Best Generator for Food Trucks 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
If you’ve dreamed of having your own food truck, there’s so much to know about getting it up and running as a successful business venture. Perhaps you own a restaurant and want a mobile arm of the business. You’ll need to know how to make your business run successfully when it’s off the grid.
Refrigerators, stoves, ovens, microwaves, coffee pots, and other small appliances need electricity, and the way to provide that is with a generator. Choosing one can be especially challenging if you don’t know much about them.
As an investment in your business, making the right choice for your needs and budget will take research. We’re here to help with reviews of our top five picks for the best generator for a food truck.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Atima AY2000i Inverter Generator||
|Best Value||Champion 46596||
|Premium Choice||Honda Eu7000is||
The 5 Best Generators for Food Trucks
1. Atima Portable Inverter Generator – Best Overall
Kicking us off is the Atima Portable Inverter Generator, ready to roll with 2,000 watts of running power in a Yamaha engine. Yamaha has a reputation for building top-of-the-line engines. This model will hold up well to supplying power to appliances in a food truck. However, be careful if you want to hook up an A/C unit. Depending on its BTUs of the A/C unit could overload the generator.
The Atima is lightweight and easily portable even without wheels, as it weighs around 50 pounds. If you need to hook to another generator, it has parallel capability. On the downside, this model is a gas-only version, so hooking to natural gas or propane is not an option. Additionally, while it has a four-hour runtime with a full load, the gas tank only holds one gallon, so you’ll need to have refills on standby. On the upside, this is less deafening model. ranging from 52 to 61 decibels.
All-in-all, for the price and the options, we rank this generator as our best overall choice.
2. Champion RV Portable Generator – Best Value
Up next is the Champion 46596 RV Ready Portable Generator with 4,000 starting watts and 3,500 running watts. A nice touch with this mid-sized model is the volt guard preventing overloads from voltage spikes, which could damage appliances. It has a generously sized gas tank that holds nearly four gallons and has a 12-hour runtime at a 50% load. Unfortunately, it’s a gas-only model and unable to convert to natural gas or propane.
There are a few other disadvantages with this pick. With no wheels, you may need help transporting it, as it weighs about 100 pounds, though a wheel kit is available for purchase. This generator isn’t an electric start model and requires the dexterity to pull the manual recoil. It also doesn’t have parallel capabilities, so it won’t connect to another generator.
For the price and power, this is our best value choice.
3. Honda Eu7000is Inverter Generator – Premium Choice
The Honda Eu7000is Inverter Generator is our premium choice, by which we meant that it’s expensive, but Honda has a solid reputation for its products, and this generator is no different. This model has a fuel injector system and engine, putting out 7,000 max watts, 5,000 running watts, and five gallons of fuel capacity. It also provides a 12-hour runtime at full load and a push-button start, and a remote starter is also available.
It’s important to note that this unit is an inverter generator, which generally costs more and has more power than a conventional generator. These types provide easier portability, fuel efficiency, less noise, clean electricity, and parallel capability. The higher cost may be out of budget for a homeowner needing a standby generator; however, for business, the price is more suitable.
Although there are many good qualities about this generator, there are also a couple of negatives. It’s expensive but could be considered a durable investment. At over 250 pounds, it’s heavy but does have wheels.
This machine is well-known for how quiet it runs, which is a big plus. It has conversion and parallel capabilities. For all its offerings, we choose this model as our premium choice.
4. WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator
The WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator is likely better suited for a tailgate gathering than a food truck unless you have minimal appliances. The power supply is 2,000 starting watts and 1,600 running watts, with an 80cc engine with three receptacles and a USB port. It will run approximately three and a half hours fully loaded; however, the fuel capacity is only one gallon, so refill preparation is necessary. A conversion kit for propane is available, and it’s also parallel compatible should you need to connect to another generator.
This conveniently compact generator is less than 50 pounds and has a carrying handle for portability. It’s a quieter model that doesn’t exceed 60 decibels. As an inverter generator, it produces clean energy without voltage spikes and is noticeably silent. It also offers an eco-mode, allowing the motor to adjust fuel consumption as necessary, depending on the items plugged in for use. There is no electric starter, so you’ll need to yank on the recoil starter to get it going. Using this generator for portable radio communications will prove to be frustrating due to static interference.
5. Generac 5735 Gas Portable Generator
Last but not least is the Generac 5735 GP17500E Gas Powered Portable Generator. This powerhouse supplies 26,250 starting watts and 17,500 running watts to run anything in a food truck you could throw at it. Honestly, it has enough power to support a three-bedroom house without a problem. With a 16-gallon fuel tank, this beast will run for 10 straight hours at a 50% load. It has an electric start with an included battery and a recoil starter as a backup.
Although the manufacturer doesn’t rate the decibel levels for this model, the noise level is tolerable. While this is a powerful model, it may be more powerful than you’ll ever need for a food truck, though that’s not necessarily a negative aspect.
This industrial generator weighs in at 390 pounds but is portable with hefty wheels and handlebar grips. It would be convenient if the grips could fold down for storage purposes, but they don’t. If you consider this model, you’ll want to look into truck ramps as well, depending on where it needs to be moved.
There are a few things to keep in mind when researching generators for your food truck, such as power output, fuel capacity, portability, fuel type, noise level, and warranty.
When determining how much running wattage you need from a generator, consider what will need to be connected for power. Add up the wattages of your appliances to make sure you’ll have enough power supply. Figuring this out isn’t difficult if you know the computation, as many appliances will give the needed power in voltage or amps. Always remember that volts x amps = watts. An appliance plugged into a 120v outlet requiring 20 amps would pull 2,400 watts.
Most food trucks will need 5,000 to 7,000 running watts, and it’s better to have too much than not enough power available. Once you calculate how much you need, it will be easier to identify potential generator options.
The fuel capacity of a generator will let you know how long it can run. The larger the gas tank, the longer runtime it will provide. You’ll want a model to match your needs so there is no downtime during rush hour.
Determine how often a generator will need to move. For heavy models, wheels are ideal. Also, keep in mind that the more a generator provides, the bigger it will be. You’ll need to have space to accommodate the model you need. Portability is an essential factor when time is money.
Some models will only run on gasoline. Other models have conversion kits available for propane. When deciding your preference, it’s important to understand the relationship between fuel and power. Propane is cheaper to run but provides less power. Gasoline costs more but offers more power. It ultimately depends on your appliance requirements and power needed.
Depending on where you’ll be taking your food truck to serve patrons, you’ll want a quieter model so you can have a conversation without yelling. Being able to hear orders without interruption allows for efficiency and less annoyance and will keep your line moving quickly.
Be sure to understand the warranty for any model you’re considering. Many manufacturers have separate warranties for residential and business use, usually with the business use having a shorter timeframe.
It’s important to note a couple of additional items regarding emissions and safety.
Many generators are not available for sale in California if they’re not CARB compliant. CARB, or the California Air Resources Board, is a state environmental protection agency focusing on emissions associated with small engine equipment. For generators to meet CARB regulations, they must meet stringent air quality standards. CARB monitors dangerous gases, including nitrogen oxides, sulfuric oxides, carbon monoxide, organic gases, and particulate matter. Please be aware of this when researching models if you live in California.
Generators that run on gasoline will produce exhaust and aren’t for inside use. Exhaust containing carbon monoxide can be dangerous if not outside. Some generators on the market today have a built-in sensor to trigger an automatic shut-off if carbon monoxide levels build up, but others don’t. Please use caution so as not to cause harm to yourself and others.
There’s so much to understand about generators before making a purchase. We hope our reviews of the top five generators have helped you sort out a few possibilities. As a quick reminder, our best overall choice is the Atima Portable Inverter Generator with its Yamaha engine. This model is affordable, compact, and available to California residents. The Champion 46596 RV Ready Portable Generator is our best value pick with an economical price, large gas tank, and decent running wattage. If budget isn’t a hindrance, the Honda Eu7000is Inverter Generator is our premium choice with a long runtime, large gas tank, and many bells and whistles. We wish you all the best with your food truck dreams and bringing great food to many people. Keep on rolling!
Featured Image Credit By: Pink Food Truck, Flickr
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 5 Best Generators for Food Trucks
- Buyer’s Guide