What Size Generator Do You Need For A Food Truck?

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You typically need at least a 4500 peak watt generator for small food trucks, a 7000 peak watt generator for medium food trucks, and a 7000+ peak watt generator for large food trucks.

In practice, food truck power needs can vary a lot depending on the appliances, appliance sizes, and device brands inside of them.

To get a somewhat better idea of the ideal food truck generator size in your situation, you can check the chart with wattage estimations below.

However, keep in mind that these numbers are not perfect for every single device in the category. Ideally, you would check your specific brands and sizes.

Amps and volts needs can be important too.

After that, you can follow the steps below the chart to estimate how big your food truck generator should be.

Food truck wattage chart

To find out what size generator you need for your food truck you want to get an idea of the power needs inside it.

The chart below includes some rough estimations of how many running and starting watts certain food truck devices need according to Honda and Don Rowe.

Food Truck DeviceRunning WattsAdditional
Starting Watts
Total
Starting Watts
Air Fryer1600 Watts1600 Watts
Blender400 Watts450 Watts850 Watts
Coffee Maker600 Watts600 Watts
Countertop Food Warmer1500 Watts1500 Watts
Deep Fryer
(Dual Commercial)
5000 Watts5000 Watts
Deep Fryer (Small)1500 Watts1500 Watts
Dishwasher220 Watts320 Watts540 Watts
Electric Frying Pan1500 Watts1500 Watts
Electric Grill1650 Watts1650 Watts
Electric Oven3500 Watts3500 Watts
Electric Range
(8-inch element)
2100 Watts2100 Watts
Electric Skillet1250 Watts1250 Watts
Exhaust Hood300 Watts300 Watts
Food Processor1000 Watts1000 Watts
Hot Plate1250 Watts1250 Watts
Ice Maker300 Watts300 Watts
Incandescent Light Bulbs60 Watts60 Watts
Microwave Oven (650 Watts)1000 Watts1000 Watts
Microwave Oven (800 Watts)1300 Watts1300 Watts
Microwave Oven (1000 Watts)1500 Watts1500 Watts
Portable Fan40 Watts80 Watts120 Watts
Pressure Cooker1200 Watts1200 Watts
Radiant Heater1300 Watts1300 Watts
RadioUp to 200 WattsUp to 200 Watts
Refrigerator800 Watts1400 Watts2200 Watts
Slow Cooker270 Watts270 Watts
Toaster1200 Watts1200 Watts
Waffle Iron1000 Watts1000 Watts
Food truck wattage estimations chart

Keep in mind that your brands and/or device capacities could have different power needs.

The numbers above are not perfect for every single device in the category.

Additionally, some food truck devices also need a minimum number of amps or volts which can influence your generator choice too.

So when in doubt, you want to check the exact wattage needs with your favorite brands/retailers and/or implement a margin of safety.

How to figure out your food truck generator size

To figure out the ideal food truck generator size you have to take the following steps:

  1. Note down what food truck appliances you will use at the same time together with their wattage needs.
  2. Add up the continuous watts of the strongest combination. Your generator will need at least this many (and preferably at least 10% more) running watts to power your food truck.

After these steps, you can go two ways depending on how accurate you want to be.

A more detailed sequence is:

  1. Rank your food truck devices from highest starting watts to lowest.
  2. Calculate the amount of peak watts you would need to handle this startup sequence.

A more straightforward method that results in a food truck generator that is likely a bit too big (which can be good in terms of safety margin) is:

  1. Make a sum of the running watts of the strongest food device combination that will run at once.
  2. Add the highest additional starting watts on the list to the sum.
  3. Your food truck generator will need at least this many peak watts.

Again, keep in mind that a good calculator and the right steps will not make up for suboptimal watt needs.

It tends to be smart to figure out the power needs of your specific food truck equipment and add a margin of safety.

What type of generator do you need for a food truck?

You typically need an inverter generator or other low THD generator for a food truck. What fuel your food truck locations will typically have influences your decision in this feature.

First of all, you typically want to go for an inverter generator or other low THD model.

These will be necessary to run sensitive electronics like a microwave, coffee machines, certain refrigerators, etc. safely.

After that, you have multiple fuel types you can consider for your fuel truck generator.

For portable generators, this will often mean choosing between gasoline-only, dual fuel (propane too), and tri fuel (propane and natural gas too).

More specifically, gasoline-only and dual fuel will typically be the best for food truck generators.

Your choice will depend on things like how often you set out with your food truck and how easily you can get each fuel type in your event locations.

There are diesel generators too but these tend to be not that food truck friendly due to their limited mobility.

Solar generators sound nice on paper too but in practice, they tend to offer watt amounts that are too small for food trailers.

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Author:

Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.