How Food Trucks Get Electricity: Ultimate Guide

How Do Food Trucks Get Electricity? Many of us regularly get food from food trucks without thinking much about how the food was cooked or prepared. Most food trucks have refrigerators, ovens, stoves, and even …

How Do Food Trucks Get Electricity?

Many of us regularly get food from food trucks without thinking much about how the food was cooked or prepared. Most food trucks have refrigerators, ovens, stoves, and even deep fryers that are used for long periods of time. So, where does the electricity come from to power the food truck and all the appliances inside?

How do food trucks get electricity? Food trucks can get electricity from gas or diesel-powered portable generators, solar panels, or propane tanks. These are all reliable options when it comes to powering a food truck and serving customers.

If you’re someone who’s interested in getting a food truck, it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll get electricity to power the appliances you’ll need. Keep reading to get an in-depth look at the options you can choose from for powering your food truck.

Powering a Food Truck Using Portable Generators

What is a Portable Generator?

A portable generator is a piece of machinery that converts fuel and gas into electricity. While you may find stationary generators outside of businesses and hospitals, a portable generator is smaller in size and usually has wheels so that it can be transported from place to place.

A portable generator will usually weigh no more than 100 lbs; they typically range in weight from 60-80 lbs. You can find portable generators that have wheels attached, which will make the transporting process much easier.


How Does the Portable Generator Work?

If you’ve considered purchasing a portable generator for your food truck, it’s important to know how they work. A portable generator works just like a car. A car is given fuel and converts the fuel into energy and electricity. The engine in the car is responsible for this conversion. Just like a car, a portable generator will have a gas tank, an engine, and an alternator. The engine will take the fuel and convert it into energy through combustion.

A portable generator will have power outlets on it, enabling you to connect it to your food truck. You will have to use a power cord to connect the two together.

If you’re shopping for a portable generator, be sure to research the number of watts the generator will need to put off to power your food truck. Different generators may produce different wattage, so it’s important to choose a portable generator that meets your needs. The more appliances you have in your food truck, the more wattage you’ll need.

how to power your food truckHow Long Does the Portable Generator Generate Electricity?

The tank on a portable generator can hold enough fuel to run for around 6-9 hours at a time; however, this number can vary based on the type of portable generator you purchase.

Ideally, a portable generator will run as long as it has fuel; however, generators can overheat from the use or from hot temperatures. If you’re trying to maintain the life and quality of your portable generator, it’s good to limit it to 500 hours of usage at a time.

So, how long do portable generators tend to last? If used for only a few hundred hours a year, a portable generator could last a very long time. Instead of age, the life of your generator will be determined by it’s run hours, or how long it’s used.  Most portable generators will last for 20,000 run hours. This means the more frequently you use the portable generator, the shorter it’s lifespan.

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How Expensive is a Portable Generator?

You can find a quality food truck portable generator for around $1,000. When it comes to portable generators, usually the more you are willing to pay will determine quality, run hours, and run-time for 1 tank of fuel.

Powering a Food Truck Using Solar Panels

What is a Solar Panel?

A solar panel is a device that converts the energy from the sun into electricity. Not only are solar panels used for homes, electric fences, and outdoor lighting but it can also be used to power your food truck. The solar panel can be placed on the top of the food truck so that it can collect direct sunlight to convert into energy.

get electricity to your food truckHow Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels are usually made out of silicon and filled with wiring to collect and transport energy. The Silicon interacts with the sunlight to create electricity, which it then transports through the wiring of the food truck and to the appliances.

Solar panels must be placed in an area where they can receive sunlight; you don’t want anything covering them or obstructing them from collecting sunlight. Solar panels will even work on cloudy days, as they can generate electricity from indirect sunlight as well.

How Long Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?

Once you have solar panels installed, the solar panels can generate electricity at any time. Solar panels can last longer than 25 years, making them a great long-term solution for powering your food truck. While they may require maintenance every now and then, solar panels don’t have a limited run-time that would affect your ability to cook food and do business.

How Expensive Are Solar Panels?

While solar panels are long-lasting and require little maintenance, the initial investment is much more compared to other electricity options for your food truck. You may need to invest around $5000 to purchase solar panels and have them installed and connected to your food truck. However, once the initial investment is made, they require very little financial maintenance.

A food truck requires maintenance, just like any other vehicle. Check out our article Will Insurance Cover a Blown Head Gasket?

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Powering a Food Truck Using Propane Tanks

What is a Propane Tank?

A propane tank is a tank that stores propane in liquid form. Propane is a gas that can be used to power homes, grills, food trucks, and many other things. Propane can be considered one of the most reliable sources of energy and heat; it can be found in abundance throughout the world and is very inexpensive.

How Do Propane Tanks Work?

Propane tanks work by boiling the propane in liquid form. From there, the propane turns back into a gas vapor and is used to produce energy. As the gas escapes from the tank, it can power appliances and homes.

People may have apprehensions about using propane because they’ve heard the stories of how the propane tanks have exploded or leaked. Propane may be considered dangerous by some people because it’s a gas being compressed in a big metal tank. It’s also flammable, so if there’s a leak, the gas can quickly ignite if touched by a flame.

All this said propane is a reliable, safe, and inexpensive option for your food truck; however, it is important to know how to recognize a propane leak and have a plan in place for what to do if one occurs. You can notice a propane leak by the smell of rotten eggs. Turn off anything that produces a flame, and if safe, shut off the propane valve. Evacuate the truck and call 911.

How Long Do Propane Tanks Generate Electricity?

Propane tanks come in all different shapes and sizes. Obviously, the bigger the propane tank is, the more propane you’ll be able to store and the longer your food truck will be able to run. To calculate the amount of propane you’ll need and for how long, you’ll need to find the BTU measurement of all of your appliances. This number can usually be found on the appliances themselves. You can use this number to find a propane tank with a higher BTU measurement that will supply your appliances.

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How Expensive Are Propane Tanks?

Your initial investment will be to purchase a propane tank. From there, you can regularly refill the tank as you need to. A 100-pound propane tank will usually cost $100. The bigger the tank, the more expensive it will be; however, the tank is still considered a good deal compared to other electricity options.


I hope this article answers all your questions about how to power a food truck. Food trucks are continuing to get more and more popular as they start to appear around each city and provide great dining options for parties and events. Are you looking for ways to spice up your staff party? A food truck may be an option, or check out our article 20 Annual Staff Party Ideas Your Team Will Love.