Have you considered your towing electrics?

You will always need some sort of electrics with your towbar, whether you are towing a trailer, horse box, caravan, or even just a cycle carrier.


It is vital to consider how your towbar electrics are installed, especially because cars are becoming a lot more complex. 10 years ago towing electrics were simply connected to the rear lights of the car, but nowadays cars are now more modern and computer controlled, with advanced safety features, and complicated wiring systems. Towing electrics are no longer this ‘simple’ and need to be installed by trained technicians.


The 3 types of towing electrics are:

Towbar electrics options

  • – 12N also known as single,
  • – 12S combined with 12N also known as twin,
  • – and the relatively new 13 pin.

Single Electrics (12N)

  • Fitted as standard
  • Used for powering cycle carrier lights, and for powering rear lights when towing trailers or caravans.

Caravans can be towed with single electrics only, although the interior electrical functions of the caravan would not have power to them. It is recommended to have a single socket installed even if you are only towing a cycle carrier, so that a light board can be powered over the bikes.

12N Single Socket Towbar Electrics

Twin Electrics (12S)

  • Fitted in addition to single electrics if you are towing a caravan or trailer built prior to 2008.
  • Has an extra grey socket which provides power to operate interior functions of a caravan such as the fridge and lights.
  • Charges battery while towing.
  • 12s socket also has reversing lights for the caravan or trailer.

This type of socket has been replaced on caravans built after 2008 in the UK. New caravans now use the 13 pin standard socket shown below.

12S Twin Socket Towbar Electrics

13 Pin Electrics

  • European, newest style of towing socket.
  • As of September 2008, all manufactured caravans are wired up using 13 pin plugs that meet ISO11446 standards and requirements.
  • More adaptable for detachable towbars that have a spring mounting single socket plate that can be folded
    up behind the bumper so that it is not visible.
  • 13 pin electrics have a twist to lock coupling system that makes plugging in easy and also makes it a sealed watertight fitting.

The 13 pin socket is essentially the two 7 pin sockets merged in to one. This system uses one socket with 13 pins inside, instead of the traditional two separate 7 pin sockets.
13 pin sockets are also used on some vehicles especially with detachable towbars when there isn’t enough room to mount two separate sockets behind the bumper.

13 Pin Pre-wired Towbar Electrics

Read about the advantages and disadvantages for each type of towbar to help you decide which towbar fits your needs.

Not sure which electrics you need?