Hot running water is a must for any food truck. Not only does it make cooking easier, but it’s also necessary for sanitizing dishes and utensils. The right type of water heater can make all the difference in your food truck’s operations.
If you’re in the market for a new water heater, it’s important to choose the right model for your specific needs. There are a variety of factors to consider, including the amount of water your operation needs, the plumbing system of the truck and the type of fuel you want to use. In this post, we’ll go through everything you need to know before you go shopping.
- What to look for in water heaters – main specs
- Which is the best food truck water heater?
- Electric vs Propane Water Heaters
- Tankless vs Storage Tank
- What is the right size for a food truck?
- How to install a food truck water heater?
- Most common problems
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How Do Food Trucks Get Hot Water?
- What is hot water used for in mobile food units?
- Is hot running water required on a food truck?
- Can I operate my food truck without hot water?
- Which water heater is good for a concession stand?
- Where do you get electricity for the water heater?
- Are water heaters for food trucks the same as those for mobile homes?
- Can you use solar panels to heat the water for a food truck?
- Can a tankless water heater run out of hot water?
- Do tankless water heaters need a lot of maintenance?
- How long do tankless water heaters last?
What to look for in water heaters – main specs
There are a few factors you need to consider when choosing a water heater for your food truck. The most important specs are:
- Capacity – how much water the heater can produce at once
- Flow rate – how much water the heater can produce in a given amount of time
- Temperature range – the maximum and minimum temperatures the heater can produce
- Size – how much space the heater takes up
You’ll also need to decide what type of water heater you want: electric or propane, tankless or one with a tank for storing water. In addition, you also need to think about the layout of your truck or trailer and your budget.
Which is the best food truck water heater?
Just like there are so many different types of food trucks, trailers and concession stands, there is not a single water heater model that is going to work for everyone. Each food operation has different requirements in terms of size, the volume of hot running water, or power source, so we have tried to keep the options open and explore a bunch of different products.
After testing and researching a few dozens of products we have selected some of the best options for different demands, based on the specs mentioned above. Here are the best water heaters for food trucks:
1. Bosch Tronic 3000T Mini-Tank Water Heater
This electric mini-tank water heater is perfect for small food trucks or trailers. It has a compact design and can produce up to 3 gallons of hot water per hour, making it a great choice for Low-Flow applications. This model is available in three compact sizes(2.5, 4, and 7 gallons), which can fit easily under a sink, or even in cabinet space.
Bosch Tronic 3000T has a glass-lined tank with magnesium anode to protect against corrosion and a thermal cutoff switch for safety. This heater is Energy Star certified, meaning it meets the highest standards for energy efficiency.
2. RecPro RV Tankless Propane Water Heater
If you are looking for a tankless water heater for your food truck, the RecPro RV Tankless Propane Water Heater is a great option. This unit is compact and fits easily in a small space, and it has a pretty high flow rate of 2.6 gallons per minute, making it perfect for busy food trucks.
This model has an adjustable temperature range of 100-180 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can be hooked up to either a 12 or 24 volt system. It also includes a built-in thermostat and flame failure safety device. This unit has a forced exhaust structure, which means that the heated air is forced out of the unit, preventing any moisture from building up and causing damage.
3. Ariston Andris 8 Gallon Tank Electric Unit
If you need a larger water heater for your food truck, the Ariston Andris 8 Gallon Tank Electric Water Heater is a great option. This model can produce up to 8 gallons of hot water per hour, making it perfect for high-demand applications.
The Ariston Andris has an adjustable temperature range of 100-180 degrees Fahrenheit, and it comes with an external knob for temperature regulation. It also has a durable titanium glass-lined tank with an anode to protect against corrosion.
This unit can be installed either wall-mounted or sitting on the floor, making it a great option for tight spaces. The installation is very simple, with just a tap into a cold water line and a standard 120V outlet. Ariston’s Electric Mini Tank model is available in 3 different capacities – 2.5, 4, and 8 gallons – so you can find the perfect size for your needs.
4. Stiebel Eltron Tempra 15 Plus Electric Tankless Heater
Another great tankless water heater option for food trucks is the Stiebel Eltron Tempra 15 Plus Electric tankless heater. This electric model has a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute, so it’s perfect for light-duty applications. It has a temperature range of 95-165 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with a digital thermostat for precise temperature control. It’s very compact, measuring just 7.8 x 6.3 x 3.2 inches, so it takes up minimal space.
Tempra Plus series has an Advanced Flow Control feature, which maintains the desired water temperature even when the flow rate changes. This heater has a built-in self-diagnostic system and is ETL listed for safety. It also has a preset memory feature, which saves your favorite water temperatures for easy recall.
5. Camplux Pro 1.58 GPM Portable Unit with a Pump
This propane-powered water heater is a great portable option for food carts and concession stands. It has a flow rate of 1.58 gallons per minute, making it perfect for small to medium-sized operations.
The temperature range is adjustable from 50 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The advantage of this water heater is that it doesn’t need high water pressure. With low water pressure ignition, it can function with 3.0 PSI. The operating propane gas pressure is 0.4 PSI with a maximum power output of 41,000btu/hour.
The Camplux Pro also has a built-in pump, which makes it easy to move and set up in any location. It includes an automatic ignition system and adjustable heat settings, so you can get the perfect temperature for your needs.
Electric vs Propane Water Heaters
When it comes to water heaters for your food truck, the first choice you need to make is between electric and propane. Electric water heaters are powered by electricity from the grid, while propane water heaters run on propane gas tanks.
Electric heaters need a reliable power source, so if you don’t have an outlet you can plug the trailer into, you will have to rely on the generator for power. Alternatively, you can install solar panels to power a water tank, more on that later. The advantages of the electric water heaters are that there is a wide variety of them to choose from, and they are typically cheaper than propane.
Gas water heaters do not need electricity, as they are powered by propane tanks. Have in mind that you will need to budget for the cost of the propane tanks and fill-ups. Propane water heaters are initially more costly to install, however, they are more efficient, so you are likely to save money in the long run. They produce more heat than electric ones, meaning you can use a smaller heater to produce the same amount of hot water. A gas water heater will lighten the electrical load on your generator but you will need a vent outside the truck to channel out the dangerous carbon monoxide fumes being generated. They also need to be inspected from time to time by a professional to make sure the gas lines are safe.
Tankless vs Storage Tank
The next choice you need to make is between tankless and storage tank water heaters. Tankless water heaters, as the name suggests, don’t have a tank to store water as traditional water heaters do. They heat the water on demand as it passes through the unit. This is a more efficient way to heat water, as there is no energy wasted heating water that is not being used.
Tankless water heaters do have a few disadvantages, though. They can be more expensive to install, and they require more maintenance than storage tank heaters. During the frosty winter months, tankless water heaters require a bit of extra care and attention, as they can freeze if certain precautions aren’t taken.
Storage tank water heaters have a tank that stores hot water until it is needed. This is the most common type of water heater, and it is typically less expensive than tankless heaters to install. However, they are not as efficient as tankless water heaters, and they are more prone to corrosion.
What is the right size for a food truck?
Most food trucks have very limited room, so every appliance has to be as compact as possible. The same goes for the water heater, however, it still needs to be large enough not to run out of hot water. A too-small tank will not be able to keep up with demand on busy days, while a tank that is too large will take up valuable space in your truck.
If you are using an electric water heater, it is important to know the wattage. The wattage is the amount of energy that the heater uses, and you need to make sure your breaker can handle the load. Most electric water heaters have a rating of 6,000 or 9,000 watts, so make sure your breaker can handle that much load.
If you are using a propane water heater, you need to know the BTUs (British thermal units). The BTU is the amount of heat that the heater produces, and you need to make sure your propane tanks can handle the heat output. Most propane water heaters have a rating of between 40,000 and 60,000 BTUs, so make sure your tanks can handle that amount of heat.
The size of the tankless water heater you need also depends on the flow rate. The flow rate is the amount of water that can pass through the heater at one time. If you are only using the water heater for your sink, a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less is usually adequate. If you are also using the water heater for dishwashing or some appliances, you will need a higher flow rate.
The most compact water heaters are the 6,000-watt electric models. If you are using a propane water heater, the 40,000 BTU model is the most compact option. Tankless models take up less space than those with a storage tank.
How to install a food truck water heater?
Electric water heaters are the easiest to install. They simply connect to the cold water supply and plug into an outlet. Before you start a water heater installation project, read all the instructions. Take a few notes on what tools you’ll need for the project, as well. Some counties require permits to install water heaters in food truck. The permits ensure the installer follows all the necessary safety and building codes.
Installing a propane water heater is a difficult task involving an advanced level of skill. Those unfamiliar with plumbing installation should reach out to experts in this field. Tankless water heaters are more difficult to install, as they require a higher level of skill. You will need to install a gas line, and you must be familiar with the installation of natural gas appliances.
While you technically can install a hot water heater yourself, the likelihood that this is a good or safe idea is very slim. Unless you are experienced and knowledgeable in this area, trust the professionals with your water heater installation to make sure it’s done correctly.
Most common problems
Storage tank issues
The two most common problems with storage tank water heaters are corrosion and sediment build-up. Corrosion can cause the tank to leak, while sediment build-up can reduce the efficiency of the heater and lead to a decrease in hot water output.
Tankless heater problems
The two most common problems with tankless water heaters are poor water flow and insufficient heat production. Poor water flow can be caused by several factors, such as kinks in the tubing, low water pressure, or a clogged filter. Insufficient heat production can be caused by a number of factors, such as low gas pressure or a clogged burner.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Food Trucks Get Hot Water?
Almost all food trucks use either an electric or propane water heater to get hot water. Water heaters are a necessary piece of equipment for mobile food vendors.
What is hot water used for in mobile food units?
Hot water is used for a variety of tasks in mobile food units, such as dishwashing, sanitizing food contact surfaces, and cleaning the unit. It is also used for handwashing, which is the most important task when it comes to food safety.
Is hot running water required on a food truck?
Unless you only sell prepackaged food and beverages, hot running water is required. This is necessary to properly sanitize food contact surfaces and dishes. Without it, you run the risk of contaminating your food with bacteria.
Can I operate my food truck without hot water?
If your water heater fails, most states allow food operations to legally run temporarily without hot running water. However, hot water is still necessary to remain open.
In order to be prepared for a hot water heater breakdown, you should have a written standard operating procedure (SOP) in place. This SOP should include a timeline for managing a water heat outage as well as a list of specific steps and materials.
Which water heater is good for a concession stand?
The best type for a concession stand is a propane-powered water heater. This is because propane-powered heaters are durable and do not require having an electrical outlet nearby.
Where do you get electricity for the water heater?
All commercial kitchen appliances, including water heaters, can use one of the following power sources: 110-volt outlets, power generators, or natural gas. There is also the option of using solar panels, though this is not as common.
Are water heaters for food trucks the same as those for mobile homes?
No, the water heaters for food trucks are not the same as those for mobile homes. The water heaters for food trucks are larger in size and typically have more features. They are also designed to be more durable, so they can withstand the demands of a food truck.
Can you use solar panels to heat the water for a food truck?
While it is possible to use solar panels to heat the water for a food truck, this is not as common. Solar panels are an eco-friendly source of energy, but they are expensive, and you will still need to have a backup generator.
Can a tankless water heater run out of hot water?
Yes, a tankless water heater can run out of hot water if it is not properly sized for your needs. If you have a tankless water heater that is too small, it may not be able to keep up with your demand for hot water. This can lead to a shortage of hot water and an increased chance of a breakdown.
Do tankless water heaters need a lot of maintenance?
Tankless water heaters do not require a lot of maintenance, but they do need to be properly cleaned and serviced on a regular basis. If the filter is not cleaned regularly, it can become clogged and affect the performance of the water heater. You will need to flush the unit and clean the filter at least once a year.
They also need special care during winter. If the water heater is not properly winterized, it can freeze and damage the unit.
How long do tankless water heaters last?
Tankless water heaters typically last 10-15 years. However, they can last up to 20 years if they are properly maintained. This is why it’s important to properly estimate your hot water needs, so you don’t end up having to replace your water heater with a bigger one.
Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions about water heaters for food trucks. If you are still unsure which water heater is right for you, consult with a professional.