the trailer does disconnect then the trailer brake lamps will come on as well. This may save your trailer from getting rear ended by a following vehicle. I am not sure but it may be possible that the break away systems when engaged are full on brakes. That means your trailer will likely skid to a stop and real fast.
However, if I simply split the output wire from the breakaway switch, and have one going to the brake terminal and one going to the brake light terminal (on my 7-pin distribution block), would that then create a connection between the 2 terminals during normal operation? Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I might need a 2nd breakaway switch ($9 online, $17 local) attached to the same battery as the first, or take apart one and have 2 separate wires on the output side that do not touch when the switch is in regular towing position.
I wouldn't double up on the breakaway nor connect the brake lights into this safety circuit. It seems simple but mixing things up usually doesn't work.
The wiring on a breakaway: one wire goes to the brake hot. The other wire goes to the battery hot.
There is a "plug" in your breakaway that has a wire cable attached, which is attached to the vehicle. If the trailer should become unhitched, this plug will pull out of the breakaway box and complete a circuit to activate the brakes. Yes, they hit hard and immediately. In other words, the plug is preventing the hot battery from connecting to the brake lead. Once pulled, there is a full 12 volts to the brakes.
The above is why it's paramount to maintain and check the breakaway battery before every trip. Be sure it is in good shape.
If you hook your brake lights into the brakes every time you hit your brakes you would apply the max trailer brake which would draw more current than the brake light system was designed for causing a fuse to blow or wiring to fail. If you trailer comes loose brake lights will be the least of your worries. The only way around the above problem would be installing diodes in the wire to prevent a back feed from the brake lights.