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Mains Multipole Connectors

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Bulgin connectors

piccie of Bulgin disco connector

These 8 pin multipole connectors dominate the low cost and disco marketplace in the UK. They are rated at 5A per pin, with a total plug load of 6A. The connectors are a bit unusual in that they come in two mateable varieties, a cable connector and a chassis connector. Cable plugs do not mate with cable plugs, so extending a cable needs a coupler, a box with two chassis connectors on it. Either connector can be the source or load end.

The biggest nightmare is that there are a number of different wiring schemes adopted by various manufacturers, making the interconnection of differing equipment problemsome. Fortunately the earth pin is separate from the power pins, and so it is most unlikely that misconnection will cause a shock hazard.

[Note 3]
2LinL[note 2]
6Aux1N/C[Note 1]


  1. N/C is not connected.
  2. 3 channel controllers have this pin N/C
  3. I have never, ever seen this pinout used.

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piccie of Harting connector

These 16 pin multipole connectors (sometimes known as Harting connectors, after the manufacturer) are used by a number of UK based hire companies, maybe the first being White Light, for aggregating six 2KW (240V) circuits down a single physical cable. The connector is rated at 16A per pin.

Note there are only four earth conductors, meaning that the rated capacity of the earth conductors is less than the rated capacity of the live conductors, and there is some question as the the legality of this arrangment under current IEE regulations.

1Live 1
2Live 2
3Live 3
4Live 4
5Live 5
6Live 6
9 Neutral 1
10Neutral 2
11Neutral 3
12Neutral 4
13Neutral 5
14Neutral 6

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Socapex connectors

piccie of Socapex connector

Probably the most widely used mains multicore connector, used in both the USA and the UK, used for delivering six 2KW (240V) circuits down a single physical cable.

There is a common belief that it is a good idea to common the earth conductors together in each connector; it appears that this is not permitted under the USA NEC.

1Live 1
2 Neutral 1
3Live 2
4Neutral 2
5Live 3
6Neutral 3
7Live 4
8Neutral 4
9Live 5
10Neutral 5
11Live 6
12Neutral 6
13Earth 1
14Earth 2
15Earth 3
16Earth 4
17Earth 5
18Earth 6
19[note 1]


  1. Pin 19 appears to be unused, except for Vari*Lite, who use pin 19 for the screen of the multicore. This is to reduce interference generated by the discharge lamp in the fitting. Vari*Lite reccomend you use only their cables with their fittings. The luminaires concerned are believed to be the VL6 spot and the VL5 wash units.

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