I remember at a young age, every time I saw an ice cream truck, my mind would go to Howl’s moving castle and the magic running everything behind it! Growing up years later, I figured out a portable power source was running my favorite mobile kitchens. What a surprise, huh?
Sure, you can always find a source of power at festivals, fairs, and entertainment centers. However, there’ll always be the risk of blackouts and fluctuating supply that can harm your appliances. Moreover, if you want to grow your business, you’ll have to park your truck at different locations and to do that, you’ll need a reliable generator at hand.
Forget about receiving negative reviews and losing valuable customers because of power issues. Continue reading to find the best food truck generators currently in the market, along with a comprehensive guide that will walk you through the process of choosing a model that fits your needs.
|Model||Tank capacity||Noise level||Running Watts||Run-time|
|Westinghouse WGen7500||6.6 gallons||64 dB||7500 watts||11 hours|
|Champion 100165||6.1 gallons||74 dB||7500 watts||8 hours|
|DuroMax XP12000EH||8.3 gallons||72 dB||9500 watts||4-9 hours|
|Honda EU7000iAT1||5.1 gallons||52-60 dB||5500 watts||6-18 hours|
|Westinghouse iGen4500||3.4 gallons||52 dB||3700 watts||18 hours|
|Champion 76533||3.4 gallons||68 dB||3800 watts||9 hours|
|WEN 56200i||1 gallon||53 dB||1600 watts||6 hours|
|Pulsar G2319N||1.18 gallons||59 dB||1800 watts||4.8 hours|
The 8 Best Food Truck Generators in 2020
Not all food businesses are the same. Some trucks have actual onboard kitchens that need a lot of power, while others are mobile arms for big restaurants that sell pre-prepared food.
For this reason, I gathered and reviewed several models with different features, comparing their performance, efficiency, warranty, and noise level so that you can pick your best match with ease.
1. Westinghouse WGen7500 – Best Choice
The moment my eyes fall on the name “Westinghouse,” I know I’m in good hands, but even with my expectations soaring high, this particular model managed to exceed them.
WGen7500 is a portable generator that runs on gasoline and offers reliable 7500 watts of running power and 9500 watts of surging power. The unit can power up all the lights, equipment, and appliances on your truck without a hitch, making it the best generator for food trucks with full kitchens onboard.
The 420cc OHV engine can run for 11 hours at 50% load, and the large 6.6-gallon tank is large enough to cover an entire workday. Although gasoline isn’t the most economical nor the safest fuel option, it’s more efficient. This means it’ll last you longer than propane and reduce your refilling trips.
Owing to its high power rating, the unit isn’t small in size, and with a weight of 192 pounds, it can’t be carried by one person. However, it comes with attached wheels so that you can move it easily in and out of your truck. But, you still have to consider if you have enough space for it inside your vehicle.
The unit is equipped with all the features that make running your food business a breeze. Besides the 120-volt outlet present on nearly every generator, the model offers an additional 240-volt one for heavy-duty appliances.
Instead of a manual recoil starter, it features an electric start. But what really makes this unit awesome is the included key fob that comes included, which allows you to turn the generator on and off from another location.
As for the noise level, it produces 64 decibels of noise. That doesn’t mean it’ll be completely silent, but the noise produced is bearable and won’t be noticed by your customers.
Unfortunately, its setup is a bit tricky if you don’t have experience with generators but running it is easy with the intuitive control panel. For extra safety, all the outlets are water-resistant and have rubber covers, which helps protect the unit from the frequent water splashes inside your truck. Moreover, it’s CARB compliant and features an automatic low oil shutoff.
- Long run-time
- High power rating
- Water-resistant outlets
- Remote start feature with a key fob
- Reasonably priced
- Tricky setup
- More on the hefty side
- A bit noisy
To sum it up, this model offers a high power-rating, extended run-time, remote start operation, extra safety options, as well as a three-year warranty, all within an affordable price range. So, do you need to think twice?
2. Champion 100165 – Runner-up
Champion is another trusted brand in the backup power industry, and this model isn’t less impressive than WGen7500.
With a peak power rating of 9375 watts and running power of 7500 watts, this bad boy is one of the most powerful generators. Its dual-fuel capability means it can also run on propane. If you choose to fuel it with propane, it’ll produce 8400 watts of peak power and 6750 watts of rated power, which is slightly less than what gasoline offers but equally incredible.
Although propane is cheaper, it requires more refills than gasoline. A 6.1 gasoline tank at 50% maximum output will provide 8 hours of power, while propane at 50% will only run for 5.5 hours. That means gasoline is more efficient, but the model offers you both choices so that you can choose whatever you’re more comfortable with.
Like the previous model, this unit has a user-friendly electric start, as well as an optional recoil start. However, it lacks the remote start feature that allows you to turn on the engine from a distance.
Furthermore, it features a built-in surge protector, which breaks the circuit when it detects any different current. The automatic low oil shutoff is another helpful safety feature, which shuts down the system if the oil is dangerously low or overheating.
This model would have made it to the first place if it wasn’t for its heavyweight and loud engine. Weighing 202.4 pounds, it needs multiple pairs of hands to be hauled, and the fact that it produces 74 decibels of noise isn’t a point in its favor.
It just means you’ll have a roaring machine in the background, which is not helpful when you’re trying to run a food truck in the street.
Nevertheless, the affordable price, three-year warranty, and free lifetime support offered by the company make up for this model’s disadvantages. And the fact that it’s CARB-compliant and EPA certified means you can use it in any of the 50 states without checking whether the law allows it or not.
- Dual-fuel system
- Durable steel frame
- Built-in Volt Guard Surge and low oil shutoff sensor
- Powerful engine
- Has both 120-volt and 240-volt outlets
- Three-year warranty
- Short run-time when running on propane
This model from Champion is another ideal choice for food truck owners looking for a powerful engine that can run all their appliances continuously. It’s reliable, versatile, affordable, and provides all the safety features to protect against overloads and crazy power surges.
3. DuroMax XP12000EH – Most Powerful
Generally, food trucks could operate at 7000 watts to run all the onboard appliances. However, if you use more than one power-hungry equipment like refrigerators, water heaters, and air conditioners, you definitely need more power.
This bad boy from Duromax provides 12000 watts peak and 9500 watts of running power. It can run several devices that eat much power and save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.
Like the previous Champion model, it operates both 120-volt and 240-volt devices and works on either fuel or propane. Besides being the most powerful unit on my list, it incorporates the largest fuel tank with a capacity of 8.3 gallons.
However, due to the massive power consumption, its run-time isn’t long. It works for 9 hours at 50% load when operating on gasoline and 4 hours when propane is used. That means despite the large tank capacity, your refilling trips will still be more frequent.
Another downside of its powerful motor is that the unit’s overall weight is 221 pounds, which means it’s impossible to be manually lifted. Yet, it comes with a wheel kit and a folding handle to ease the process. Moreover, it produces 72 decibels of noise, which isn’t the quietest but still quieter than Champion 100165.
The model is CARB-compliant and incorporates all the essential safety features like the low oil indicator and overload protector. It also has a 12-volt DC outlet to facilitate charging and integrates an analog voltmeter to show you how much power your appliances are eating.
However, it’d have been better if it had an electric start button rather than the conventional pull-start mechanism that requires lots of yanking on the coil to start.
To hold this much wattage, the unit boasts an all-metal open-frame design that can live up to the abuse of outdoor use. Although it’s a bit pricier than other models, all its parts are made of high-quality materials and covered with a three-year warranty from the company.
- Incredibly high power rating
- Large tank capacity
- Automatic low oil shutoff and surge protector
- Flexibility of fuel choice
- Three-year warranty
- Durable construction
- Low fuel efficiency
- Heavy and takes a large place
- Louder than most generators
- No electric start mechanism
I always believe that investing in a powerful unit early on proves itself to be a bargain in the long run. If you’re planning on expanding your menu offerings later or adding a few more equipment, this workhorse of a generator is your best choice.
4. Honda EU7000iAT1 – Best Bang for the Buck
Honda is known for its high-end generators that incorporate ultra-silent motors and advanced features, so let’s see what this model has in store for food truck owners.
With a 5500-watt motor that can handle surges up to 7000 watts, the unit can run all your power-sucking appliances simultaneously. It also comes with 120-volt and 240-volt outlets to accommodate all your equipment.
Although the 5.1-gallon gasoline tank isn’t the biggest, the model is fuel-efficient, and its run-time can reach up to 18 hours at 25% load. That means it can last a full day of work before it demands a refill; maybe even two days if you use light devices.
Like all Honda models, this unit is super-silent with a noise level of 52 decibels. You can talk to customers and chat about your new recipes without any disturbing noise coming from your truck.
Powerful generators tend to be large and heavy, yet this model only weighs 51.3 pounds and boasts a decent size that can fit in small trucks without making it severely cramped. To make it even better, it’s set up with wheels and folding handles so that you can lift and push with them, so it offers lots of bells and whistles that make it worth every penny.
The highlight of these is the Eco-throttle system that allows the unit to modulate its speed, producing only the amount of power needed to run the appliances in use. That means if you switch off a power-hungry device like the water heater, it’ll reduce the power produced, saving you a lot of energy and money in the process.
Another feature is the advanced inverter technology that adjusts the power supply frequency so that your sensitive electronics don’t suffer damage. It also incorporates a push-button start, parallel processing feature, an oil indicator to let you know when the oil is dangerously low, as well as an LCD screen to show you your usage.
- Long run-time
- Three-year warranty
- High fuel efficiency
- Eco-throttle system and inverter technology
- Compact and portable
- Silent operation
- Not CARB-compliant
- No Bluetooth or remote tracking
- No USB outlet
- Lacks a 12-volt DC outlet
This model stands up for the competition with its energy-saving capabilities and high power output. If you can spare the expenses and want an advanced generator backed with a three-year warranty, EU7000iAT1 is your best choice.
5. Westinghouse iGen4500 – Best Silent Generator
iGen4500 is another impressive model from Westinghouse that has made it to my list, but what makes it stand out from the crowd is its silent motor. Forget about the nasty headaches you get from the constant rumbling noise in your truck because this model produces only 52 decibels of noise.
However, that’s not the only merit you get from buying this model. The 224cc four-stroke engine provides 3700 watts of running power and 4500 watts of starting power. This is enough to run a food truck that doesn’t incorporate a lot of equipment that sucks up energy.
It runs on gasoline, and the tank can take up to 3.4 gallons. Thanks to the gasoline’s efficiency and the unit’s economy mode, it can run for 18 hours at 25% load, which means you won’t have to worry about refills in the middle of your workday.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature a 240-volt outlet, yet it has a 120-volt outlet, a 12-volt DC outlet, and two USB charging ports for your small electronics.
Weighing 97 pounds, it’s not as light as the previous Honda model. However, it’s relatively portable with the attached set of wheels and carrying handles that can be folded so that you can store the unit in your truck without taking much space.
Like WGen7500, the model features a push-to-start function with a key fob, which is a handy feature for food truck owners who are always in motion and want to control their unit remotely. Furthermore, it integrates an LED to show the fuel level, voltage output, and remaining run-time.
Price-wise, the model isn’t expensive and offers a warranty for one year. Although it lacks some safety features, it’s CARB-compliant, which means it meets California’s indoor air quality standards.
- Completely silent operation
- Amazing fuel efficiency
- Electric start with a key fob
- Two USB ports and a 12-volt DC outlet
- Extended run-time
- Adequate portability
- One-year warranty
- Lacks some safety features
- Longevity issues
- Mediocre power rating
- No outlet for 240-volt devices
iGen4500 is the ideal choice for truck owners who don’t have many appliances on their vehicle and want a completely silent and fuel-efficient machine with minimum operating costs.
6. Champion 76533 – Best Backup Generator
If you have a continuous power supply for your food truck and only want a generator as a backup, then you might want to consider this model.
Champion 76533 is rated for 3700 watts of continuous power and 4500 watts of surge power, which are enough to power up your lights, refrigerator, stove, and other kitchen appliances.
It incorporates a 3.4-gallon tank that can be filled with either gasoline or propane. The use of propane is actually crucial because if you’re going to use it as a backup, that means you’re going to store the fuel for some time until its next usage. Luckily, propane doesn’t degrade when left for a long time and doesn’t harm your engine if left in the tank for a while.
As for the run-time, the unit provides 9 hours of continuous power supply, which is enough to cover more than one blackout. Since you’ll be moving your unit from its storage place in the truck to where it’s supposed to work, the model weighs 122 pounds.
It’s still heavy to be hauled by one person, but with the aid of the attached wheels and the folding handles, you can move it from one place to another without a hassle. Moreover, it boasts a steel frame that can take a beating to endure continuous transportation and movement.
Since the unexpected surges through the power line can damage your appliances, this model is equipped with an overload protector. It also features an automatic low oil shutoff for extra safety. As for the noise level, it produces 68 decibels of noise, which is slightly louder than a normal conversation between two people.
Overall, the model is a great bargain, being CARB-compliant and backed with three years of warranty. It’s easy to use and operate thanks to the electric push start mechanism and the intelligauge that displays the voltage, frequency, and remaining run-time.
- Dual-fuel operation
- Adequate run-time
- Three-year warranty
- Tough and sturdy design
- A bit loud
- No 240-volt outlet
- Longevity issues
Champion 76533 is an affordable generator that operates on both gas and propane and offers enough power to run your appliances in case of an outage. If a backup generator is what’s in your mind, look no further than this model.
7. WEN 56200i – Budget Choice
It’s a fact that managing a business depletes one’s resources, and not all food truck owners are sitting on a pile of cash. That’s why I present you with the most affordable solution for power outages: WEN 56200i.
At an extremely affordable price, you can get a CARB-compliant gasoline-generator that offers 2000 watts of starting power and 1600 watts of running power.
Although it’s not powerful enough to run power-hungry appliances, it can keep your food truck working in the event of blackouts. Moreover, it can be connected to another powerful generator thanks to its parallel capabilities.
At a weight of 48 pounds, the model can be easily moved in and out of your truck with the help of the attached carrying handle. Featuring a 1-gallon tank and 6 hours of run-time at 50% load, the model is suitable for light usage. Thanks to its 53-decibel sound level, noise won’t be a problem since it’s quieter than your home air conditioner.
It comes with a 12-volt DC port for charging batteries and a USB port for your small devices. Although it doesn’t cost much, it incorporates high-end features like the Eco-throttle system found on the most expensive model in this list. This mode allows the generator to adjust its fuel consumption as items are plugged and unplugged.
- Extremely quiet operation
- 12-volt DC and USB ports
- Features Eco-throttle mode
- Parallel processing
- No 240-volt outlet
- No electric starter
- Mediocre power rating
- Small fuel capacity
All in all, WEN 56200i is an affordable generator that will pay for itself after a couple of hours of a power outage. It operates quietly, saves energy, and can be easily moved around. And the two-year warranty that comes included is the cherry on top.
8. Pulsar G2319N – Most Compact
At first glance, Pulsar G2319N doesn’t look like a generator. That’s because it boasts a compact suitcase design that’s uniquely portable and doesn’t occupy much space with its footprint that measures 19.7 x 11.22 x 17.91 inches. It also comes at a weight of 47 pounds, making it the lightest unit on this list.
Despite the small size, this champion is loaded with plenty of power and features to get you through a storm. It runs on gasoline and offers 1800 watts of running power and handles surges up to 2300 watts. That makes it the perfect choice if you’re looking for an affordable and portable unit to power up a few appliances in your truck.
The model works for up to 4.8 hours and consumes 1.18 gallons of gasoline on each refill, which isn’t a point in its favor since you’ll have to refill it more often. I’d have preferred if they used an electric start instead of the recoil since I have to pull many times for the engine to start, especially when it’s cold. But at this unit’s price point, I can’t really complain.
It has a noise rating of 59 decibels, which means no distractions or insufferable headaches. It also incorporates a low-oil sensor to alert you when the fuel is dangerously low.
Owing to its parallel capabilities, the unit is a good option if you want to increase your power supply without upgrading to a new expensive one. And the fact that it’s CARB-compliant makes it a safe choice. Nevertheless, it’d have been better if the model comes with a warranty like the other models.
- Light and compact design
- Ideal for small appliances
- Parallel processing
- Produces mild noise
- No electric start
- Mid-range power
- Short run-time
- No warranty
If you’re short on space, Pulsar G2319N is your best pick. The unit features a compact design, parallel capability, oil sensors as well as a variety of outlets, which makes it a great buy at such low cost.
Factors to Look for in a Food Truck Generator
Picking a generator for a food truck isn’t like choosing one for home use or large facilities. You need a machine customized to your needs. While the amount of power supplied to your truck is the primary factor, there are many other factors to consider before making your final shopping decision. So let’s take a look at them!
The first thing you should consider when buying a generator is the number of appliances you’re going to use. Usually, food trucks are equipped with power-hungry appliances like refrigerators, freezers, stoves, ovens, and microwaves. The power supplied by your chosen model should cover the wattage of all the items on board.
Therefore, always check the running wattage and peak wattage of the machine. The former is the continuous power provided by the generator to keep your appliances working while the latter is the starting watts needed to turn on motor-driven appliances like freezers and air conditioners.
To calculate the power supply you need, multiply the voltage of each item by the amperage of the circuit (watt = volt x amp). For example, if the appliance uses 120 volts, and the current is 10 amperes, this appliance will draw 1200 watts. Apply the same calculation on all your devices. The sum of all the results will be the amount of running power you need.
Most food trucks run on 5000 to 7000-watt generators if they have an entire portable kitchen inside. However, if you use fewer devices, a power output of 1000-4000 watts should suffice.
Fuel Capacity and Run-time
You don’t want to lose power abruptly during rush hour, and refilling your reservoir every couple of hours isn’t practical in this business. That’s why you should consider how long the unit will be able to work before it runs out of fuel.
The run-time depends on the unit’s fuel capacity, fuel efficiency, and power output. Naturally, the larger the reservoir size, the longer the run-time, and the more power you draw out of the unit, the faster it’ll run out of fuel. However, some fuel-efficient models boast longer run-time with smaller reservoirs, which depends on the model you’re choosing.
Most generators can run for 6-12 hours. Since you need your generator to work nonstop as long as your food truck is open, opt for the longest run-time you can find.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that the run-time is usually expressed at a half load or quarter load of a full tank. For example, if the unit works with 5000 watts and its run-time is 8 hours at half load, it’ll work for 8 hours when the load is kept at 2500 watts. If you draw more power, then it’ll last less than 8 hours.
Usually, generators work with either gasoline or propane. Some newer models accept both types of fuel and are called dual-fuel generators.
Propane is preferred for food truck generators as it’s cheaper and safer for the environment. It burns more cleanly with less exhaust, which is better for an area where food is made and served. Moreover, it doesn’t degrade on storage, meaning it’s your best option if you don’t use your generator as a continuous power supply but rather as a backup.
However, it burns more quickly, and the maximum storage of its cylinders is small, so you’ll have to refill it more than one time a day.
One the other hand, gasoline is more efficient as it produces more wattage per gallon. It’s more expensive, but its operating costs make up for the higher price since it doesn’t require frequent refilling like propane.
Nevertheless, it’s not a practical option if you don’t use your generator continuously as it goes slate and gums up upon storage, which can damage the unit itself. Furthermore, it contributes to air pollution and requires prior cooling down of the unit before refilling, which takes time when time is money.
Size and Portability
The space inside your truck is limited with all the appliances and staff on board. It’s not as big as your house or factory basements. That’s why your generator should be small enough to fit anywhere without taking much space.
Moreover, consider whether you’re going to store it in your truck or haul it out every day. If the latter is your case, then look for a lightweight unit. Even better, pick a model that comes with a built-in wheelset or heavy-duty carry frames.
Also, note that generators with larger power output are usually heavier and larger, so make sure you have enough space before opting for more powerful models.
Powerful and big generators can be really noisy, and trust me, nobody wants to sit and eat where a roaring machine is running in the background. Thus, a quiet generator is a must.
The noise level is measured in decibels. To help you imagine what the unit expresses, a normal conversation between two people is about 60 decibels while a loud rock concert is 120 decibels. The best you can aim for is a generator that produces 40-60 decibels of noise.
Parallel processing allows you to connect two generators together to get the sum of their power outputs. This is an essential feature if you already have a generator but need an additional one to create more power. It’ll also come in handy if you’re running more than one truck and the limited supply of only one generator isn’t enough.
Many states require that food trucks use CARB (California Air Resource Board) compliant generators. Whether or not the state you’re working in enforces this law, it’s always better that you buy a unit that meets CARB regulations.
Although these units aren’t totally green, they emit far fewer air pollutants that can harm you and your customers. Having a generator that gives out excessive amounts of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide can lead to severe asthma attacks and other health problems.
As a business owner, you don’t want to add to the expenses of your business with continuous repairs and replacements. Make sure that the model you choose is reliable and long-lasting. To ensure the best value for your money, opt for models that provide at least one year of warranty.
Some companies like Honda, Wen, and Champion offer buyers three years’ worth of warranty. Although these models tend to be more expensive, they’re a better bargain in the long term.
After knowing what to look for in a generator, there must be some questions that have crossed your mind. Here are some of the questions that I get asked regularly and their brief answers.
What Size Generator Do I Need for a Food Truck?
Look at the labels on your truck’s lighting, appliances, and equipment you plan to connect to the generator to know the amount of power you need. Consider all the items that will be running at the same time and the initial surges of bigger appliances like refrigerators.
It’s also advisable that you choose a size larger than you think you need for you don’t know what appliances you’ll bring on board in the future.
Are Food Truck Generators Worth it?
Yes! A reliable generator will help you keep your food truck running all the time, which is a key factor in growing your business. Even if you have continuous power supply from an electric source in your zone, a generator will be your backup in case a power outage affects your area or a storm knocks out power in the street.
Should I Upgrade to a Better and Quieter Generator?
That depends on how your business is growing. If you bring more equipment that needs to be powered up, you need to upgrade to a bigger generator. A more economical solution would be to purchase an affordable unit with parallel capabilities so that you can add its power to your old one and run more appliances.
As for the sound level, it’s always better to have a quieter generator in this line of business.
What Should I Do If My Generator Doesn’t Start?
First, check the fuel tank because many generators are programmed to turn off when the gas is low. Second, check whether the spark plug wire is connected and Inspect it for any signs of wear and damage. If you notice that the insulator is cracked or the electrode is damaged, replace the spark plug or call the company’s maintenance if you’re under warranty.
Are Food Truck Generators Waterproof?
Unless the model has GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets, which shut themselves off when wet, it’s not waterproof. But even with the GFCI outlets, it’s advisable that you keep the generator away from water and rain. If it must stay outside the truck on a rainy day, use a small tent or any barrier to block water from reaching the engine.
As a food truck owner, a power outage is your enemy. You don’t want to see your customers’ anticipating eyes falling after knowing that their favorite food can’t be prepared at the moment. Hopefully, one of these models will help you keep your business running all the time so that you can make good money and gain loyal customers along the way.
From what I’ve seen on the market, I genuinely think that WGen7500 is the best generator for food trucks currently on the market. The unit has everything you need starting from a powerful motor and extended run-time and ending with remote operation and essential safety features.
Next on my final recommendation list is Champion 100165. This is an excellent option for food truck owners who want a machine that works with both propane and gasoline and still provides sufficient power and long operating time.
Finally, if a cheaper route is what’s in your mind, I’d suggest you try WEN 56200i. The model is a real energy saver. Besides, it’s quiet, fairly light, and its motor never misses.