There was a time the only food truck to jingle its way round town was Mr Whippy. Now the kids who used to run out into the streets screaming for soft serves in a cone, are all grown up and now they’re chasing a new breed of food truck. From tacos to gumbo, curry to burgers, food trucks are serving up a whole menu of appetising and (sometimes) gourmet goodies. It’s turned out to be a massive business opportunity in cities and ‘burbs across Australia.
For anyone who wants to get on the food wagon (sorry) and is thinking about starting a food truck business, or for those who already have a food truck business, power is an important consideration. Without the right electric generator, you’ll be out of power before you can say “My Whippy’s back”. And there’s nothing worse than making people trek all over the city for their dinner only to find there’s nothing cooking.
What type of generator do I need for my food truck?
By far, the best type of generator for a food van is an Inverter Generator. Sound complicated? Well, it’s not. The Inverter is a lightweight microprocessor that replaces the old school heavy alternator in conventional-style generators. Inverter generators produce clean, pure power that is ideal for food vans. You get clean quality power with the peace of mind that there won’t be any spikes or surges. This means you can power the more sensitive equipment that you wouldn’t normally trust to a generator, such as laptops and mobile phone chargers or any other electrical appliances.
The other great benefit of an inverter generator is it’s eco-throttle feature, which automatically adjusts the engine speed in accordance with the required load. This means that your inverter generator is extremely fuel efficient and won’t guzzle loads of petrol unnecessarily. You get a longer continuous running time without the need to refuel – so unless your van runs out of fuel, there’s no need for emergency refuelling stops. You ultimately enjoy more power for less money – yet another way to improve your profit margin!
Another huge advantage for food vans is that inverter generators come in more portable and lightweight designs than their conventional counterparts. This means they are easy to move into and out of the van (especially because they have a fancy ergonomic handle), and won’t take up much space when you’re on the road. All the more room for burger buns, taco shells and pork rolls!
Lastly, when your business is based on residential streets, you need a generator that isn’t noisy or disruptive. Inverter Generators typically come with sound-proofed casing, insulators and mufflers for whisper quiet operation. For example, a Yamaha 2000 watt inverter generator is rated at about 52 decibels at quarter load – that is quieter than normal conversation levels! Here’s an example of a customer with a typical small inverter generator model:
Food Van Generator Recommendations?
Like any generator, inverter generators come in a whole range of sizes to suit different uses – we recommend checking out the My Generator Buyer’s Guide to ensure you get the right sized unit for all the appliances you intend to run. It’s essential you find out the wattage draw of your particular appliances (especially the starting wattage) so you get a generator large enough to power your food van.
So whilst it’s different for each set up, the most popular inverter generator models for food vans, coffee carts and market stalls are:
Delivers a maximum 2000 watts and is great for smaller requirements within your van; lights, cash registers, small fridges, blenders and other small cooking/kitchen appliances. You can also connect two of these units together via a parallel kit, to almost double the power output, like this customer here:
This 2400 watt inverter generator is a ‘great value for money’ option, retailing at under $990! This generator is supported by Crommelins Machinery award winning national service and spare parts network and comes with a 1 year Cromtech warranty.
The Yamaha 2400w inverter generator is the premium offering generator of its size! The EF2400IS has won awards for its output performance; in fact it was the winner of the Caravan & Motorhome On Tour Magazine’s Mega Portable Generator Comparison, whereby they tested 13 portable generators across six brands! This generator is backed by Yamaha’s national service network and comes with a 4 year warranty!
Also suited to run smaller food trucks / market stalls, with 3400 watts of maximum power. This unit comes with a very handy retractable handle and in-built wheels so its very easy to move around. This model is also compelling on price as a Yamaha or Honda model in the equivalent 3400w size is around double the price. Like the Yamaha EF2000iS unit above, this Briggs P3400 can be paralleled with another P3400 unit to almost double the output if required. It’s also a popular model to run Caravan’s.
if you are looking for a generator inbetween 3000W and a huge 6300W this is it! This generator boosts 4500W of start-up power but is super quiet & lightweight. It comes with a 3 year warranty and has a feature like no other: the CO Guard Carbon Monoxide Shutdown. This feature detects when dangerous levels of carbon monoxide accumulate around the generator and automatically switches it off – this feature could be a life saver in a food van!
This is the number 1 choice for mobile vans and carts that run a coffee machine, coffee grinder etc. As these appliances typically need a bit more power, you’ll need the 6300 watts that this model produces to run the coffee equipment as well as all your other associated appliances. It comes with a 4 year warranty and Yamaha products provide exceptional reliability. Next time you are at a food truck meet, chances are you’ll see (you won’t hardly hear it!) a Yamaha EF6300iSE running a coffee cart or food truck, like these:
This model produces a max of 6500 watts and is the newest kid on the block (only released to Australia in 2018). We’ve already found it to be incredibly popular. Not just for home owners requiring back up power, but for mobile food businesses and coffee cart operators alike.
As mentioned above, many food truck / coffee cart owners need more than 6000 watts to run their vehicle set up… so this Q6500 fits the bill perfectly – and it’s much cheaper than a Honda or Yamaha equivalent. It comes with a 3 year warranty (only slightly less than a Yamaha or Honda), also includes retractable handle and in-built wheels for easy maneuverability.
Check out other impressive features HERE including a bluetooth enabled with Android/iPhone app for monitoring things such as fuel and run time. This new model is well on the way to becoming the food truck generator of choice. Quick video overview here:
TWO FINAL TIPS!
1) Watch this helpful video from a fellow Food Van owner demonstrating how he uses a wattage meter to measure the power draw of his kitchen appliances and to ensure he is using a generator set up with enough power:
2) An important safety point with generators and food vans is that when operating the generator it must have ventilation to draw in fresh air and for the release of exhaust fumes. Enclosing the generator and not providing sufficient ventilation during operation is unsafe and can damage the generator. Be safe kids! 🙂
If you require more information on generators for food vans/coffee carts, then feel free to call us on 1300 400 122. You can also read more in the following related articles:
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.