Driving your food truck around town should be a seamless, safe, and, most importantly, easy thing to do. Once you’re out there, your vehicle has to be able to run by itself, and you shouldn’t have to worry about a thing. All the elements that make up the truck have to function and run individually, without needing outside power sources. After all, you need each and every one of your devices to be perfectly able to deliver whatever it is you need from them, without any concerns.
The only way to achieve and ensure this is with electrical generators and propane tanks. Unless you find yourself in a place that happens to provide electrical power or gas hook-ups, you need to be sure your food truck works flawlessly, and on its own.
If you own one of these vehicles, you probably carry two or more devices in like toasters, refrigerating systems, cash registers, food processors, electric grills, and so on. These appliances are fed by portable generators, and they can either be found by the truck’s side, connected by electric ports, or inside the vehicle itself, in a specific cubicle made to shelter the generators, away from anyone’s eyes and ears (which is a plus, considering how loud these generators can be).
In order to decide exactly how much wattage, you need your generator to have, you need to know your equipment. Take your time to make a list of everything you own and check the specifications each item has (the instruction manual will provide you with this information).
It’s not enough to find out what these specifications are in terms of electrical concerns. The quantity of propane you will need for your vehicle should also be a main concern, otherwise you incur in the risk of running out of power at the worst possible time. Just imagine you have thirty customers waiting in line for one of your amazing burgers and milkshakes, but you miscalculated the amount of propane you would need, and, suddenly, the whole thing goes into shutdown. Not the kind of situation you want to find yourself in, right?
Well, if you want to avoid this from happening, there’s a few steps you have to go through.
So, what you have to know is that you will simultaneously use the tank’s BTU ratings and the ratings for your gas-run devices to figure out the amount of time a given propane gas tank will power your food truck. Remember, the BTU ratings of any device estimate that they’ll be used at full power, like a blender running on high the entire time.
First things first, you have to find out the size of your propane tank. You might have to use a little math for this, and measure both its height and diameter, excluding the collars in both ends.
A few examples of the usual tank sizes include:
- 20lb tank = 18 inches high x 12.5 inch diameter
- 30lb tank = 24 inches high x 12.5 inch diameter
- 40lb tank = 29 inches high x 12.5 inch diameter
- 100lb tank = 48 inches high x 14.5 inch diameter
After you learn the size of your tank, it’s time to determine the BTU scope once it’s full.
Several tank sizes obviously mean different scopes, for example:
- 20lb tank = 430,270 BTU
- 30lb tank = 649,980 BTU
- 40lb tank = 860,542 BTU
- 100lb tank = 2,160,509 BTU
Now you need to know the ratings for the appliances you own that are powered by propane. This is quite an easy piece of information to gather, since it’s usually placed somewhere on the object; but if for any reason you can’t find it, go back to the manual or go straight to the source and speak to the maker. Quick tip, next time you buy a new appliance, keep the manual in an easy to remember place so you won’t have to run around trying to get a hold of the manufacturer.
Time for a little more math – add up all the BTU ratings of your devices and divide it by your tank’s BTU. This will give you the amount of time, in hours, that the propane take will power the equipment (remember, assuming that you’re going at the highest possible intensity). Because every food truck is different and uses several kinds of different appliances and devices, standard numbers for this don’t exist. If you want to get a general idea of how much it will take for your truck in specific, you can look up each individual device you will need.
Propane Tank Safety
Propane is nothing to be played with, and you need to take serious and consistent security measures to ensure everything is A-Okay at all times. Make sure the tubes that connect the propane tank to the food truck are securely held down – never let a single hose, particularly the longer ones – just run. Additionally, the tanks that are placed outside have to be protected from harm and injury, and a good way to do this is invest in a solid and sturdy steel armor to place around the propane tank.
You can never be too careful with this, so keep a leak indicator somewhere inside the truck so you can know conditions are safe. Please remember that these tanks have to be firmly fixed on your food truck. Because they tend to have big proportions, if you happen to have an accident when driving on the road, and the tank isn’t securely tied, it can be the cause of permanent damage, not just for you, but also to anyone else who might be around. You can choose to either secure it in the back of the truck, or below it, but keep in mind that if you choose the latter option, you’ll need a saddle.
Finally, pay attention to the laws and guidelines of each place you’re in, because it may require specific security measures.