Almost everybody loves food truck fare because it is adjudged to be fresh, tasty and equally healthy (depending on the food in question). A lot of food trucks today set themselves apart from the crowd by offering meals that are not only fresh and healthy, but they also use eco-friendly preparation formats. As part of this, many food trucks are adopting the solar power strategy for their business.

It is a well known fact that propane, fuel and diesel generators are great pollutants, and many eco-friendly food trucks are now switching to solar power generators. Solar power generators are a great off-grid alternative power source for light and food preparation. Portable solar powered generators are adjudged to be lightweight, don’t produce any fumes nor run on fossil fuels and don’t make noise like regular portable generators.

A solar power portable generator is the only generator that is safe for an indoor area use (just like a food truck) because it does not run on fossil fuels and so does not emit any fumes. Plus, many models are a rechargeable battery without an engine so they are virtually silent generators.

Because of its lightweight feature, many solar powered generators are highly portable. However, a few heavy duty models are heavy and so not suitable for outdoor activities and road trips. Having carried out some research, it has been discovered that there is no one particular solar powered generator that can be adjudged the best.

One generator can be great for one food truck but not be efficient enough for another. For that reason, we will bring you various amazing solar generators with different sizes and capacities so you can pick out the one that best suits your food truck.

What is the Best Solar Powered Generator for Food Truck & Trailer?

1. Ecoflow River Solar Power Rechargeable Portable Power Station

One great solar power generator to use for your food truck is the Ecoflow River solar power generator. The Ecoflow River portable power station is quite powerful for a solar power generator and packs that power in a sleek and compact design. It is also a very sturdy design with proven functionality in temperatures between -4° – 140° Fahrenheit.

The Ecoflow River has a capacity of 412 Wh which the manufacturers claim is enough to power light for 100 hours, a mini portable refrigerator for 10 hours and fully charges laptops at least 5 times and mobile phones at least 30 times. You can connect these appliances using any of the 11 outlets including AC, DC and CIG outlets and USB ports.

Above the electrical outlets is an informative LCD screen showing battery level, how much longer it can run and its power output. It is very lightweight for how much power it has and also nicely portable with its carrying handle. The power station is compatible with the Ecoflow Solar Panel Charger but this is sold separately.

2. Audew High Capacity Portable Battery Power Station

The Audew portable power station is another solar powered generator to look out for. It has a high capacity of 60,000 mAh. This rechargeable battery can fully charge with any 50 watt or 100 watt solar panel in 8 hours but it can also be plugged into a regular wall outlet or car outlet.

This portable solar generator has enough power for running a car refrigerator for 5 hours, a desk fan for 8 hours and fully recharges smartphones and laptops several times. It does not have amazing power for a solar powered generator but it is enough for the basic electrical devices.

This very portable model is also pre-installed with an intelligent battery management system (BMS) that controls temperature and voltage. A final unique feature is that the AC outlets is a universal plug so it can connect to devices designed for anywhere in the world.

3. HomeGrid 5000HD Portable Solar Generator

Moving on to the most powerful portable solar power generator; the HomeGrid 5000HD. This big solar power generator was designed as food truck generator which is why it carries so much power. Its 5000 watts of running power is enough to run a variety of household appliances like a refrigerator, AC unit or portable heater making it a great power source for food trucks.

The HomeGrid 5000HD is a heavy-duty portable generator that is weather resistant and designed for prolonged use. This solar powered portable generator can connect to both 120 volt and 240 volt circuits making it a perfect fit for most food trucks.

If you plan on using the HomeGrid 5000HD elsewhere, you can move it around using the trolley design wheels and pulling handle. This model can store 3700 watts of power. Its rechargeable battery is also expandable for when you want even more power for your home.

4. PAXCESS S320 100-Watt Portable Solar Power Generator

This is the lightest portable rechargeable battery and one of the best solar power generators. It is meant for light use but is an overall versatile design with both AC and DC outlets and USB ports.

The PAXCESS S320 is a very safe solar power station that is even IATA approved for air travel meaning you can carry it with you all over the world. It has a battery management system that controls voltage, current and temperature.

The PAXCESS S320 is most compatible with the PAXCESS 50 watt solar panel which only needs a connection cable for safe linking. PAXCESS recommends this rechargeable battery for CPAP machines but it should be connected to a DC converter for the longest run time.

5. Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Solar Power Station

Goal Zero Yeti is a well-respected brand in portable solar power generators. At full charge, the Goal Zero Yeti 400 can fully charge a laptop 5 times, a mobile phone 30 times and run small household appliances like a coffee maker for several hours.

You can directly connect up to 7 electrical devices to the solar power generator at the same time. There are two 120 volt AC outlets, two 2.1A USB ports and two 12 volt DC outlets and one outlet for charging the battery from the car.

The Goal Zero Yeti 400 is delivered with the Boulder 50 solar panel which is a 50 watt monocrystalline plug-and-play solar panel. The Boulder 50 solar panel can stand on its own using the detachable kickstand which you can remove for a permanent installment.

The LCD display offers useful information such as the run time, realtime input from the solar panel and real time power output. This offers insight on whether the solar panel is ideally placed and whether you should consider plugging in the generator into a home outlet for charging.

The Ecoflow River has a capacity of 412 Wh which the manufacturers claim is enough to power light for 100 hours, a mini portable refrigerator for 10 hours and fully charges laptops at least 5 times and mobile phones at least 30 times. You can connect these appliances using any of the 11 outlets including AC, DC and CIG outlets and USB ports.

Above the electrical outlets is an informative LCD screen showing battery level, how much longer it can run and its power output. It is very lightweight for how much power it has and also nicely portable with its carrying handle. The power station is compatible with the Ecoflow Solar Panel Charger but this is sold separately.

What to Look Out for in a Solar Powered Generator Before You Buy

When looking at a solar powered generator you want to buy, you need to consider what specific power requirements you need for your food truck. Considerations include how many appliances you’ll be running, if you want to run an AC unit, and if you need to run items such as lights and themed decor.

It is estimated that you will need at least 2900 watts of power to run everything in your food truck. There are two different kinds of electric load types, resistive loads and reactive loads. Resistive loads are electronics that take the same amount of power to run as they do to startup, things such as:

Reactive loads need more power on the initial startup, but once they begin running, they use less energy. A couple of examples of reactive load electronics are appliances such as:

Popular Solar Powered Food Trucks

Many food truck vendors are taking their sustainable responsibility to the next level by traveling in trucks that use solar power. Here are some of the most popular solar powered food trucks located in the United States;

i. Arlington, VA – Solar Crepes

This food truck uses local and organic food from sustainable sources. They also package their food in eco-friendly wrappers. What’s more, their food truck uses a 90-watt solar panel that produces an average 590 watt hours of power every day.

ii. Portland, OR – Off the Griddle

This portable burger joint serves up vegan and vegetarian food using natural and organic ingredients. Their cart is powered 100% by renewable energy, and the rooftop solar panels produce excess power purchased by Portland General Electric.

iii. Los Angeles, San Diego, NYC – The Green Truck

This food truck serves up regional, sustainable cuisine including vegan and vegetarian dishes. Also, any cooking oil they use powers their food trucks the next day. The Green Trucks also use solar energy to power their kitchens, giving excess energy produced back to the power grid.

iv. Nationwide – Sungevity Ice Pop Truck

While not a culinary giant, the Ice Pop Truck (by Sungevity, a solar power company) is traveling across the country giving away free organic ice pops and educating consumers on how affordable and easy investing in solar energy can be. It basically rolls to create awareness.

Many solar powered generators are actually an all-in-one portable power station with a rechargeable battery that can be charged with a solar panel, wall outlet AC supply or through a CIG port. Food trucks with solar power are presently taking a lead for several different reasons. Some of these reasons include:

Benefits of Using a Solar Powered Generator

a. They save cost

For many food truck operators solar is a cost-effective source of power. An average food truck owner operating on a traditional generator spends a minimum of $5 to $10 daily on fuel. There is also cost, labor and hassle in maintaining a generator. And the cost of replacement or repairing generators down the line can be costlier 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.

b. Reduced or zero pollution

The majority of food trucks operate on a diesel or gasoline generator that is specifically designed to run only a few hours. Operators tend to run them at a stretch for 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 usually noise.

Considering the harmful effects, and the way solar power can offset operating costs, it is not difficult to see why solar food trucks are trending to solar. Solar power is a free energy source and the only maintenance costs associated with this model is replacing the battery.

One of the greatest feature of this model is that it is chainable. This gives you more watt hours so you can run your electronics for longer hours before having to charge the unit. Plus, the compact square box-like design makes for easy stacking so carrying several batteries with you should not pose too much of a storage problem. Of course, it is also a lightweight design.

The model with the lead acid battery is more suitable for colder climates than models with a lithium battery. It is also less susceptible to issues from power surges so you can feel safer about connecting sensitive electronics like smartphones and cameras.

Finally, the battery protecting systems such as the PWM and automatic shutdown at low charge levels helps keep the battery in good condition ensuring a longer lifespan. When it is time to replace the battery, you can easily replace it yourself with another affordable lead acid unit.

Conclusion

Even though there’s been tremendous progress with solar panels and wind turbine technology in recent years, it is still recommended that you install a generator in your food truck and ensure that 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.

The other component you need to consider when considering switching to solar power is the cost of installing solar panels on a food truck. Both will require additional initial costs that could range from an additional $3,000 – $10,000 in the overall cost of the vehicle.

The additional startup cost is something to be aware while you’re in the planning phase of your business. These costs should go down as technology improves in the future, but for right now they can add an extra 5% – 10% to the total cost of a food truck build. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How To Pick The Best Generator For A Food Truck?

Here is a quick guide to choosing a portable generator for food truck owners;

  • The lever of power it produces.
  • The noise output
  • The runtime and how often are you willing to fill up your tank
  • Inverter Generator
  • Number of Outlets
  • Your Budge
  1. What Is The Best Power Source For Food Truck?

Here are the Best Generators for Food Truck;

  • Pulsar 5250W Dual Fuel Portable Generator.
  • Pulsar Dual Fuel Portable Generator.
  • Honda Eu7000is Inverter Generator.
  • Honda 7000 watt Inverter Generator.
  • Champion 3400 Watt Portable Inverter Generator.
  • Champion 3400 Watt Inverter Generator.
  1. Why Invest In A Good Generator For Your Food Truck?

The reason you should invest in a good generator for your food truck is that food trucks fully rely on electricity to run their businesses, it is absolutely imperative that your food truck has a proper generator in case something happens. Even if the venue offers a power source, there’s no guarantee that it won’t short out or sputter during the event.

  1. Where Does Food Truck Get Their Power From?

Food trucks get their power from three main sources, such as portable diesel generators, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders, and solar panels attached to the roof of the food truck.

  1. What Is The Best Generator To Run A Refrigerator Freezer?

Some of the most reliable generators when it comes to running power-hungry and essential electronics such as freezers and fridges include the following:

  • Champion 3400 Dual Fuel Inverter
  • Briggs & Stratton 30795 P4500 Power Smart Series
  • WEN 56380i
  • Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
  • Yamaha EF2000isV2
  1. What Is The Quietest Generator For A Food Truck?

The Westinghouse WGen7500 is a small but mighty portable generator that comes with an OHV engine. With 9500 peak watts and running watts of 7500, you have plenty of energy to run your food truck, and is the best quiet generator for a food truck business and is the best portable generator you can get your hands on.

  1. What Size Generator Does A Food Truck Need?

To run a food truck, you are looking at a minimum of 3000 watts or 25 amps to run basic equipment such as fridges, blenders, or microwaves. However, it is suggested you get a generator with a bit more power, of between 4000-7000 watts, if you intend to run multiple appliances, to give you that extra bit of capacity.

  1. What Kind Of Generator Do You Need For A Food Truck?

To run a food truck you are looking at a minimum of 3000 watts or 25 amps to run basic equipment such as fridges, blenders, or microwaves. However, it is suggested you get a generator with a bit more power, of between 4000-7000 watts, if you intend to run multiple appliances, to give you that extra bit of capacity.

  1. How Many Watts Do I Need For A Food Truck?

According to Apex, a specialty vehicle manufacturer, you need at least 2900 watts of power equipment to run everything in your food truck. They also point out that there are two different kinds of electric load types, resistive loads and reactive loads.

  1. Where Should You Install Your Generator In Your Food Truck?

Do not install your generator in the interior of your food truck. Generators produce carbon monoxide, so be sure it’s installed in a well ventilated location. Some generators have a tendency to get hot as well, so be sure anything in the installation area is heat resistant and non-flammable.

  1. How Long Does A Food Truck Generator Last?

Portable generators typically do not last as long as stationary generators. Depending on the quality of the engine, you can expect a portable generator to last between 1000 and 2000 hours. That means if you run your portable generator an average of 100 hours per year, it will last between 10 and 20 years.

  1. What Are The Maintenance Needs Of The Food Truck Generator?

Here are generator maintenance basics you should consider;

  • Radiator fins must be inspected monthly. Clear of all dirt and debris.
  • Antifreeze levels should be checked on a weekly basis.
  • Make sure the block heater is plugged in and warm.
  • Inspect hoses and the water pump for signs of wear, bulges, cracking, and leaks.
  1. How Much Does A Generator Cost For A Food Truck?

The cost of a generator is dependent on the size and brand of the generator and on the average you can get a good generator for your food truck for about $4,000.

  1. How Does A Generator Work On A Food Truck?

A portable generator works just like a car. A car is given fuel and converts the fuel into energy and electricity. The engine will take the fuel and convert it into energy through combustion. A portable generator will have power outlets on it, enabling you to connect it to your food truck.

  1. How Do You Know How Much Power Your Food Truck Needs?

In order to know how much power your food truck would need, just multiply the voltage and the amps together and you get Watts. For instance, a refrigerator may plug into a 120V outlet and need 10 Amps of current. Doing the math, you should get 1200 W of power needed to operate your fridge.

  1. How Can I Make My Food Truck Generator Quieter?

In order to make your food truck generator quieter your should;

  • Place The Generator On a Soft Surface.
  • Use Sound Deflectors To Quiet Your Generator.
  • Build An Acoustic Enclosure or Muffle Box.
  • Replace The Muffler.
  1. Can A Food Truck Be All Electric?

Although, your favorite food truck is most likely powered by gas or diesel, but they will now have the option to go all-electric with Lightning Systems launching its electric powertrain for the Ford F-59, a model used for food trucks.

  1. How Do You Sanitize A Food Truck Water Tank?

In order to sanitize a food truck water tank, mix the bleach with water in a pourable container such as a gallon jug. If the tank is filled through a pressurized fitting, carefully pour the bleach into the hose before attaching the hose to the city water entry. Warning: Do Not Mix Bleach With Ammonia.

  1. How Much Power Does A Food Trailer Need?

Actually, it will depend on the size of the food trailer. For example, if a truck uses a lot of electrical appliances, it will need a generator with a bit more power, with a minimum of 5000 watts up to around 7000 watts. A good tip to power a food truck is to get the right balance between gas-run and electrically powered equipment.

  1. How Many Watts Does It Take To Run A Food Trailer?

To run a food truck, you are looking at a minimum of 3000 watts or 25 amps to run basic equipment such as fridges, blenders, or microwaves. However, it is suggested you get a generator with a bit more power, of between 4000-7000 watts, if you intend to run multiple appliances, to give you that extra bit of capacity.

  1. Is It Safe To Drive Food Truck With Generator On?

Yes, it is safe to drive a food truck with the generator on, but please note that the generator and its muffler can get very hot during operation and with food truck events lasting for multiple hours, caution is necessary. Be sure to approach your food truck’s generator with caution when touching it after the generator has been running to avoid damage or injury.

  1. How Much Does An Electric Food Truck Cost?

Used trucks generally cost between $40,000 and $80,000, and you should be able to start using them almost immediately. The cost of renting a food truck depends on the length of the lease, but if it’s longer than, say, six months or more, it should be around $2,000 to $3,000 per month.

  1. Do Food Trucks Use Gas Or Electric?

Food trucks use a range of electrical and gas equipment to store, and cook food. This equipment obviously needs power and food trucks tend to get it from a number of different sources and sometimes from more than one source alone. There are three main ways that food trucks get their power.

  1. What Kind Of Plug Does A Food Truck Use?

The kind of plugs food trucks use comes in 2 varieties: 3 and 4 prongs. The technical standards are NEMA L14-30 and L14-20 (the 30 and 20 refer to the amperage capacity of the connector) for the 4-prong plugs which I’ve needed far more than the 3-prongs.

  1. Can A Small, Portable Generator Power Everything In Your Food Truck?

Generally, a small, portable generator cannot power everything in your food truck. The truth is that to run a food truck you are looking at a minimum of 3000 watts or 25 amps to run basic equipment such as fridges, blenders, or microwaves. However, it is suggested you get a generator with a bit more power, of between 4000-7000 watts, if you intend to run multiple appliances, to give you that extra bit of capacity.

  1. How Much Does It Cost To Run A Food Truck Monthly?

The cost of renting a food truck depends on the length of the lease, but if it is longer than, say, six months or more, it should be around $2,000 to $3,000 per month.

  1. How Many Watts Does It Take To Run A Food Truck?

You would need a minimum of 3000 watts or 25 amps to run a food truck that has basic equipment such as fridges, blenders, or microwaves. However, it is suggested you get a generator with a bit more power, of between 4000-7000 watts, if you intend to run multiple appliances, to give you that extra bit of capacity

  1. How Do Food Trucks Get Water?

Food trucks usually get their water from a water tank inside the truck that you will need to fill, clean, and maintain. Having an excellently functioning water system in your food truck is imperative to your cooking, cleaning, and gray water system (waste).

  1. How To Ground A Portable Generator When Camping?
  • Install the Copper Ground Rod. Using a hammer, mallet, or sledge hammer, drive the copper ground rod into the ground at least 8 feet for a proper ground.
  • Strip and Connect Copper Wire to Copper Rod.
  • Grounding the Generator.
  1. What Safety Protocols Should Be Taken While Running The Generator?

To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use it in rain or wet conditions. Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Do not touch the generator with wet hands.

Here are some safety protocols you should take while running a generator:

  • Operate it outdoors in an area with plenty of ventilation. Never run a generator in a home or garage. Generators give off deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Do not plug a generator into the wall to avoid back feed. Use heavy-duty extension cords to connect appliances to the outlets on the generator.
  • Turn the generator on before plugging appliances to it. Once the generator is running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit. Remember, generators are for temporary usage; prioritize your needs.
  • Generators pose electrical risks, especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only, when necessary, when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under it. Always ensure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
  • Be sure the generator is turned off and cool before fueling it.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators. Many generator components are hot enough to burn you during operation.
  1. Can Generators Interfere With The Quality Of Food Served?

Not at all, a generator cannot interfere with the quality of food served.

  1. What Is The Disadvantage Of a Generator?

This poses a challenge when it comes to handling because of the greater voltages needed to supply a fixed level of power. In these systems require additional insulation because of the greater voltages needed to supply a fixed level of power.

Ejike Cynthia