A decade ago, when solar panels were just starting to get popular, it would’ve been crazy to imagine that you might be able to run your food truck exclusively with solar panels one day. Fortunately, massive advances in technology have now made it completely possible to run your food truck with solar panels.
In this article, we will talk about the things you need to consider before switching to solar energy for your truck, the benefits of using portable solar panels to power your food truck, and a lot more. Continue reading to get the most updated and in-depth knowledge about using solar panels for your food truck.
Things to Consider Before Using Solar Power for Food Trucks
There are plenty of things you need to think of when you’re debating if a solar-powered food truck is going to be an excellent option for your business.
1. Your Equipment
Before investing in solar panels, it’s important to consider the kind of food truck you run. Different appliances need different energy levels, and depending on your food truck, you could be looking at a vast range of energy estimates.
For instance, if you’re serving burgers and hotdogs during the day, you might just need a small grill along with a cooler, all of which can easily be powered with a small portable solar panel. However, if you run a more high-end food truck offering various heated items in the evening, you might need an oven, multiple large grills, a freezer, and a cooler. For this, you might need a larger portable solar panel system.
Thus, you can see that your energy requirements will differ a lot depending on the appliances your solar food truck needs. In light of this, the first step you should take when deciding whether or not to retrofit your food truck with solar is to measure the number of kilowatt hours of electricity you’re presently using. Depending on the number, you will have a proper estimate of how much energy you need to generate every day to meet your energy requirements.
2. The Location of Your Food Truck
When retrofitting food trucks with solar panels, many food truck owners don’t consider where they’ll park their food trucks daily. However, this is the most important thing one needs to think of when planning to switch to solar. If you park your food truck in the same place every day, ask yourself if your truck is getting direct sunlight throughout the time you will be serving food. You can think about this based on your angle and location. If your answer is no, you might have to move your truck to a new location.
3. Backup Power Equipment
Even if you park your solar truck in a spot that receives plenty of sunlight, you should still keep a backup portable solar generator in case something unpredictable happens. You surely don’t want to be stuck without electricity due to a rainstorm, not able to serve your customers because you don’t have a generator. It’s extremely important to plan not only the best-case scenario but the worst-case as well to ensure you’re ready for anything when you head out to work. Being prepared for the worst-case scenario is something that’s important in any business, particularly for people in the service industry.
You might just get a single chance to impress a customer, and if you’re not able to serve them because your portable solar panels aren’t generating sufficient energy, you might end up losing them for life. Making sure that you have dependable energy regardless of the situation is of prime importance, and while solar panels can be an excellent investment, it’s essential to think about backup energy from a portable solar generator as well.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need to Power Your Food Truck?
Here are the steps you need to follow to determine the number of solar panels you need to power your food truck.
1. Calculate the Energy Your Food Truck Needs
To determine the number of required solar panels you need, you need to start off by calculating your food truck’s daily energy consumption.
Thus, depending on the equipment you require, you can determine your everyday energy requirement. You can get the values for most of the appliances on the tag nameplate or appliance nameplate.
Apart from that, the starting and operating voltage, wattage, and current in amperes will also be mentioned in the user manual of the appliance. Therefore, you can easily calculate the energy your mobile food truck requires. Here’s what you need to determine the daily energy consumption:
- Determine the number of watts you need to run your food truck.
- Determine the number of hours you run your food truck daily
- Multiply the number of hours run every day by the food truck wattage.
Let’s calculate together
Wattage needs are going to vary. However, most food trucks use a 5000 to 7000 watt portable solar generator to safely run all their devices and appliances.
The time duration you wish to run the truck every day is another thing you need to pay attention to. If you only want to operate the truck for four hours every day, you won’t require nearly as much capacity as if you plan to serve at all-day events.
For this example, we will use a regular 6 hours per day.
Thus, to run a food truck for 6 hours, you will require (5000 x 6) = 30 kilowatt-hours from the solar system every day in the minimum case.
2. Calculate the Daily Solar Panel Energy Production
The quickest and simplest method to calculate this is to divide the wattage of your solar panels by the direct sunlight hours you get every day.
For instance, if you have a food truck in California, you might get 5.82 hours of peak sunlight. In this case, you will require(30000 / 5.82) 5154-watt solar panels.
Thus, to run your food truck, you will need a 5000-watt solar generator or 25 250-watt solar panels.
Benefits of Solar-Powered Food Trucks
Solar food trucks are one of the best inventions of the green food movement, and it sure looks like they are here to stay.
When we talk about the benefits of a solar food truck, the first and most significant benefit is related to the cost. For a lot of food truck owners, portable solar panels are a cost-effective source of energy. In fact, switching to portable solar panels allows food truck owners to save cold hard cash – even up to $1,000 every month.
Gas-powered generators provide light and heat and power appliances such as refrigerators, electric stoves, etc. Buying gas for the generators makes up a significant and unavoidable monthly expense. On the other hand, solar panels installed on the roof of a truck are a one-time investment, and food truck owners can even get a profit by selling extra energy back to solar companies.
Moreover, it’s a well-known fact that fuel, diesel, or propane generators are great pollutants, and many eco-conscious food truck owners are now switching to solar energy. Portable solar panels and solar power generators are excellent off-grid alternative energy sources for food preparation and light.
A portable solar generator is the only generator that’s safe for indoor use as it doesn’t use fossil fuels and, therefore, doesn’t emit any fumes. In fact, a lot of models, including the ones offered by BLUETTI, have a rechargeable battery without an engine and are virtually silent generators.
Thanks to their lightweight feature, several solar-powered generators are extremely portable. You can easily carry them around in case you plan to change the location of your food truck. Some of them are also foldable, so you can fold them and keep them inside your truck when not in use.
All in all, these eco-friendly food trucks have been increasing in popularity over the past ten years. In fact, the mayor of New York City even launched an initiative in 2015 to get 500 more solar-powered food trucks on the streets by the next year. With several benefits that include a lower carbon footprint, reduced operating costs, and increased visibility of the growing sustainable living movement, there is no good reason for food truck owners to say no to moving to solar energy.
Solar-Powered Food Trucks in the US
A lot of food truck owners are taking their sustainability initiatives to the next level by investing in solar power for food trucks. Here’s a list of some of the most popular solar-powered food trucks in the US.
- Solar Crepes – Arlington, VA
The food truck uses organic and local food from sustainable sources. They even pack their food in environmentally friendly wrappers. Their food truck uses a 90-watt solar panel that generates around 590 watts hours of energy daily.
- Off the Griddle - Portland, OR
This burger joint serves vegetarian and vegan food using organic and natural ingredients. Their truck is run entirely by renewable energy, and the excess power generated by the rooftop solar panels is bought by Portland General Electric.
- The Green Truck – NYC, San Diego, Los Angeles
The food truck serves sustainable, regional cuisine, including vegetarian and vegan dishes. It uses solar power to run its kitchens, supplying excess energy back to the energy grid.
Last Few Words
Over the past ten years, these eco-friendly solar-powered food trucks have become increasingly popular. There is no reason for food truck owners to overlook the benefits of solar energy, which include lower carbon emissions and reduced operating costs.
At BLUETTI, we have a vast range of portable solar If you run a food truck and are looking for portable solar panels and solar generators, you can check out our products.
For instance, you can get our Solar Generator Kit that contains BLUETTI AC200MAX + 2*B230 + 3*PV200. The kit is a 2,200-watt AC pure sine wave inverter that can support a 4,800 watt surge. Moreover, it has a 2,048 watt-hour capacity and can be charged in seven different ways, including car, solar, AC, generator, dual ac, solar + AC, and lead battery. Last but not least, the solar kit has a LiFePO4 battery with 3500+ life cycles to 80%. You can check out our other products here: