Universal Tow Bar Electrics Explained

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When buying a tow bar a very important factor to consider is how you intend to connect the vehicle’s electrics to your trailer / caravan. Universal tow bar electrics are the most common type of tow bar electrics available.
There are 3 main types of connection: 7 pin socket (12N), twin 7 pin sockets (12N 12S), and 13 pin socket connections.
A universal 7 pin electrics kit
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A universal 7 pin electrics kit

7 pin Socket (12N)

The most common wiring socket is the 7 pin single electrics connection, which will power the lights on a trailer / lighting board. This gives the basic light function which is legally required for towing.
A universal twin electrics kit
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A universal twin electrics kit

Twin 7 pin Sockets (12N 12S)

Twin 7 pin socket connections are used when a secondary charge is also needed in addition to the standard 7 pin function. For instance if you are towing a caravan and wish to power a fridge or leisure battery during the journey.
A universal 13 pin electrics kit
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A universal 13 pin electrics kit

13 Pin Socket

13 pin electrics is the newest type of connection, whereby the single 13 pin socket has all the functionality of a twin socket connection, without the need to actually have two sockets. The 13 pin system has several advantages, including:
New standard connection for caravans
Twist and lock method of connection, removing the need to use force when connecting up your trailer, and making the connection more secure.
Just a single socket and plug needed, leaving a neater look and increased space around the tow bar
A 7 pin vehicle to 13 pin trailer adapter.
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A 7 pin vehicle to 13 pin trailer adapter.

Adapters

Due to the 7 pin, Twin, and 13 pin sockets all being in use, the situation is likely to arise whereby you need an adapter to connect a trailer a vehicle. Adapters are readily available and usually relatively cheap. Adapters are available to fit any type of socket to any type of plug, for instance 13 pin socket to 7 pin plug, or twin socket to 13 pin plug.
A TEB7AS bypass relay.
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A TEB7AS bypass relay.

Bypass Relays

The above information applies to universal wiring, which involves splicing your vehicle’s wires or cutting into the wires using scotch locks to connect the wiring. In some vehicles (particularly newer models) a bypass relay may also be required.
Please view our guide to Bypass Relays to find out more.
A 7 pin dedicated electrics kit.
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A 7 pin dedicated electrics kit.

Dedicated Electrics

There is also the option to use the more expensive, but superior dedicated electrics kits for many vehicles. Dedicated kits do not require cutting or splicing you vehicle electrics, and don’t require a bypass relay.
Please view our guide to Dedicated Electrics to find out more.
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