Guide to Ambulance and Emergency Vehicle Connectors

Why do emergency vehicles have a power inlet?

Radios, mobile data terminals (computers which received details of emergency calls) and chargers for medical devices all consume power. As they need to remain powered up continually whenever the vehicle is in service, this creates a challenge when the vehicle is left parked without the engine running.

It is not great for an emergency vehicle to be unable able to respond due to a flat battery! Ambulances therefore have auxiliary batteries and are often fitted with a power inlet. The inlet enables the vehicle to be connected to mains power using a shoreline cable, to charge batteries and power equipment.

What's a shoreline cable?

A shoreline cable is the cable used to connect the vehicle to a source of power. It needs to have the correct vehicle connector on one end and a plug suitable for the socket that will be used at the other.

Due to the harsh environment in which shoreline cables are used, blue 'artic' cable is simply not robust enough. Our leads are constructed from black H07RN-F rubber or orange marine grade H07BQ-F rubber cable. When compared to standard PVC cable, both are incredibly tough. See our cable guide for further information. 

We only use extra thick 2.5mmsq cable. Whilst cheaper 1.5mmsq cables are available online, they do not comply with the IET Wiring Regulations (BS 7671).


What's the difference between yellow and blue?

Power inlets are coloured either yellow for 110v, or blue for 230v. Some vehicles will confusingly have two inlets, with special control gear to ensure that only one can be energised at any one time. Dual inlets are provided as ambulance services often have both 110v and 230v systems in use, as a legacy from the merger of smaller services in 2006.

Blue - 230v 

230v inlets are coloured blue and may state the American rating of 250v. They can be connected directly to mains power which is provided at 230v across the UK and Europe. Existing blue 230v power inlets can be used for motorhome conversions, providing a simple cost effective solution.

Yellow - 110v 

110v inlets are coloured yellow and may state the American rating of 115v. Lower voltage is used for increased safety. In the UK and Europe as mains power is provided at 230v, a safety isolating transformer is required to use these inlets. Particular care must be taken when selecting a suitable transformer, to ensure that it has a sufficient continual rating, as most are advertised with their intermittent rating. We provide a range of carefully selected suitable transformers here.

It is not practical to use 110v inlets for motorhome conversions, as camp site outlets are 230v. Also, the same item of equipment would use twice as much current at 110v than 230v. The vehicle inlet can be swapped for a 230v version.

 

 

What's an auto-eject?

As emergency vehicles are by their nature used in a hurry, there is a risk that the shoreline cable may not be unplugged before the vehicle drives off. Auto-eject inlets have an electromagnetic pin, which is connected to the vehicles starter motor 12/24v circuit. When the vehicle starts, the pin is forced outwards towards the connector, ejecting it. For motor homes where this function may not be desired, it can be disabled by removing the 12/24v connection.

Due to the force of the ejection pin, it is really important that only the specific high quality connectors recommend by the manufacturer are used on shoreline leads. We only stock these, as whilst more expensive they are significantly more robust than the same general type, which can shatter with the force.

The inlets also have a built in micro switch arrangement which closes the power circuit after the mating connector is inserted, and opens it before the connector is removed. This eliminates arcing at the connector contacts, prolonging the service life. 

Non-PTFE/silicone lubricant should be applied regularly to auto-eject connectors to increase their service life and reduce the likelihood of failed ejections.

How can I tell which connector the vehicle has?

The table below is provided to help identify the specific power inlet provided on a vehicle. The connector type is shown in the first column, with examples of units from the main manufacturers Kussmaul, Ludo McGurk and Antaire provided to aid identification.

Once you've determined the connector required, visit the Ambulance and Emergency Vehicle Leads and Connectors page to view a range of replacement sockets, adaptors and complete shoreline leads.

110v Inlets

Connector Type Connector Open Connector Closed Description

NEMA 5-15 110v

 

Kussmaul Super 15 Auto-eject 115v

Rated 115v 15A.

U shaped earth (top) and flat L/N pins which are vertical.

Grey surround with yellow cover.

 

NEMA 5-15 110v

LudoPlug NEMA 5-15 110v

Rated 110v 15A.

U shaped earth (top) and flat L/N pins which are vertical.

Grey surround with yellow cover. 

LudoPlug label which states connector type.

LED display of battery voltage/amps.

CEE 110v 16A

Kussmaul Super 16 Auto-eject 110v

Rated 115v 16A.

3 round pins, one of which (the earth) is larger. 

Domed yellow cover.

If unsure measure the diameter of the plug (43mm).

CEE 110v 16A

LudoPlug IEC 110V

Rated 110v 16A.

3 round pins, one of which (the earth) is larger. 

Grey surround with yellow cover. 

LudoPlug label which states connector type.

LED display of battery voltage/amps.

If unsure measure the diameter of the plug (43mm).

CEE 110v 32A

Kussmaul Super 30 Auto-eject 110v

Rated 115v 30A.

3 round pins, one of which (the earth) is larger. 

Deep surround and cover, both yellow.

If unsure measure the diameter of the plug (57mm).

Neutrik 230v 16A

Antares Vehicle Inlet 110v

Rated 110v 20A.

Smaller 22mm diameter connector.

Clear cover.

Note that both the 110v and 230v versions accept the same shoreline socket.

 

 

230v Inlets

Connector Type Connector Open Connector Closed Description
NEMA 6-15 230v

 

 

Kussmaul Super 15 Auto-eject 230v

Rated 115v 15A.

U shaped earth (top) and flat L/N pins which are horizontal.

Grey surround with blue cover.

NEMA 6-15 230v

LudoPlug NEMA 230V

Rated 230v 16A.

U shaped earth (top) and flat L/N pins which are horizontal.

Grey surround with blue cover. 

LudoPlug label which states connector type.

LED display of battery voltage/amps.

CEE 230v 16A

 

 

Kussmaul Super 16 Auto-eject 230v

Rated 115v 16A.

Domed blue cover.

3 round pins, one of which (the earth) is larger. 

If unsure measure the diameter of the plug (43mm).

CEE 230v 16A

LudoPlug IEC 230v

Rated 230v 16A.

3 round pins, one of which (the earth) is larger. 

Grey surround with blue cover. 

LudoPlug label which states connector type.

LED display of battery voltage/amps.

If unsure measure the diameter of the plug (43mm).

CEE 230v 32A

Kussmaul Super 30 Auto-eject 230v

Rated 115v 30A.

3 round pins, one of which (the earth) is larger.

Deep surround and cover, both blue.

If unsure measure the diameter of the plug (57mm).

Neutrik 230v 16A

Antares Vehicle Inlet 230v

Rated 230v 20A

Smaller 22mm diameter connector.

Clear cover.

Note that both the 110v and 230v versions accept the same shoreline socket.

 

UK Wiring Regulations

Using electricity within emergency vehicles either for their original purpose, or when converted to motorhomes vehicles requires special precautions. The latest IET Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) Eighteenth Edition Amendment 2 was published in 2022. Installations within emergency vehicles are covered within special circumstances section 717 Mobile or Transportable Units. Camp sites and motorhome/caravans are covered within special circumstances section 708 Electrical Installations in Caravan/Camping Parks and Similar Locations.