Food truck business is an extremely mobile kind of business, and it requires a mobile power solution. Using the trucks’ own power supplied by its battery is not nearly enough or efficient for the business to work.
Best generator for food truck business is the one that can power all the appliances inside and the fittings outside while maintaining the lowest possible noise levels packed with a big tank.
These generators usually run on gasoline, diesel or propane, and they should have a tank large enough to support all the appliances throughout the working hours.
Bear in mind that not only appliances will need the power, the signboards outside, lighting inside and decorative lights outside of the truck all need the electricity.
If you just started planning a food truck business, have in mind all the appliances you will use based on the type of food you will serve.
You might need an oven, refrigerator, freezer, toasters, fryer, dishwasher, etc. Make a list with all the appliances you might need so you can pick the best generator that will suit your needs.
Table of Contents
There are few main things you should have in mind when you’re picking the best generator for food truck.
Pay attention to these points:
All portable generators are very much alike.
You can differentiate them based on the type of fuel they use.
Based on the type of fuel, generators are split into three groups:
It’s pretty clear what makes them apart, the unique ones are generators with dual fuel system, which can use both propane and gas.
Portable generators come in all shapes and sizes. What’s important is that the bigger generator doesn’t mean more power.
You can find some pretty compact generators that offer plenty of power, choose them based on the space you have available.
But, smaller generators usually mean smaller fuel tanks.
Once you’re done with a list of appliances you will need, it’s time to calculate how much power they will need to run simultaneously. Have in mind that some of them need to run all the time, refrigerator and freezer for example.
Depending on the type of an appliance, there are two types of load/power usage:
Appliances with reactive load need more power to start but consume less when they are running. Appliances with motors are usually the ones with a reactive load.
Appliances with resistive load don’t need a lot of power to start, but they consume a lot more when they are running. These are usually appliances with heating elements like ovens, microwaves, toasters, etc.
Since you will probably be using both of these types in your truck, consider them both when choosing the right amount of power the generator can output.
All appliances should have their power consumption listed on their bottom or in the manual. What may confuse you is that usually the appliances have their power requirements listed in amperes, but generator’s power output is in watts.
To calculate how much power an appliance need in watts check the manual of the appliance and see how much volts and amperes it has.
But, how can you calculate the total power needed for all appliances when the consumption may vary from time to time?
It’s simple - just calculate the total surge power of all appliances. If the generator matches this sum, you will be safe.
It is recommended, however, that the sum you got is the minimum power output of the generator. Getting the one that has a higher power output is recommended for the long run because some appliances need more power as they age.
Check the generators specs to see how much starting and running power they have.
When you take a look at generators specs, you will see a number with the label run time.
This number represents the amount of hours the generator can run without stopping.
Take this into consideration based on the working hours of your food truck.
If you’re working long hours it’s better to pick a generator with less power, but with better run time.
Noise levels depend on the engineering of the engine of the generator.
There are no rules here, each has a different noise production, and the only thing you can do is to check its specs to see how loud it will be.
For a reference, consider anything below 60 dB pretty quiet.
Pay attention to emissions of the generator. Use a standard generator that uses gas fuel from its own tank, or get an EVAP generator.
You can find the emission details in the manual or in the detailed description of the generator.
Generators that have low emissions are better for the environment and for its close surroundings, especially for the people working nearby.
Check your area’s emission standards. If an EVAP generator is required in your area and you use a standard one, you may face a pretty large fine, up to $40000.
Food truck generator must be installed properly. It needs a larger space if you’re going to install it inside, or you can fit it into a trailer or a trunk.
Large space is required so the it has plenty of air around it to keep itself cool and to have a good airflow.
I would recommend that you put in in a separated space, trunk is a good way to go if its spacy.
Check the voltage while you’re installing it. Usually, it’s 120 or 240.
Also, make sure it’s grounded properly, if you’re not sure how to do it, it would be best that you hire a professional who will do it for you.
Make sure the airflow is good all around the food truck generator. Take this very seriously, good airflow will give improve the cooling of the generator, and it will prevent poisoning from the exhaust fumes of the people inside.
Professionals will inspect the place where you want it installed, so it doesn’t cause CO poisoning, protect it from going on fire and make sure everything is heat resistant and that is grounded properly.
Be sure to have a small fire extinguisher near the generator, just to be safe and to deal with accidents as quick as you can.
Now when we’ve learned all we need to know about power generators that are best for food trucks, let’s see what market has to offer. I’ve browsed it for a while and found several interesting options, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to compare the 5 currently popular models.
Let’s put these babies to the test, and compare them against one another, and see which one comes at the top:
1# Westinghouse WGEN7500 – Best of the best!
2# Honda 7000W – Lightweight and very quiet!
3# Briggs & Stratton 30675A Q6500 – Compact solution
4# Pulsar Products PG5250B – Versatile generator
5# Champion 3400W – Silence and versatility
I picked this power generator to be on the top of the list because it’s all-in-one kind of solution. It’s not heavy, it’s not loud, and it provides plenty of power.
It produces 9500 starting watts and 7500 while running. That is plenty of power for most food trucks. It’s not the lightest of the bunch, but it’s not too heavy as well. It weighs 192 lbs.
It’s not the loudest one, but it’s not completely quiet as well. It’s relatively quiet when you compare it to the other ones.
It can run constantly for up to 16 hours at 25% load, so you won’t have to worry are you going to run out of power in the middle of a big day.
All of this comes with a 3-year warranty and tech support for life, which is extremely convenient if you have a problem in the middle of a working day. They have a team ready to solve the problem for you.
If you need an extra quiet generator, I think this one is the best pick for that feature.
It operates at 58dB @ 23ft, and it’s the quietest of the bunch.
You would think that a generator this quiet is not going to have enough power output - well, in this case, that’s not true.
It has a 7000W of starting power and 5500W of running power, making it ideal for food trucks that want to be as quiet as possible.
Following the natural law of imperfection, this generator is not perfect, and it has a drawback. It is the heaviest of them all - it weighs 261 lbs!
Along with that, it has only a 6.5h run time at 25% load. This might be a problem if you need much more operating time.
But, if the weight and the time are not the issues for you, then this one is definitely the way to go!
It comes with a 3-year warranty, and Honda is reassuring you that the generator will last longer and it will fix any problems you might have with it.
This model is very close in performance to the previous two, but it slightly below them.
It has a power output of 6500 starting watts and 5000 running watts. While it’s not the best choice for the demanding larger food trucks, it is an excellent solution for smaller ones.
While Honda 7000w is still the quietest one, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 is very quiet as well. Its noise levels are 66dB at 23ft.
It stands out in its runtime of 14 hours. It’s a compact generator for compact food trucks that will have long working days.
All this and a 2-year warranty for consumers and 1-year commercial warranty is what you get.
This one here is a bit different food truck generator, and it can proudly be called the versatile champ!
It can run both on gas or propane, making it ideal for emergency situations when you run out of fuel.
Having a backup fuel when running a mobile business is very handy.
As for the power output, it can generate 5250 starting watts and 4750 running watts. While not the most powerful one out there, it can provide plenty of power for most standard food trucks with a couple of appliances.
It’s very lightweight, and its 115 lbs make it easy to transport it anywhere. But, the noise levels are when it comes short. It’s one of the loudest ones, generating 78dB of noise at 23ft.
It comes with a 2-year warranty and a decent customer service.
If you have a smaller truck and you don’t need a large amount of power, but want to keep the noise levels as low as possible, this little food truck generator might be the one for you!
It produces 3400 watts of starting power and 3100 running watts.
It can use both gas and propane as fuel.
With the noise levels of 59dB at 23ft, it’s in the top of the list of quiet generators.
You will be able to run it for 7.5h with gas or an amazing 14.5h on propane at 25% load.
This little champ comes with a 3-year warranty and a lifetime tech support.
That concludes my list of the best generators for food truck you can get right now.
I hope you found the generator you like!
Be sure to double check your power requirements and choose the generator you want based on that information!
If you’re not sure about setting everything up, I highly recommend that you hire a professional and be sure that everything will be working as it should, and the people working in the truck will stay safe.
Grounding is also very important! Make sure it is grounded properly!
After everything is set up, the only thing left to be done is to maintain the generator properly, and your food truck will always be ready to serve tasty meals!