Breakaway Switch - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-31-2014, 08:04 AM   #15
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Wendy,

A breakaway switch is a small mechanical switch mounted on the front of the trailer. When hooking up the trailer to the tow vehicle, the switch is connected to the tow vehicle by a thin steel cable.

Should the trailer 'breakaway' from the tow vehicle, the cable activates the trailer's breakaway switch causing the trailer's brakes to activate, stopping the trailer.

The breakaway switch consists of two switch contacts separated by a plastic 'plug'. One contact is connected to the positive side of the trailer battery the other contact is connected to the electric brake's activation wire.

When the trailer breaks away from the tow vehicle, typically by coming off the ball, the thin steel cable connected to the tow vehicle pulls the plastic plug as the trailer separates from the tow vehicle.. This results in the 12 volts being connected to the brakes and brake activation.
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:47 AM   #16
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Wow fascinating! Thank you Honda! I want one of those! Any suggestions for a good brand name and is this something an auto mechanic can put on or do I go to rv joint?


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Old 12-31-2014, 11:00 AM   #17
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You also have to check that your trailer brake ground wire has connection to the battery in your trailer. On my Scamp the brake coils ground wire goes to the frame so I had to make sure the battery had a good ground to the frame. When the tug separates from the trailer the breakaway switch draws power from the on board battery. Not all brake coils are wired negative to the frame some are wired to the ground on the 7 pin cable which still should be wired to the frame but you have to check to make sure you are wired battery negative to the frame when the 7 pin cable is disconnected. You will have to make sure the battery wiring to the frame can carry enough current to fully activate the brakes and not be under wired. Not all trailers are wired the same or correctly. Double check and be safe.
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:14 AM   #18
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As this has to do with safety, I would suggest having a person knowledgeable with trailer brakes and electrical systems do the install. It has to be either connected to the coach battery, via a fused line that is HOT when towing, or to the separate mini battery that some breakaway switch systems come with.


The safety chains are only a part of the system. Should you have a trailer come off of the ball and fall onto the safety chains you might not know about it immediately and the trailer will come forward and can even spin around when you hit your brakes when this happens.


For this reason the break away switch cable has to be kept short enough to activate the brakes with the safety chains still in place.


Years ago we had the thrill of a hitch ball break off of a U-Haul moving truck while towing a new boat. Before everything was stopped the trailer was buried under the truck, breaking off the tongue jack.
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:19 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by CampyTime View Post
Wow fascinating! Thank you Honda! I want one of those! Any suggestions for a good brand name and is this something an auto mechanic can put on or do I go to rv joint?


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See my post, #9 You need both the cable and the switch. Protect your investment!
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:29 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
As this has to do with safety, I would suggest having a person knowledgeable with trailer brakes and electrical systems do the install. It has to be either connected to the coach battery, via a fused line that is HOT when towing, or to the separate mini battery that some breakaway switch systems come with.


The safety chains are only a part of the system. Should you have a trailer come off of the ball and fall onto the safety chains you might not know about it immediately and the trailer will come forward and can even spin around when you hit your brakes when this happens.


For this reason the break away switch cable has to be kept short enough to activate the brakes with the safety chains still in place.


Years ago we had the thrill of a hitch ball break off of a U-Haul moving truck while towing a new boat. Before everything was stopped the trailer was buried under the truck, breaking off the tongue jack.
What would be the merit of placing a fuse in the breakaway switch line?
Would it not potentially compromise the very purpose of the switch?
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:56 AM   #21
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I'm all for adding a breakaway switch however there are actions that can be taken to reduce the chance of the hitch coming off the ball. Now when we connect up we dp the following.

I lower the trailer on to the ball and lock the trailer to the ball. I then attempt to jack the trailer off the ball by turning the jack handle a few turns. (Once you've had the trailer come off the ball these few seconds feel like a good investment.)
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:08 PM   #22
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I am of the school of thought that everything connected to the coach or TV battery should be fused. Even the airbags in TV's are usually fused.


Statistically, I am guessing that the chances of getting a short in the wire that has to run outside to the switch has a greater chance of happening than that of the safety switch ever being used. And that wire, when connected to the coach battery, if shorted out, could lead to catastrophic results up to a fire.


The RV Doctor website ( The RV Doctor: Electric Trailer Brake Maintenance ) posted this chart for current requirements:


Brake Size Amps/Magnet
7 x 1-1/4 inches 2.5
10 x 1-1/2 inches 2.5
10 x 2-1/4 inches 3.0
12 x 2 inches 3.0


I would use a fuse rated at about 2X the nominal current draw for all brakes.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:26 PM   #23
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I am of the school of thought that everything connected to the coach or TV battery should be fused. Even the airbags in TV's are usually fused.


Statistically, I am guessing that the chances of getting a short in the wire that has to run outside to the switch has a greater chance of happening than that of the safety switch ever being used. And that wire, when connected to the coach battery, if shorted out, could lead to catastrophic results up to a fire.


The RV Doctor website ( The RV Doctor: Electric Trailer Brake Maintenance ) posted this chart for current requirements:


Brake Size Amps/Magnet
7 x 1-1/4 inches 2.5
10 x 1-1/2 inches 2.5
10 x 2-1/4 inches 3.0
12 x 2 inches 3.0


I would use a fuse rated at about 2X the nominal current draw for all brakes.
We disagree.
You should not fuse the breakaway switch nor should you fuse the TV feed wire for the trailer brakes.
The latter should be wired through a breaker which automatically resets.
Your concern for safety is always laudable, especially when it is well placed.
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Old 12-31-2014, 01:22 PM   #24
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I agree that, at a minimum, a resettable circuit breaker could be acceptable on the TV side for the brake control line. My recent GM products (Sonoma, Blazer and Denali) all use a fuse for the factory installed brake line circuit.

However, on the trailer side where, between wires rubbing, and critters eating while the trailer is unattended, I would still opt for a fuse. But, as long as some protection is provided, to each their own.....
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:15 PM   #25
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I agree that, at a minimum, a resettable circuit breaker could be acceptable on the TV side for the brake control line. My recent GM products (Sonoma, Blazer and Denali) all use a fuse for the factory installed brake line circuit.

However, on the trailer side where, between wires rubbing, and critters eating while the trailer is unattended, I would still opt for a fuse. But, as long as some protection is provided, to each their own.....
No protection other than insulation is provided between the battery and the breakaway switch in a normal installation,... and breakers are indicated for brake controllers.
but as you say... to each his own!

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Old 01-01-2015, 08:25 PM   #26
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Breakaway switches should only be wired to a trailer battery, never designed to run off the vehicle.


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Old 01-01-2015, 10:02 PM   #27
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Wow fascinating! Thank you Honda! I want one of those! Any suggestions for a good brand name and is this something an auto mechanic can put on or do I go to rv joint?


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Wendy I agree with Donna the one she linked to is the best - reason its the best is it comes with a coiled cable! Many of the others do not. Having the coiled cable means you never have a dragging the cable should you forget to connect & keeps it staying up high off the ground when connected.
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Old 01-02-2015, 02:59 AM   #28
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Breakaway switches should only be wired to a trailer battery, never designed to run off the vehicle.


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You hit it right on the head Jared. It looks to me that folks are missing the forest for the trees. Breakaway switches are controlled by a pull out pin and a safety cable at the switch to automaticly apply braking power from a battery on the trailer to the trailer brakes only after the trailer has broken away from the tug. Most likely taking the electrical connection with it so you have no braking from the tug anymore which is the whole reason for this device. Maybe the simplest way of explaining it is it's two separate systems and not connected to each other. One from the tug for normal use and one for worse case use. I've never had anything break away in 50 years but you can check the breakaway by pulling the pin and trying to move the trailer. Reincerting the pin will complete the circuit again and your good to go. BTW, this circuit does not use a fuse, it's straight line wired.
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