If you use use a manually-operated handle to crank the tongue jack of your travel trailer up and down, you might have found yourself wondering why no one has invented an electric trailer jack that works with the push of a button.
Well, it just so happens that electric jacks are indeed a thing, and today’s post is a look at how they work and whether or not they’re worth the investment.
We’ll look at various electric jack features such as weather resistance, automatic thermal protection, and LED lighting, and we’ll check out their lifting capacity.
In the end, only you can determine whether electric trailer jacks are the best option for you, but this post will give you some details to make that decision.
- 1) What Is an Electric Trailer Jack?
- 2) Do You Need a Battery For an Electric Trailer Jack?
- 3) Pros & Cons of an Electric Trailer Jack
- 4) How Do You Operate an Electric Trailer Jack?
- 5) How Do I Know What Weight Capacity My Trailer Jack Should Be?
- 6) What Is a Good Electric Trailer Jack?
- 7) Are Electric Trailer Jacks Worth It?
- 8) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
What Is an Electric Trailer Jack?
A trailer jack, whether electric or manual, is mounted on the tongue of a trailer and is used to raise and lower the front of the travel trailer (or any trailer).
The ability to raise and lower the front of a travel trailer is what enables you to level a travel trailer from front to back, and also to connect and disconnect from your tow vehicle.
You can certainly use a manual (hand-crank) jack to raise and lower the trailer tongue. For many owners of lighter travel trailers, this may be just fine.
The real difference between manual and electric jacks is that an electric model operates with the push of a button, requiring far less (or no) work. It will lower the jack foot to the ground and lift the front of the trailer effortlessly.
With an electric trailer jack, you simply push a button and allow the electric motor to do all the work.
Do You Need a Battery For an Electric Trailer Jack?
Yes. An electric trailer jack operates on 12V battery power.
While a manual trailer jack uses “RVer power” to raise and lower the trailer’s tongue, electric trailer jacks have a switch that you can flip to do it. The motor of an electric jack of course requires electricity!
That electrical power comes from a 12-volt battery. In the case of a travel trailer, that battery is generally onboard the trailer itself (the “house” battery).
Important side note: If the house batteries in your travel trailer are set up to be charged by your tow vehicle while you drive, you may need to unplug the 7-pin trailer plug when you arrive at your campsite.
Otherwise, it could continue to drain power from your tow vehicle’s battery as it continues to charge your trailer batteries.
To remove the risk of finding yourself with a dead tow vehicle battery, disconnect your 7-way plug when you arrive at your camping destination.
Pros & Cons of an Electric Trailer Jack
An electric jack is easier to use but can be a little bit more difficult to install. Of course, if you’re considering upgrading to an electric jack because you already have a manual one, there’s zero effort or cost to leave your trailer the way it is.
Speaking of cost, electric jacks are more expensive than manual jacks and require 12V power to operate.
If an electric jack motor were to fail, or your 12V battery source couldn’t supply power to it, you’d still need to hand-crank the jack… if that’s even an option.
A manual jack is less expensive and doesn’t require 12V power, but it does require physical exertion to operate.
Basically, a manual jack requires some physical work that an electric jack does not. This may be a factor for those with limited hand strength or physical disability.
When you get right down to it, the only significant difference between the electric vs manual jack is the power source. One requires 12V DC power to operate and the other requires physical power to operate.
How Do You Operate an Electric Trailer Jack?
Operating an electric jack simply requires the push of a button or the flip of a toggle switch. Some electric jacks even come with remote controls so you can operate them from a position away from the tongue. Either way, the operation of an electric trailer jack is certainly very easy.
For a visual perspective, check out this video in which a representative of Lippert’s Technical Institute demonstrates how to install, operate, and maintain their electric/power tongue jack.
How Do I Know What Weight Capacity My Trailer Jack Should Be?
This is an important question!
The answer depends, of course, on how much weight your jack will be lifting. So the tongue weight of your travel trailer is the key factor in determining the required weight capacity of your jack.
How to Determine Tongue Weight
Whether you have a manual or electric trailer jack, it needs to be capable of lifting the front/tongue of your travel trailer.
Tongue weight, (sometimes called “hitch weight”, or in the case of a 5th wheel, “pin weight”), is the downward force the trailer/5th wheel applies to the hitch on the vehicle towing it.
In our post, “What Is Tongue Weight?“, we review how to determine the tongue weight of your trailer.
Essentially, you take the weight of your tow vehicle alone and subtract it from the weight of your tow vehicle with the trailer attached. (See our article linked in the paragraph above for more details.)
You can also use a tongue weight scale.
- 1 Year Manufacturers Warranty (certain items exempt)
- Made in the USA
For a more technical view of how to determine tongue weight, you can check out this article from Curt Manufacturing on how to measure tongue weight.
What If I Have a Weight Distribution Hitch?
If you’ve got a weight distribution hitch with spring arms, your jack will also need to lift some of the weight of the rear of your tow vehicle to bring the spring arms onto the brackets. It’s always best to overestimate rather than underestimate.
What Is a Good Electric Trailer Jack?
Let’s take a look at 5 electric trailer jacks to give you an idea of features and cost for various choices.
Quick Products JQ-3500B Power A-Frame Electric Tongue Jack
This is a budget electric jack that gets very good reviews, though some people mention that it operates very slowly. (Some say even more slowly than a hand-crank jack!) That said, most say it’s well worth having when compared to a manual jack.
Note that this electric trailer jack has a weight capacity of 3,650 pounds. It has a standard 2.25″ post diameter which should fit nicely into standard jack holes.
The heavy-duty steel gears are tucked under a protective plastic housing.
Features include a manual crank override, bubble level cap, LED work light, a heavy-duty weatherproof vinyl cover, and a 1-year warranty.
- The JQ-3500 electric tongue jack boasts a maximum lift capacity 3,650 lbs.
- 2.25" post diameter is the standard tongue jack size, making it easy to install into existing jack mounting holes
Lippert 285318 Power Tongue Jack
This electric trailer jack for A-frame trailers has a 3,500 lb. lifting capacity. Its 12V motor uses about 30 amps of power.
The jack is made of heavy-gauge steel with a powder-coated finish. A textured plastic housing protects the electronics.
Integrated LED lights shine on the ball and coupler for easy night operation.
The kit includes mounting hardware, pins, and a manual crank handle.
- EASY INSTALLATION — Complete with all necessary hardware and pins, installation for the Power Tongue Jack is fast and simple, so you can get to...
- TIME-SAVING — Say goodbye to cranking your manual jack. With the push of a button, you can raise or lower your a-frame trailer in a fraction of the...
Uriah Products UC500010 Electric Trailer Jack
This jack has a 5,000-pound capacity and a built-in 7-way connector for easy plug-in.
The 7-way connector has a plastic housing to keep it in place when not in use. (Keep in mind that you may need to disconnect the 7-pin connector to keep from draining your tow vehicle’s battery.)
This jack has a water-resistant motor protected by a one-piece plastic housing and an oversized adjustable footpad for improved stability.
A bright LED light rounds out the features of this heavy-duty 5,000-pound-capacity jack that is also available from Uriah in lower-weight capacities.
- Lift range: 9" to 31.5" (including 4.5" Drop leg) 18" travel height.Up to 5000 lbs towing capacity, do not exceed maximum weight
- Easy to use switch for raising and lowering trailer
Husky 82022 Super Brute
Now we’re getting into the more expensive, feature-rich electric trailer jacks including this 5,000-pound-capacity jack from Husky with remote control.
It has weather-protected soft-trigger switches with a backlit panel and a 3-sided high-output LED light system.
The jack uses a 6′ 10-gauge power supply line and has a sleep circuit that eliminates remote power when the trailer is in storage. There’s also a “Power Alert warning system” that activates when the remote is engaged.
The jack comes with a protective storage cover, plug brackets, and two remote key fobs.
At full load, the Husky Super Brute draws about 25 amps of current.
- 5,000 lbs. lift capacity
- Full 18" stroke, weather-protected, soft-trigger switches with backlit panel, 3-sided high-output LED light system
Bulldog 500199 Powered Drive A-Frame Tongue Jack with Spring Loaded Pull Pin
This is a heavy-duty 4,000-pound capacity electric jack with an exclusive spring-loaded drop-leg pull pin that provides 22″ of total travel.
Made of alloy steel with a corrosion-resistant coating, it has an integrated gearbox and motor with protective housing. An angled built-in courtesy light illuminates the coupler.
This jack has an emergency manual override in case of power loss and includes a crank for manual operation if needed.
- Powered A-Frame Jack with heavy duty 4000 lbs. lift capacity
- Exclusive Spring Loaded Drop Leg Pull Pin provides 22" of total travel -14" travel plus 8" drop leg makes access easy, even when a weight distribution...
Are Electric Trailer Jacks Worth It?
Most travel trailer owners who’ve used manual jacks and electric jacks will tell you that electric trailer jacks are absolutely worth the investment.
As you can see from our highlighted jacks, you don’t have to break the bank for an electric jack. But there’s certainly a bit of an initial investment involved.
Our thought is that the first time you have difficulty using your manual jacks due to fatigue or physical injury you may wish you’d invested in an electric jack.
However, everyone is different and some people have very lightweight campers that are easy to use with a hand crank. And some people appreciate the exercise!
As we noted at the beginning of this post, the decision as to whether an electric jack is worthwhile can only be made by you.
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