As well as being one of the essentials, generator is also one of the most expensive items on the mobile kitchen equipment list. More powerful generators are typically more expensive and can easily break the $1000 mark. Generators from praised companies like Honda can cost several thousands of dollars. The cheapest generator on our list costs around $600, but it is on the smaller size. From our experience generators that cost more up front, and up being well worth it in the long run.
There is also a matter of cost of running a generator. This is not so easy to estimate, as there are a lot of variables. Running costs depend on the price of fuel, how large your generator is and how hard you run it.
Being noiseless is important, but the generator you get has to be able to power up all the appliances that you have. To figure out the right size you need to do some math. Consider all the electrical devices you’ll be using and then some. As a rule of thumb, a 20% of extra power never hurts.
Understanding how your equipment will function when powered by a generator is important to keep the orders running and keep customers happy. Some appliances need a higher starting wattage, or more power to start up, compared to their 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.
Next, you should calculate the power requirements of all the appliances you will be using at the same time. You can determine the power required by an appliance by checking the bottom or side for a stamp, its nameplate, or the specs sheet. If the load is reactive, calculate using starting wattage, which is typically 3 times the running wattage.
Power requirements of appliances are usually listed in amps so you would need to convert it in watts, but it is easy if you know that:
Watts = Volts x Amps
Amps = Watts / Volts
Here is a list of common appliances and their energy consumption:
- Reach-in Refrigerator 200-300W
- Undercounter freezer 400-800W
- Espresso machine 1700W
- Panini press 1500-1800W
- Half-size convection oven 1600-1000W
- Hot food holding cabinet 1200-1500W
- Food processor 600-800W
- Electric deep fryer 1800-3000W
Generally speaking, 4000W generator should be the minimal size to consider for optimum efficiency and effectiveness. If you intend to run multiple appliances at once look in the range of 4000-7000 watts. Never go by the wattage in a generator’s name – these are starting watts. Go through the full specs list and check the continuous power.
Generators can be mounted on the roof, tongue, rear and front bumpers and inside the truck. The best place would be different for everyone. If you would like to keep the line of your truck clean, there are plenty of options that keep the generator hidden, but still accessible, like built-in compartment boxes and cages, underfloor mounting tray, or slide tray kits for your compartments.
Make sure to check with your local Department of Transportation to see whether there are any regulations for mounting equipment on food trucks. If there are no particular regulations, you have to ask yourself few questions. What looks good? Will the noise bother my customers or staff? Can I refill the fuel, and access the maintenance points? Then, make the decision based on your anwers.