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How to Make a Food Truck Solar Powered [Cost Included]

Can a food truck be powered by solar panels? The answer is YES. Here is a detailed guide on how to make a food truck solar powered and how much it cost.

The world Eco-friendly trends are now moving to food trucks to save costs with renewable and provide earth-friendly food services. A lot of restaurants and cafés are becoming environmentally inclined or ‘green’; so are food trucks in the united states.

Some chefs want to do more than select a menu with food that is local, healthy and sustainably grown. They are also looking at energy efficiency.

+Note that all food trucks have a power cord that ties to utility, called ishore power. To be mobile, food trucks more or less have fossil fuel generators to supply power while on the move or stationed at a remote site. Solar energy is another trending possible source of power.

Can a Food Truck Be Powered By Solar Panels?

Solar-electric modules or photovoltaic (PV) can be mounted to the roof, partially or completely powering food truck kitchens. The viability of applying PV depends of the type of food being offered and the size of the kitchen. In any case, solar can meet many of the energy requirements of a typical food truck.

A lot of food truck vendors have discovered this, and are presently taking their food job to the next level by using solar power. In the United States, food trucks with solar power are currently topping the league for several different reasons. For instance, an average food truck owner operating on a traditional generator spends a minimum of $5 to $10 daily on fuel.

There is also cost, labour and hassle in maintaining a generator. However, the cost of replacement or repairing generators down the line can be more expensive than installing solar panels. For a food truck operating 50 hours a week, the time for pay back can be as short as 9 months.

Additionally, since most food trucks operate a diesel or gasoline generator that is specifically designed to run only a few hours, operators tend to run them at a stretch of up to 14 hours, resulting in a high output of greenhouse-gas emissions, particulate matter, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide. And the worst pollutant is Noise!

Considering the harmful effects, and the way solar power can offset operating costs, it is not hard to understand why food trucks are shifting to solar.

3 Factors to Consider When Making your Food Truck Solar Powered

Over the years, renewable energy has become increasingly affordable and practical for use in the food industry. It simply means that mobile food truck owners that want to leverage more environmentally – friendly power have more options now than ever before.

However, note that while the progress of renewable technologies, especially solar energy, has been on nitro in recent years, it is still mostly used as a supplemental source of energy for most food truck owners that use it. According to experts, even if you install solar panels on top of your truck to capture energy, it is advisable you install a generator as well.

Note that this insures you have a backup energy source in case of emergencies. There is nothing as bad as experiencing a power outage when there is a long line of customers waiting for you. Below are some basic considerations to keep in mind if you are trying to operate a truck with 100 percent solar energy.

1. Consider Your Food Menu

Note that some menu concepts require less energy than others so the menu you choose plays a key role in determining how much power you will need to generate from the sun. For instance, a coffee truck needs a lot of electricity.

The key reason for this huge demand for electricity is the amount of equipment that is installed on these units like coffee makers, blenders, and espresso machines. On the other hand, there are food concepts that make harnessing solar energy more advisable. An example is a Pizza Truck.

With this renewable affordable energy, a pizza truck is able to operate a refrigerator, pumps, hot water heater and lights. If you install a wood-fire pizza oven on the truck, there maybe no need for electricity to power the cooking equipment.

So, if you plan to use solar power primarily in your truck, a pizza truck is a good approach from a power perspective assuming you want a wood fire pizza oven.

2. Know the Amount of Electricity You Require

To properly figure out how much electric power your food truck will need, you need to start by listing each piece of equipment you plan to use on the truck. You can begin by creating a list of all the cooking equipment: refrigerators, griddles, microwave, and coffee maker. Don’t stop at just cooking equipment, however.

You will also need to list anything requiring electricity like the air conditioning unit, stereo, lights, television or digital menu. Don’t forget that each piece of equipment will require a certain amount of wattage to work. The more equipment you add to your vehicle the greater the electrical demands will be.

Extra considerations that must be calculated include how long you plan to run the vehicle per day. If you plan to run your food truck for four hours per day, you will need a lot less capacity than if you plan to serve at all-day events like fairs where you could be serving for 10+ hours.

Additionally, some cooking equipment will need a certain surge of extra energy when starting up so you always want to have more available power than you actually need. These are factors manufacturers with less experience frequently don’t take into consideration.

How Much It Cost to Make a Food Truck Solar Powered?

In summary, it is advisable you still install a generator with a food truck and make sure there is an easy way to plug-into another electrical source. Sooner or later you will be thankful you have the flexibility to power the unit in different ways.

You should also consider the cost of installing solar panels on a food truck. This exercise will require additional initial costs that could range from an additional $3,000 – $10,000 in the overall cost of the vehicle.

Note that the additional start-up cost is something to be aware of while you are in the planning phase of your business. Indeed, these costs will surely go down as technology improves in the future, but right now they can add an extra 5% – 10% to the total cost of a food truck build.