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Tow bar socket adapters: How do they work? Why are they used?

Why use a tow bar adapter?

People use tow bar plug sockets to connect the lights on their vehicle to the lighting board on their caravan, trailer or bike rack. This means that when you indicate or brake, the lights on the trailer, rack or caravan will also illuminate. This is often a legal requirement as many towed objects block the view of the lights for other road users. Sometimes the socket on your vehicle doesn’t match the plug on the trailer or caravan. In this case, a socket adapter is required.

There are different types of tow bar electrical systems and plugs. Single electrical systems only use one plug to connect the two lighting systems, whereas a car with twin electrics features two 7-pin plug sockets. Twin systems are typically used for towing older trailers and caravans. 

How do I know which adapter is right for me?

Whatever type of socket you have, there should be a suitable adapter out there for your tow bar electrical system. Here are some short descriptions of the different types of tow bar socket adapters and what they are used for:

  • ´7 to 13 pin

For example, your car may have a 7-pin socket for towing trailers, but you may need a 13-pin socket to connect it to a bicycle rack or modern caravan. It is important to note that this will only provide an extension of the 7-pin connection, so the adapter may not be able to provide interior power or additional features such as battery charging. If the caravan has a 13-pin plug, it is therefore recommended to install a tow bar with a 13-pin connection. You can tell which plug is which by simply counting the number of pins on the plug.

  • 13 to 7 pin

This is probably the most common type of socket adapter used for car tow bars. It is used for connecting a standard trailer and bike carrier with a 7-pin plug to a 13-pin electrical system. A 7-pin plug only supplies power for basic functions such as indicator lights and brake lights.

Some of the top trusted brands for tow bar accessories include Auger, VEMO, DT and Kunzer. For example, the 62400001 Kunzer Socket Adapter is a popular and reliable choice for most 7 – 13 pin applications. You can find a wide variety of adapters online at very reasonable prices. Prices typically range from £5 to £15.

  • 13 pin to twin

These adapters are normally used for detachable tow bars, as they are too compact for an ordinary twin connector. They allow you to tow an older caravan with twin electrics.

  • Twin to 13 pin

If you’ve just bought a new caravan with a 13-pin plug but have a tow bar that’s fitted with twin electrics, this is the one for you. It will ensure that the caravan lights work while it’s being towed, including the interior lighting.

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