What Size Generator Do I Need For My Food Truck?

What Size Generator Do I Need For My Food Truck?

As a food truck owner, there are different ways to operate your food truck business. You can either, operate daily in a fixed location where the locals in the area will be familiar with your food truck.

Or you can also operate on a gig to gig basis, where you get hired for a festival, events or just catering for a company, etc. A lot of times when you are operating in a fixed location you would usually need your own generator to power your food truck.

Whereas, when doing gigs everything solely depends on the client. Some clients will provide power but most of the time you would have to bring your own power. Even when the employer provides the power, personally I still think that it is a good idea to bring your own power in case there is a power outage.

With all that said, as a food truck owner, it is important to have the right generator to power your food truck. The last thing you want to happen is to not have power during operation hours, potentially, losing on a bunch of revenue.

In this article, we will help you understand the amount of power your generator needs to run your food truck operation.

Understanding Loads

Depending on the type of electrical appliances that you are using in your food truck business. The type of load differs depending on the type of electrical appliances used.

Knowing the different loads will be very helpful. It will help you in determining the amount of power your generator needs to run your food truck business.

The 2 different types of loads are:

Reactive Load – Reactive Load is when the current is not in phase with the voltage. This means that the electrical appliance needs a higher power to start in comparison to the power it uses when it is running.

Resistive Load – Resistive load is when the current is in phase with the voltage. This means that the electrical appliance starts with the same power and remains running on the same power.

Electrical appliances that have a reactive load are usually appliances that have an electric motor installed. Examples, air conditioners, blenders, and refrigerators.

On the other hand, resistive load is found in electrical appliances that generate heat such as microwaves, light bulbs, and toasters.

The Number of Appliances Needed/Used

The type of food truck business that you are running determines the type of food and drinks you sell, and that determines type of electrical appliances that are needed and used.

So, you want to make a list of electrical appliances that your food truck needs. Then the next thing you want to do is understand the power or watts needed to operate these electrical appliances.

Here’ an example of commonly used appliances in electrical appliance average watts:

Blender 500-850

Coffee Pot 850-1150

Microwave 750-1100

Light Bulbs 13-100

Fan 11-165

Refrigerator 450-1100

Why do you want to know the watts required for the electrical appliances that you need? It is so that you are able to calculate the overall power needed and buy the right generator for it.

Also, it is important to note that, the power requirement for electrical appliances is usually listed in amp while generators are listed in watts. So, in order to calculate the required power, you want to convert everything into the same power unit (watts).

The formula for that is: Watts = Voltage x Amps

Calculating The Requirement Power

After you gathered all the electrical appliances needed and listed all the required power. The next thing you need to do is to just add them all together and you will get the amount of output power your generator needs to draw.

(Note: Add the starting watts for reactive load appliances)

Some Required Electrical Appliances To Operate A Food Truck:

Refrigerator – 1250 (Starting Watts), 192 (Running Watts)

Freezer (Small) – 550 (Starting Watts), 350(Running Watts)

Blender – 650 (Starting Watts), 250(Running Watts)

6 Light Bulbs – 350 (Running and Starting Watts)

Toaster – 250 (Running and Starting Watts)

Overall required power = 1,250 + 550 + 650 + 350 + 250 = 3.050 watts


Based on the example above, the required power output that a generator needs to produce would be 3,050 watts. However, you don’t want to get a generator that outputs the exact amount of power needed.

Because as the electrical appliances get older, the more inefficient it will get. What this means is that the same electrical appliance from 5 years back may need more power output to run now (slightly). So, get a generator that is higher than the required power.

It also depends if you have plans to maybe expand your menu. If you are planning to do so, and thinking of bringing in more electrical appliances in the future, then you would want to get a more powerful generator, so that you don’t need to replace it for a new one after 1 year or so.

Alternatively, if you this is just too overwhelming to do yourself you can always consult an expert to get a recommendation. We can help with that, just shoot us a message from our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

It is advisable to at least understand and do some calculation on your own in my opinion. That way you protect yourself against making an uniformed buying decision.

Other Things To Look Into

1.Adhering The Emission Standards

If you are using a generator that pulls fuel from an on-board fuel tank. Then it is okay to use a standard gas-fueled generator. But, if the generator that you use has its own dedicated fuel tank. Then you have to install an EVAP generator.

It is important to understand this as it could potentially put you in jeopardy of receiving a hefty fine. So, do a little research with your local authorities pre-purchase.

2.Installing The Generator Properly

Ensuring the space you are making for the generator fits the generator. The last thing you want to do is buy a generator that does not fit the provided space. Making sure all the wiring is set up correctly to avoid any unnecessary problems like wire shortages.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of everything that goes in to picking the perfect generator for your food truck.