According to reports, most of the top-of-the-line commercial food trucks have 3 inches of polyurethane foam installed in the floor, walls and ceiling and 4 inches of polyurethane foam installed in the front wall for insulation.
Polyurethane foam is one of the most popular types of materials used as insulation and it has proven to be efficient. In the United States, the two most common materials used for food truck insulation are polystyrene and polyurethane. Polystyrene, which is also known as Styrofoam, is quite popular because of its value and simplicity of installation. It is also the less expensive option of the two.
Coupled with being waterproof, polystyrene is manufactured into large sheets or panels that can be easily modified to fit any food truck. Note that they are available in varying thicknesses with insulation values ranging from R2 to R10, and it is a great value if thickness and R values are not a limiting factor in your decision.
But polyurethane, which is a denser choice of the two, is renowned as the best insulator, but it always comes with a heftier price tag.
Polyurethane boasts of R values ranging from R10 to R17.5. Coupled with efficiently insulating your truck, polyurethane also adds support and rigidity to your truck, making it more resistant to damage. Also note that it will also decrease the noise emitted from your truck and soften the associated shaking and vibrations that come with opening and closing door or window.
The R – value of a building material measures its thermal resistance. Polyurethane demonstrates about twice the resistance to heat that polystyrene manages and is an excellent material for electrical insulation. Also note that polyurethane continues to maintain flexibility in very cold conditions, though gradual stiffening begins at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, this resistance varies according to the density and thickness of each material. According to experts, polyurethane does not melt, unlike polystyrene. In fact, polyurethane tend to remain mostly undamaged by heat until temperatures reach 700 degrees, at which point the material begins to char.
Polystyrene will melt at temperatures in the 200 – to 300 – degree range. Polyurethane makes a superior fire – retardant material.
Note that the thickness of the insulation that should be installed will be dependent on the ideal internal temperature that the truck bodies need to maintain, the type of food products the truck will be transporting, the amount of times that the doors will be opened, how the products are packaged, how air will be circulated within the truck bodies and the total weight of the food products.
Major Benefits of Using Polyurethane Foam for Insulation of Food Trucks
While polystyrene will suffer when subjected to solvents such as gasoline and certain insect sprays, polyurethane is resistant to all chemicals. This polymer also outperforms polystyrene in resisting atmospheric damage due to oxidation and sunlight.
In fact, polyurethane withstands all physical attacks and stresses better than polystyrene. Aside from that, here are the primary benefits of insulating a Food truck with polyurethane foam.
1. Improvement of Stiffness and Structural Integrity of Truck Body During Impact
Have it in mind there are two different types of polyurethane foam insulation: open – cell and closed – cell. Open – cell polyurethane foam is more aerated in comparison to closed – cell polyurethane foam; thus, it is less dense. Howbeit, if you decide to install closed – cell polyurethane foam on your commercial food trucks, which is typically the most advisable path to go, you can improve the stiffness and structural integrity of the truck bodies.
As a result, polyurethane foam insulation should be installed to all sides of the truck bodies. Also note that closed – cell polyurethane foam helps strengthen the walls, ceiling and floors of the truck bodies; thus, making them more resistant to damages during impact.
One thing is the closed – cell polyurethane foam will quickly absorb most of the impact, preventing the cargo of food products from getting damaged. This is particularly important if you are transporting food products that are fragile and can be easily crushed or crumbled.
2. Increased Efficiency By Better Maintaining and Controlling Internal Temperatures
Polyurethane foam insulation has been installed to the flooring of the commercial food trucks, so much so that it is considered as imperative as the overall energy efficiency of the trucks. Note that installing polyurethane foam insulation to the underside of the flooring helps to eliminate the heat load that is a result of rising heat from the road surfaces.
Have it in mind that asphalt pavement can reach temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, you will more or less be able to observe the heat waves that are being emitted. Polyurethane foam insulation installed to the underside of the flooring also helps to ensure that the rising heat does not transmit into the truck. This in return will help to improve the overall energy efficiency of the truck.
3. Protection from Heat Radiating Down from the Hot Metal Roof
Typically, all commercial food trucks are made up of some sort of metal. The metal roof can easily overheat and cause the internal temperatures of the commercial food trucks to rise. But by installing polyurethane foam insulation to the underside of the roofing, heat transmission is greatly limited.
Note that this type of protection is very crucial for commercial food trucks, as it prevents food products from becoming spoiled. Also note that food spoils once the temperature has increased to over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After the food products have warmed up to that temperature, there is only a 2 hour window where you can choose to either chill the food products or cook them.
Polyurethane is gradually coming to replace polystyrene in certain situations, particularly those which require more flexibility. Though they are sometime confused, there are differences between the two in terms of their composition, their ability to resist chemicals and conduct heat and their tolerance for thickness.
However, for the sake of protecting the food products and preventing them from spoiling, polyurethane foam insulation should be installed at all sides of the truck.