Can You Powered Food Truck with Solar Panels?

 Solar Powered Food Trucks – How Many Panels do You Need

Food trucks have become popular in many cities around the world, as they are distinguished by the variety of foods they offer at reasonable prices compared to traditional restaurants.

Since these trucks move from one place to another, they need a power source to ensure the operation of the electrical appliances used to store, prepare, and cook food. The solution is portable generators. However, these generators are noisy, and the energy they produce is expensive compared to the energy that can be obtained from the power grid.

Over the past years, a range of solar powered food trucks have increasingly emerged as a more sustainable and cost-effective option. So is solar power really the best solution to reduce food truck operating costs?

In this article, first we will highlight the benefits of using solar energy to power food truck equipments. And everything you need to know about setting up a solar powered food truck.

With this information, you can determine whether solar power is an effective option for your food truck business.

Food Truck Equipment Used for Power

People use two main generators to power food trucks with electricity: diesel and gas generators, and solar panels. Let's take a look!

Diesel and Gas Generators

Portable diesel generators are a popular choice for powering food trucks. They are known for their durability and ability to provide a reliable source of power for extended periods of time.

One of the main drawbacks of diesel generators is that they tend to be louder than other types of generators. They also produce higher levels of CO2 emissions.

Solar Panels

Solar pqnels is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative power source for food trucks, as more and more operators seek to reduce their carbon footprint and operating costs.

Solar panels generally has lower maintenance costs compared to diesel generators. The drawback of solar power system is that it depend on the amount of sunlight received by the solar panels, this means that the efficiency of solar panels can be decrease on cloudy days or in regions with limited sunlight.

How Much Power Does a Food Truck Need?

The first step in powering your food truck is to determine how much power you use on a daily basis.

To determine the exact amount of power needed for your food truck, you should create a list of all the electrical equipment and appliances that will be used per day, such as refrigerators, cooking equipment, coffee maker, ventilation system, freezer, lighting, and any other electrical devices. Once this list has been created, you should determine the power requirements for each item in terms of wattage.

After determining the power requirements for each item, you add up the total power needed and use this information to select the appropriate power source. This may involve choosing a portable generator, or installing a solar power system.

Food trucks serve different types of food using different types of appliances. As mentioned, the number of kW of power required by a food truck will be determined by its specific operational requirements.

If most food truck equipment runs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and only uses a few basic electrical appliances, such as running small equipment like coffee maker, blenders, and fridges, a portable generator with 3 KW or 25 amps should be sufficient.

If your food truck is primarily powered by electricity, you should go for a generator with more power. In this case, a portable generator with a power output between 5 and 7 KW should be sufficient to meet the higher power demands and safely run all your appliances.

The total energy required per day, or daily energy consumption, is the product of the number of running hours per day multiplied by the wattage of the equipment.

Benefits of Solar Powered Food Trucks

Environmental benefits

With solar panels, you can generate power without noise or pollution, unlike traditional generators that produce harmful emissions and require continual refueling.

Cost savings

You won't have to worry about maintenance costs or unexpected gasoline prices. Solar panels are low maintenance and generate electricity for free.

Mobility accrue

Solar panels generate energy from sunlight, and since sunlight is everywhere, you will not have to stand near a traditional energy source, which gives you greater freedom of transportation to different locations throughout the day to choose ideal locations and attract new customers.

Attract customers who are environmentally conscious

Nowadays, more people are aware of the environmental impact of their choices and want to support companies and businesses that adhere to clean energy and environmentally friendly practices. Promoting your food truck as an eco-friendly business will attract more customers as they prioritize sustainability.

Factors to Consider Before Running youe Food Truck with Solar Panels

Selecting the Right Solar Panel System

Choosing the right, high-quality solar panel system for your food truck is critical to ensuring that your system runs efficiently and lasts for many years.

The Location of a Food Truck

When installing a solar-powered food truck, one of the most important considerations is where you will park it each day. This means that you will need to carefully consider the orientation of your truck and the environment around it. And make sure to be exposed to direct sunlight the entire time you will be serving food.

To generate maximum power, your food truck should be parked in an open area without obstructions such as trees and buildings that can cast shade on your solar panels. If you are standing in a crowded urban area, finding an open area that receives sunlight all day can be more difficult, especially in the winter.

It should also be noted that the tilt angle of solar panels significantly affects their efficiency. In some cases, designing solar panels with angle-adjustable brackets allows you to maximize sun exposure.

Backup Power Equipment

Even if you decide to go solar and park your solar truck in a location that receives the sunlight, you should still keep a portable generator backup to ensure that your business can continue in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

It's always a good idea to plan for the worst-case scenario to ensure you're prepared for anything. Solar panels can be affected by several factors, such as weather conditions, shading, and equipment malfunctions.

How Many Solar Panels Can Be Installed on the Roof of a Food Truck?

The roof area of the food trucks typically ranges in size from 10 to 26 feet long and 7 feet wide. However, 16 feet long by 7 feet wide is the common size.

If your food truck is 16 feet long by 7 feet wide, you will have a roof area of about (16 x 7) = 112 sq ft (10.4 m²).

Suppose you will buy SunPower panels with 450 watts (22.2% efficiency); the panel area is (2m x 1.02m) = 2.03 m². This means that you can put five 450W panels on the roof of your truck.

Suppose you will buy SunPower panels with 450 watts (22.2% efficiency); the panel area is (2m x 1.02m) = 2.03 m². This means that you can put five 450W panels on the roof of your truck.

The roof area of the dining car may contain some equipment (such as exhaust fans, skylights, and air conditioning) that will occupy part of the roof area, which may range from 2.25 ft² to 4 ft² (0.18 - 0.37 m²).

Since the earth at sea level receives about 1000 watts of solar radiation per square meter. Modern solar panels are about 20% - 23% efficient.

For different sizes of food trucks, the useful area of ​​solar panels and the total PV watts that can be produced by modern panels can be calculated.

Truck length101214161820222426
Truck 7 width area

Total PV watts149517942093239226912990328935883887

The Future of Solar Powered Food Trucks

In view of what solar energy technology has achieved today, operating a food truck using solar panels is not impossible. On the roof of an average food truck, we can install between 2000 and 3000 watts of solar panels, which is sufficient power to operate a group of basic kitchen appliances such as blenders and fridges.

As solar technology advances, we expect to see more efficient solar panels that are able to produce more power in a smaller space. which will make the roof area of the food truck sufficient to power a wide variety of appliances and eliminate the needed for traditional generators.

The future of solar-powered food trucks is bright. In addition to having lower operating costs, they are eco-friendly and do not make any noise. All these advantages have made a group of food truck owners switch to solar energy.

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