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Food Truck Generator Power 101

Let's head into Day 29 and discuss Food Truck Generator Power 101

As you embark on the food truck business, you'll soon find out that many festivals, events, and catering gigs offer power, but many will not. Nothing seems to plummet your food truck business as quickly as not having the correct generator to operate your business while remaining 100% fully self contained. This post contains Food Truck Generator Power 101 - the basics on generator maintenance. justifies the importance of have an operable and efficient generator with the following: "if power is lost at an event or festival, the price of a generator would pay for itself in about 3 hours. Food truck generators are certainly a good choice for those trying to find out how to power a food truck conveniently."Food Truck Generator Power 101

Questions to Consider for Food Truck Generator Power 101

As you are researching and choosing an experienced food truck builders, it's important to understand generator basics, so you can determine if your equipment needs will be met. Below are a few questions to ask yourself (and the builder) when discussing power needs [content referenced from] :

What appliances be used daily?

Understanding how your equipment will function when powered by a generator is important to prevent your food truck operations from stalling. Some appliances need a higher starting wattage (required power to start up) compared to its running wattage. You need to know the kind of load your generator will be powering so you can calculate how much power (and the size of generator) you will need.

There are two kinds of loads:
  Resistive loads – require the same amount of power to start up and run. These are appliances usually involved in heating or produces heat like light bulbs, coffee makers, toasters, and microwave ovens.
  Reactive loads – require additional power to start but consumes less once it is running. These are appliances that contain an electric motor like refrigerators, bean grinders, blenders, and air conditioners.

How much power do you need?

A generator can only produce a certain amount of electricity so it's crucial that your generator can handle your daily power needs. As we cannot speak for other builders, APEX has a standard of including a 12kW in our food trucks, with the option to increase based on the customers' needs. The 12kW is higher than the industry standard, which comes with a higher price tag, however our customers understand the importance of operating the food truck correctly and most efficiently, without stalling and having to invest in more money on a larger generator a few months down the road.

APEX's in-house design and engineering team can assist you with determining how much power your generator needs by calculating the power requirements of all the appliances you will be using at the same time. You can also determine the power required for an appliance by checking the bottom or side for a stamp, its nameplate, or the data tag found on electric motors. Manuals also contain these information. Power requirements of appliances are usually listed in amps while most generators list power outputs in watts so a bit of conversion might be required.

Watts = Volts x Amps
Amps = Watts / Volts

To calculate: Add the power requirements of the appliances you will use at a given time. This will give you the amount of power your generator should at least have. If the load is reactive, calculate using starting wattage, which is typically 3 times the running wattage.

Example calculation: (using estimated power requirements)

Coffee maker – starting wattage: 600; running wattage: 600
Refrigerator (Energy Star) – starting wattage: 1200; running wattage: 192
5 Lights bulbs – starting wattage: 300; running wattage: 300
Blender – starting wattage: 850; running wattage: 400
Total: 2950W

You will need a generator with power output of at least 2950 watts. Getting a generator with a slightly higher wattage output than your requirement is recommended; some appliances increase their need for energy as they age and become less efficient. The chart to the right shows some common power requirements that may be helpful.

Stay tuned for additional posts on this topic - Food Truck Generator Power 101 - as there are so many different aspects of the heartbeat of the food truck - the generator.