This industry has experienced and is still experiencing mind-blowing growth especially as more people are becoming inspired by food and willing to bring their own recipes and creativity to the streets.
Nevertheless, starting and operating this business is not a walk in the park, particularly since there are so many things to take into account, from the format of the truck to water supply, storage, workspace, and of course, power requirements.
Food trucks tend to need a lot of power to ensure that their many appliances can function appropriately. Ideally, there are three major power sources that food trucks use, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Portable diesel generators are without doubt the most prevalent source of power for food trucks and they are known to be quite affordable and durable enough to withstand long periods of continuous use.
Aside from using gas or diesel generators which are portable yet powerful, some food trucks will use inverter generators, solar panels, propane tanks, and even the engine of the food truck itself for some appliances.
Keep in mind that these are all good options; however, some are better than others. You have to realize that no power entails no food, and no food translates to no business.
Other Power Sources Used by Food Trucks
Liquefied Petroleum Gas
You will find that a good number of food trucks tend to depend on gas-powered equipment like grills, griddles, and cast iron burners.
Owing to that, they will have to connect to a propane gas cylinder. And truth be told, nothing does this better than Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). Aside from being a low-carbon fossil fuel, LPG is exceptional for the environment.
It burns clean and is also significantly cheaper than petrol. Howbeit, its only disadvantage is that the cylinders tend to be heavy and, as such, less mobile. They also produce less power than petrol generators.
The cost of propane tanks will depend on where you live. Nevertheless, you should budget around $100-$200 or more depending on the size, the state of the market, and local demand coupled with the mix of gas.
Although not popularly used like diesel generators or LPG Tanks, solar power is gradually gaining attention as a viable option for powering food trucks.
It is also becoming a better option especially since it is both renewable and extremely eco-friendly. To leverage this power source, a solar panel would have to be mounted on the food truck’s roof where it can get enough UV rays during the day.
The power is afterward stored in a battery and used to power your food truck’s electrical appliances. This power source is known to have lower maintenance costs and is easy to operate.
Its disadvantages are that it is dependent on sunlight, and thus it won’t be as efficient in cloudy or rainy regions. The panels also cost so much to purchase and will take up a lot of space on your truck.
It costs you around $3,000 and $10,000 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to install a solar panel. This entails that if you intend to generate enough energy to power a standard home, you’ll have to invest anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000.
Although your food truck won’t really need that much power, keep in mind that the cost of purchasing solar panels can still be quite expensive.
Which Power Source is Best for Food Trucks?
One thing to understand is that there are no direct or generally accepted answers to the above question, especially since it will have to depend on what you want out of a power source.
If you want to get something cheap and reliable then propane is without doubt your ideal choice. But if you prefer something eco-friendly and sustainable then solar panels are the route to take.
You can choose to use an inverter or portable generator as a formidable backup option. Although the maintenance for solar panels is very cheap after the initial upfront cost, solar power may be unreliable and may not always be able to provide you with enough power.
But for food truckers with the means and capacity, using these different options ensures that you can relish the benefits of all of them and offset their key weaknesses.
For basic operations, such as running small equipment like blenders and fridges, you might very well prefer a generator with a minimum of 3000 watts or 25 amps.
This will prove to be adequate if you are supplementing electrical power with a lot of LPG-powered equipment. If your truck runs primarily on electrical appliances, it is recommended you opt for a bigger generator with more power. This should be anywhere around 5000 and 7000 watts.