Saving energy in your food truck brings a wealth of benefits to your business. Lower costs, more resources, appreciative customers, and less harm to the environment can all happen when you reduce your food truck power usage. And let’s face it, when you have a small business, a dollar saved is a dollar earned.
As the industry leader in food truck power, here are our practical tips for saving energy in your food truck.
A smart first step in saving energy is finding out how much power your food truck regularly uses. It will give you a baseline to make better decisions about what practices, appliances, and generators will work best for your needs while saving energy.
There are a few ways to do this. The easiest is to hook up a power meter to your food truck and measure how much energy you use in a day. Note that accurate power meters aren’t cheap. Another way is to add up the wattage of each of your appliances and kitchen equipment you use daily. If the total amount is, say, 5,000 watts, then you want a generator that can supply at least 5,000 watts of food truck power. Here’s a simple spreadsheet you can use to calculate your power needs.
Appliance/DeviceStartup/Peak WattsRunning WattsShift Length
It takes a little homework, but you’ll be glad to have a baseline of your food truck power needs. You may find that you don’t need the power (or the noise) of the first generator you bought.
It’s common for food truck owners to buy appliances and equipment that are cost-effective and get the job done. But depending on the appliance, they could be eating up a lot of energy. For example, diesel generators are typically only able to convert 40% of fuel burned into food truck electricity.
Smarter appliance options, however, are popping up in the market. ENERGY STAR provides good examples of how energy-efficient food truck appliances and equipment can be nowadays:
Energy-efficient appliances can also bring other benefits, such as less heat emission, longer lifespans, and of course, lower utility costs.
No one is saying you need to replace your griddle tomorrow. But you will want to consider it down the line. In the meantime, see if you can power down any appliances between serving customers to conserve energy.
Both gas and electric appliances can be energy efficient. But you can conserve even more energy by using the right equipment for different functions to power your food truck.
For example, Pete Anewalt, Chief Operating Officer at Joule Case, advises that gas is generally more energy efficient for appliances that need heat to operate, like a fryer. Gas heats up quicker than electric and cooks have better control over temperature—potentially reducing how long you need to use the appliance for your needs.
The type of generator you use is another factor. When you use a generator for power, you are paying for consistent production of power regardless of whether you are using it. If you need 3kW of power, but your generator can only be dialed down to 6kW, it may not be the right equipment for your needs. Compare that to an electric battery system where you draw only what you need.
By separating out which equipment would be better with gas versus electric, you have a better idea of how to use appliances to meet your needs while saving energy.
The fossil fuels needed to run a food truck can be considerable, sometimes costing food truck owners $500 a month. The good news is that food truck drivers can control up to 30% of fuel costs by saving energy through simple driving habits. Given the hefty weight of most food trucks and how far they must travel, this is a great hack.
There are two main ways to control how much fuel you’re consuming: speed and engine load.
You can save energy, and a good chunk of change, by using only the food truck power you need to drive between locations.
Maintaining a food truck with regular tune-ups will help it last longer. Regular oil changes, old plug replacements, and wheel realignments are not only good for the truck, but they’re also good for saving energy.
For example, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve gas mileage by up to 3%. Additionally, using low-rolling resistance tires can decrease energy use by 4%, and reducing the weight of your food truck by 5% can decrease energy use by 1-3%.
The energy-saving numbers aren’t bonkers, but you can implement many energy-saving options without costing more money than you would normally spend on repairs and maintenance.
If there was ever a time to consider food truck electricity options, it would be now. The federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes rebates and tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles and appliances. Additionally, dozens of cities and states are starting to regulate the use of natural gas in commercial products.
Research consistently shows that, overall, electric vehicles are more energy efficient than gas ones. In fact, one study showed that switching from gas to an electric food truck reduced energy use by 37% on average. While not everyone has the resources to buy an electric food truck, it’s an option that can drastically reduce energy waste, CO2 emissions, and yearly operating costs.
There are a lot of food truck electricity applications for owners to save energy (and money). And the industry is quickly moving to electric. But what really matters is being conscious about using only the energy you need to power your food truck. Our tips can help you get there.
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