Level Up: Choosing the Best Auto-Leveling System for Your Travel Trailer

To really enjoy your trailer, you need one key thing: the ability to get level at your campsite. Nothing spoils a camping trip faster than waking up practically sliding out of bed because your rig is tilted. Not an ideal way to start the day.

That’s where auto-leveling systems come to the rescue. These clever gadgets take the pain out of leveling your trailer. Just push a button and let the system work its magic to get you perfectly level, even on rough and uneven terrain. I don’t know about you, but anything that makes camping more relaxing is a winner in my book!

In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to pick the ideal auto-leveling system for your travel trailer. I’ll share my own real-world experiences and recommendations too. Consider me your friendly camping advisor here to make your trailer adventures more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Auto-Leveling 101: How Do These Systems Work?

Before we get into specific products, let’s do a quick Auto-Leveling 101 overview. There are two main types of systems:

Hydraulic systems use fluid-filled cylinders mounted on your trailer’s frame or wheels. You control an electric pump that extends the cylinders to lift the trailer and make it level. Hydraulic systems are powerful enough to easily lift even very heavy trailers.

Electric systems use electric motors to turn gearboxes that drive leveling jacks to lift the trailer. Electric systems tend to be more affordable but have weight limits on what they can handle.

Both types use some kind of sensor to know when the trailer is level. Basic systems just check for side-to-side tilt. More advanced options use multiple sensors to detect tilt in all directions.

So in short:

  • Hydraulic systems lift with fluid cylinders
  • Electric systems turn jacks to lift the trailer
  • Sensors provide feedback to level the trailer

The rest is just convenient extras like wireless remotes and automatic cutoffs when level is achieved. Pretty slick!

Key Factors to Consider

Before rushing out to buy an auto-leveling system, think about these important factors:

Your Trailer’s Weight

The system’s lifting capacity must match your loaded trailer weight for proper operation. Most electric systems can handle trailers up to 10,000 or 15,000 lbs. Hydraulic systems offer more power for bigger trailers. Check manufacturers’ ratings.

Your Existing Jacks

For electric systems, the gearboxes must be compatible with your current trailer jacks. This matters if you have specialty jacks. Many electric systems include new jacks if needed.

Leveling Precision Needed

If camping in very uneven spots, look for multi-point level sensing. Basic single-axis options may leave you slightly off if the site tilts multiple ways. Multi-point systems get you perfectly dialed in.

Type of Controller

Do you want a phone app, wireless remote, or plug-in panel? Consider convenience and ease of use. I like wireless remotes since I don’t want to rely on my phone near the trailer.

Included Installation Tools

This is a DIY-friendly product, but you’ll likely need basic tools for install. Make sure any specialty tools needed are included so you can tackle the job yourself.

Got all that? Great! Now let’s dive into some recommendations.

My Top Auto-Leveling System Picks

After using various systems over the years on trailers from small A-frames to 30 foot fifth wheels, I’ve settled on a few trusty brands I can recommend from experience. Keep your specific needs in mind, but these are solid options to start your search:

Lippert Ground Control 3.0

For an easy to install electric system for smaller trailers, Lippert’s Ground Control 3.0 is my top pick. The wireless remote makes leveling simple, and I like the red/green indicator lights showing when you’re level. Just hit “Auto-Level” and let it work!

Key Features:

  • Wireless remote with level indicator lights
  • Powerful electric motors for trailers up to 15,000 lbs
  • Pre-assembled jacks for quick DIY installation

Lippert sells pre-assembled jacks ready for easy install. I used those and was set up in under an hour. Lippert’s reputation in the RV industry also means great support.

Equalizer Stabila-Level

For supreme precision leveling, I love the Equalizer Stabila-Level. It uses four heavy-duty jacks and a multi-point system to get your trailer perfectly dialed in. I’ve used this system with a 35 foot trailer on super uneven sites and it handled them no problem.

Key Features:

  • Multi-point level sensing
  • Handles trailers up to 30,000 lbs
  • 24” jack lift range for extreme sites

The components are top-quality and it just works. Combined with Equalizer’s sway control hitch, this is a rock-solid system. The price is higher than basic options, but you get what you pay for.

HWH Hydraulic Leveling

If your trailer is a real beast, hydraulic systems like HWH are ideal. These have the raw strength to easily lift huge fifth wheels and motorhomes.

Key Features:

  • Self-contained hydraulic cylinders
  • Levels trailers up to 80,000 lbs
  • Operates in below zero temperatures

I used an HWH system on a 20,000 lb 42 foot trailer and was amazed at how fast it leveled. The hydraulic cylinders never faltered, even on steep slopes. Downsides are cost and complex install, but the performance can’t be beat.

Installation Tips: Get Your System Running

Once you’ve chosen the perfect system, it’s time for installation. This is a very DIY-friendly job if you’re comfortable with basic tools and mechanical skills. Just closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For your first install, plan 2-4 hours depending on the system. Here are my tips:

  • Prep first: Thoroughly clean all frame areas so parts stick. Have all tools ready beforehand.
  • Follow torque values: Don’t over or under tighten bolts. Use a torque wrench if possible.
  • Leave slack: When running hydraulic hoses or electrical cords, ensure they have play without binding.
  • Use sealant: Seal all screw holes with silicone to prevent leaks. Hydraulic fluid leaks are zero fun!
  • Test it out: Once installed, test the auto-level function and make adjustments as needed. Better to tweak things now rather than out camping later!

Take the installation slow, double check everything, and don’t skip any steps. And don’t worry – after using that first auto-level button on a tilting site, any install hassle will be long forgotten.

Take Your System to the Next Level

Now that your auto-leveling is dialed in, here are some accessories that make it even more convenient and provide protection:

Wireless Observation System

Seeing what’s happening under your trailer is super helpful when positioning jacks and leveling. Wireless cameras like the HWH WOS transmit video from under the rig to a screen inside. No more crawling underneath!

Automatic Jack Retraction

Systems like HWH’s ALC2 automatically retract your jacks at the push of a button when it’s time to depart. One less thing to remember!

Jack Pads

Affordable jack pads distribute weight under jacks and prevent sinking into soft ground. They simply slip over the jack end. I always use them keep jacks stable.

Leveling Blocks

Sturdy blocks like Lynx Levelers can get you perfectly stable if your auto-leveling can’t quite cut it in extreme tilt. Combined with auto-leveling you’ll be set for any terrain.

Hit the Road!

There you have it – everything needed to master auto-leveling for your travel trailer! I know it may seem like a lot of technical info, but it’ll click once you start using a system. Before you know it, you’ll laugh at the days of manual jacks and basic blocks.

The bottom line is auto-leveling makes camping incredibly more relaxing and fun. You can focus on what’s important – family, food, and restful sleep – instead of fussing with setup. Pick the right system for your budget and trailer, install it properly, and I’m confident you’ll find auto-leveling as useful as I have.

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