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.