Previously food trucks were a reserve of community events and other social gatherings but nowadays you’ll find them just about anywhere.
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One crucial aspect though in the food truck business is how to keep the food fresh and hot, which brings us to the Top 5 Generators for Food Trucks.
Table of Top 5 Generators for Food Trucks
While some social events provide electricity, it’s safer to carry your own portable power than be sorry.
Using a mix of feature comparison, owner recommendations and reviews from top seller websites, we came up with a list of the top 5 food truck generators.
Here is the criteria we used to evaluate each single generator:
- Output Capacity
We considered mid-sized generators (with respect to power) with output capacity between 3000 and 8000 watts. A mid-sized generator sits between a very portable generator (such as a typical 2000-watt inverter generator) and a high output standby generator used in big homes or businesses.
- Noise Level
Is the engine noise level acceptable in public places?
- Fuel Types:
You’re dealing with mobile power, which means availability of fuel type in a specific area is crucial.
- Type of Generator
Standard or inverter generator. Both have upsides and downsides. It’s up to you to choose which type better serves your needs.
Using the listed criteria, we selected the following as the top 5 food truck generators at the moment.
1. Yamaha EF4500iSE – Best Reliable Generator for Food Truck
With its 30A receptacle, the Yamaha EF4500iSE is purpose-built for recreational trailers and RVs but we found that it’s a perfect fit for a Generator for food truck as well. The Yamaha is a pricey but powerful little gem that is flexible enough to provide portable power in any situation.
We chose the EF4500iSE as the best mid-sized generator for a food truck because it is very efficient and powerful, and that’s what matters most when you need reliable portable power for several hours a day.
The EF4500iSE generates clean power with very little noise for a unit of is capacity. In a mobile truck setting this is a major benefit.
You realize that the mid-sized and high power category comprises many conventional models (that are typically loud). To find a 4000-watt inverter generator that’s as quiet as the EF4500iSE is surely a major win.
Below we answer a couple of typical questions that potential owners are likely to ask about the EF4500iSE:
Is the EF4500iSE portable enough for a mobile truck?
Sure, a food truck can be customized to carry any size of portable generator. However, the more portable the generator the easier life gets for you.
The EF4500iSE measures 28.7 x 29.8 x 33.3 inches (LxWxH) and weighs 192 lbs. The overall build is compact and obviously at this weight it is a tad heavy to carry by one person. It typically requires two people to load and offload from the truck. It is equipped with a twin bar handle system for lifting.
Alternatively you can roll it on its four wheels but that’s after offloading it from the truck and provided that the surface is firm.
If you installed the generator into the truck then you obviously don’t need to load and offload it each time you’re going to use it. Be sure to follow the safety tips for installing a food truck generator.
Does it provide enough power for a food truck?
Minimum 3000 watts generators should be selected.
As we mentioned earlier, 3000 watts is a safe minimum to consider when buying a food truck generator. The EF4500iSE provides much more, 4500 starting watts and 4000 running watts (or 37.5 and 33 amps respectively), which is pretty comfortable for most types of food trucks.
With 4000 watts you can plug in the following combination of appliances simultaneously:
- A mid-sized freezer/refrigerator (1500-2000 watts), an electric kettle (1200 watts), and a microwave (600-1500 watts).
- Oven (2200 watts), rice cooker (250 watts), a toaster (800 watts), and a refrigerated beverage dispenser (420 watts).
Refrigerator/freezer (1500-2000 watts) and an oven (2000 watts).
- Grill (1200 watts), blender (350 watts), microwave (600-1500 watts), and a freezer/refrigerator (1500-2000 watts).
For how long does the EF4500iSE provide electricity reliably?
The EF4500iSE is equipped with a 4.5-gallon gas tank that gives the engine a run time of 15 hours based on the spec sheet. However this is only at 25% load and a more realistic outlook is that you’ll be running at full load or thereabouts most of the time. On a typical day though expect to get 7 hours at rated load before refueling. Since you’ll be running at rated load most of the time you may not realize the benefits of reduced fuel consumption as a result of slowed engine speed at lower loads
Is the EF4500iSE too loud for public spaces?
The EF4500iSE is billed as the most powerful generator in its class yet its spec sheet puts the noise level at 58-60 dBA, which is pretty impressive.
Several owner reviews on Amazon also commented on how quiet this unit runs compared to its output size.
Is the EF4500iSE easy to use?
The EF4500iSE is super easy to use. Starting the unit is a walk in the park, thanks to its electric start system, along with the optional remote start accessory if you really need it (you would if you operate a food truck).
In addition, the EF4500iSE is equipped with all the trimmings that make its operation a breeze, including a low oil warning system, hour meter, and a gas gauge among others.
Yamaha EF4500iSE: Summary
- 4,500 Watt Maximum AC Output/4,000 Watt Rated AC Output
- Complies with California Air Resources Board Tier III exhaust emission standard.
- Optional wireless remote control Start and stop the generator from up to 66 feet away.
- Electric Start
2. DuroStar DS4000S – Best Budget Generator for Food Truck
Good things don’t come cheap except when buying the DS4000S. If you need to keep that food fresh and hot on a shoestring budget, we recommend the DuroStar DS4000S. Quite frankly this is the best mid-sized generator you can get for less than $300.
You probably know that DuroStar generators are built for the value market (built for affordability) but this doesn’t take anything from their quality. The main difference with the premium models is the feature-set. However the DS4000S certainly leads the mid-sized pack in the value market.
How much power do you get from DS4000S?
The DS4000S boasts of a 7HP 4-cycle OHV engine that produces 4000 watts at peak output and 3300 watts at continuous output. The 4-cycle configuration is more fuel efficient than 2-cycle, so you obviously get the fuel saving benefits by default.
At full gas tank capacity (4 gallons) the maximum runtime is 8 hours at 50% load, which is impressive if you cycle through different appliances at intervals. Obviously the more equipment you plug in, the faster you approach the 3300 watt limit, which cuts the runtime too.
How loud is the DS4000S?
The noise level rating for the DS4000S is 69 dBA on the spec sheet, which is average for a 4000-watt generator. In other words the DS4000 is not too quiet to permit a normal conversation especially if you’re closer than 7 feet.
Remember you’re paying less than $300 for 4000 watts of power so there’s going to be some tradeoffs and this is definitely one of them.
And it appears the noise level could have been much worse if it weren’t for the ‘Quiet Muffler’ that’s built into the unit.
Portability – Is it easy to move?
As we mentioned earlier, you can install your generator into a special compartment in your food truck but this means extra costs in customizing the truck. Some people don’t mind moving the generator outside the track whenever they need to use it. In the latter case, portability is of paramount importance. Luckily the DS4000S isn’t too heavy to lift but it’s not something you’re going to drag around easily. Weighing 90 pounds, the DS4000S is easier to carry by two people using the steel frame as the carry handle. For about $100 more, however, you can instead swap it for the DS4400 model that comes with a built-in wheel kit as well as slightly more power.
Once the engine is started, it runs smoothly for the better part, thanks to the embedded engine control unit. This unit basically monitors loads on the generator’s output and tries to match them with the appropriate engine rpm. In turn you get better fuel economy and smooth running overall.That being said, based on several owner reviews we perused, the 755371i isn’t the most fuel efficient generator in its class. Of course every situation is different as you’d have to consider the loads plugged in and the duration the engine has been running.
How easy is the DS4000S to operate?
The DS4000S is not the easiest generator to operate among the units we researched but it’s fairly manageable. Seasoned generator owners should find it a breeze to use though.
The start process is entirely manual with no other option, which is pretty much expected given the price point.
The control panel is equipped with the main user controls as well as the respective receptacles. The controls include a circuit breaker, a voltmeter, and a start switch.
For the outlets there are two 3-prong 120V 20A AC receptacles and one 120V 30A AC receptacle.
DuroStar DS4000S: Summary
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- POWERFUL DUROSTAR ENGINE: The DS4000S is powered by a DuroStar 7 HP 208cc OHV engine with automatic...
- PLENTY OF POWER: With 4,000 peak watts and 3,300 running watts, this unit is a workhorse that...
- POWER PANEL: Includes a selection of outlets for maximum compatibility in your applications...
- POWERING EVERYONE ANYWHERE: Like all DuroStar generators, the DS4000S is EPA and CARB approved for...
3. Champion Power Equipment 76533 – Best Dual Fuel Food Truck Generator
Looking for a great mid-sized generator that gets a lot done with so little? The Champion 76533 is worth a hard look. Quite simply this is the most versatile mid-sized generator we’ve reviewed. It packs a ton of value yet it’s very affordable compared to the Yamaha EF4500iSE, for instance.
For starters you can choose between propane and standard gasoline to run the engine using the handy fuel selector switch. This means that shortage of one fuel type in one area should not put your truck operations on hold.
Let’s see how well the 76533 holds up with respect to food truck operations:
How much power is the Champion 76533 capable of?
At peak output of 4750 watts and running output of 3800 watts (on gasoline and 4275 and 3240 watts respectively on propane), the 76533 has enough power to meet the highest demands of a mobile food truck. In other words you can plug in a snack oven, a bun warmer, flat top grill, and a broiler grill and get more than 5 hours run time (combined wattage is less than 2000 watts, which is roughly 50% load).
The powerful 224 cc dual-fuel engine at the heart of the Champion 76533 is robust and reliable, and seems to match many of its pricier models. Many owner reviews we perused were in awe of its power.
Overall the 76533 is thoroughly dependable in terms of power production. It seems like just the ideal dual fuel generator cut out for food trucks.
How easy is the 76533 to move around?
While the 76533 weighs 119 pounds, it clearly wasn’t built for lifting. Instead it comes with a built-in wheel kit that makes it easy to move it around. The kit features 8-inch wheels and is supported by a flip-up handle bar you can grip to roll the generator on the wheels.
How loud is the Champion 76533?
The official spec sheet figure is 68 dBA from 23 feet. Frankly speaking this is going to be a fairly loud operation that’s sure to get even louder as you plug in more appliances. But with all the benefits the 76533 gives, you should find a work around for this small inconvenience. For instance you can place the generator at some good distance from the truck.
How easy is the Champion 76533 to use?
The 76533 has one of the easiest start mechanisms of any mid-sized generator we’ve researched. Unsurprisingly the generator’s start method has received plenty of revving reviews from users.
It features an all-electric start courtesy of a toggle on/off switch that includes a battery. That’s right, starting this powerful beast of a generator is as easy as pushing a toggle switch.
When it comes to outlets the 76533 is generously equipped. There’s one 120V 30A outlet, another 120V 30A RV receptacle, and 2 other 120V 20A outlets for basic appliances. The built-in Volt Guard surge protection system protects your equipment and engine from potential damage due to surges.
Champion 76533 Summary
- Dual Fuel: Operate your 3800-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or...
- Electric Start: Power up the 224cc Champion engine with the handy toggle switch, battery included
- Intelligauge: Keep track of voltage, hertz and run-time hours to easily monitor power output and...
- Outlets: One 120V 30A RV outlet (TT-30R), one 120V 30A locking outlet (L5-30R) and two 120V 20A...
4. Briggs & Stratton 30663 – Best Long Running Food Truck Generator
Food truck business entails long working hours. In that case, investing in a generator that can handle long runtimes without refueling makes the best business sense.
We researched several units and determined that the Briggs & Stratton 30663 is the best mid-sized workhorse to give you the longest uninterrupted hours of pure power output.
The professional grade 30663 uses a 420cc engine that’s built for high performance and longevity. You can get 3500 watts continuously for 9 hours and at full load, the runtime comes down to roughly 4 hours, which is still impressive considering the number of equipment you can connect.
Here are the key performance features of the 30663:
How much power is the 30663 capable of?
The 30663 has a rated output of 7000 watts and starting output of 8750 watts. This is sufficient power for even the busiest of food truck operations. At 50% load, a full tank of gas (7.5 gallons) guarantees 9 hours of uninterrupted operation. This is equal to the full running output you get with most of the other generators on this list.
What is the noise level?
Like many Briggs & Stratton generators, there is no noise rating for the 30663. However the unit has an open build so you should expect noise when the engine is running. In fact this being a relatively high output generator means that the noise level should be upwards of 65 dBA, which is pretty loud.That being said, the generator comes with a built-in Super Lo-tone muffler that should bring the noise levels down to bearable levels
Is it easy to move around?
The 30663 measures 28x31x39 inches in LxWxH and has a dry weight of 244 lbs. It’s dimensions make it reasonably small for a 7000-watt generator. However there’s no denying that it’s a heavy beast and even gets heavier when the gas tank is filled to capacity.
The 30663 is equipped with 12-inch all-terrain wheels though, along with a fold up handle to make its maneuverability easier.
Is it easy to use?
A remote choke and key electric start make it extremely easy to start the 30663. While the control panel looks simple, it is feature packed and one of the most intuitively designed we’ve seen on a generator. You can monitor runtime and gas usage right from the panel.
For outlets, there are four 120V receptacles for appliances and one 120/240V 30A for additional essentials.
Overall this is a great generator for food trucks with huge power demands.
Briggs & Stratton 30663 Summary
- Clean and instant power to keep appliances and other important electronics running during a power...
- Produces 25-percent more surge wattage so you can run large appliances and tools at the same time
- 2100 series OHV 420cc engine
- 7.5-Gallon Metal fuel tank for an impressive 9-hours of continuous operation at 50-percent load on a...
5. Ryobi RYI2200 – Best Quiet Generator for Food Truck
Having a powerful generator is a great thing but if it is so noisy you struggle to hear customer orders then your service will suffer..
Luckily there are a couple of workarounds when using a noisy generator, but why hassle when you could buy a quiet one in the first place
Our choice for best quiet generator for food truck operation is the Ryobi RYI2200. Clearly this is an exception as it’s not a mid-sized generator but it’s one of the quietest you can use to power a food truck without distracting noise.
How it stacks up in key features:
How much power does the RYI2200 produce?
When you go for a quiet operation you’re going to sacrifice a lot on power. The RYI2200 is an inverter generator and manages 1800 running watts and 2200 surge watts. The 106 cc 4-cycle single overhead cam (SOHC) engine is built to run as quiet as possible. It can be setup in a parallel configuration for increased output though.
The 1-gallon gas tank allows for a paltry 5 hours of runtime at 50% load.
How easy is it to move?
This is probably the most portable generator on this list. Measured dimensions are 24 x 13 x 18 inches (H x W x H) while the dry weight is 51 lbs and approximately 57 lbs on a full tank of gas.
The Ryobi comes with two handles: a fixed handle at the top aids in minor movement while a second pull out handle at the bottom allows you to push or roll the unit baggage style. You can move this generator with ease with one hand.
What’s the noise level?
With an enclosed casing providing extra sound proofing, the RYI2200 is as quiet as they come, which is why we chose it as the quietest food truck generator. Spec sheet rating for noise is 60 dBA but owner reviews suggest that it may even be lower. In short you can perfectly hold a conversation or attend to customers without screaming on top of your voice.
What about ease of use?
The RYI2200 is built to be easy to operate but every owner might have a different experience depending on how long they’ve used generators.
A pull recoil start isn’t most people’s favorite but that’s what comes with this unit. However after a couple of times using the Ryobi you should be comfortable with the recoil pull rope method.
The control panel has all the basic outlets for the type of appliances you’ll be using in a food truck.
Ryobi RYI2200 Summary
Runs extremely quiet
Very limited in power production
Produces clean power (small carbon footprint)
Short run time
Very lightweight and portable
Cannot handle very demanding operations