Different food trucks with different themes and food menus are always fun to explore. The food truck business is small but at the same time profitable. The food trucks are always on the go, they are shifting their business location every day. Just like normal kitchens the food trucks also use appliances like stoves, mixers, juicers, sign boards, etc. To run these appliances, they also need electricity. A very cheap and sustainable way of generating electricity for a food truck is by using solar panels. This article is a must-read for all you food truck owners as it will teach you about efficient solar panels for food trucks. In this article, you will learn how do food truck solar panels work, how many solar panels to run a food truck, etc.
What are Solar Panels?
Solar panels or PV panels are devices that convert sunlight (composed of energy particles called photons) into electricity. This electricity can be further used to power electrical loads. These devices are used in a wide variety of applications including remote sensing, remote power systems for cabins, telecommunication equipment, etc. They can also be used to produce electricity for commercial and residential use. Also, see Why Transparent Solar Panels Are The Future?
How Much Electric Power is Needed by a Food Truck?
Before using solar panels for food truck, you need to calculate the daily energy consumption of your food truck. This will be done on the basis of the equipment you use and your kitchen design. Usually, on the appliance stamp or tag nameplate, appliance values are easily found. Additionally, the user manuals of the appliances their current in amps, voltage, and starting and running wattage are mentioned. By analyzing these you can roughly figure out the power needed by the truck.
To calculate the daily power consumption of your truck you will need the following-
1. The wattage of your food truck.
2. The number of hours you will use your food truck daily.
3. The multiplied value of the number of daily run hours by the food truck wattage.
Let’s take a use case to understand these above-mentioned theories efficiently. Suppose the wattage requirement of a food truck is 7000 watts and it operates 7 hours daily. Thus, the electric power needed by the food truck to run for 7 hours will be (7000×7) = 49000Wh = 49kWh. After learning this, let’s see Do food truck solar panels work?
Do Food Truck Solar Panels Work?
When solar panels got popular a decade back, it was totally impossible to imagine that one day you will be able to use solar panels for food trucks. In 2022, there have been huge technological advancements, and it’s 100% possible to run food trucks with the help of solar panels. After this, let’s see how many solar panels do you need for a food truck.
How Many Solar Panels do You Need for a Food Truck?
After learning do food truck solar panels work, let’s see how many solar panels do you need for a food truck. The type of food truck you are running will help you determine how many solar panels you need for it. The energy needs of different food trucks also vary. If it’s food that only uses one or two small appliances like a small grill then you will only need one solar panel. However, to meet the standard requirements of a standard food truck, you will need close to 12 or more small solar panels. You need to cover your entire truck roof with these panels. After this, let’s learn about how many solar panels needed to run food truck.
How Many Solar Panels to Run a Food Truck? How Many Solar Panels Needed to Run Food Truck?
If food trucks are operating at 32kWh per day in California, USA, they will need around 25 solar panels of 300W. However, it’s just a use case. The kitchen design and energy requirements of food trucks vary greatly and are responsible for determining how many solar panels to run a food truck or how many solar panels needed to run food truck.
How to Install Solar Panels on Food Trucks?
After learning how many solar panels to run a food truck or how many or how many solar panels needed to run food truck, let’s learn details about installing solar panels on food trucks. It is not that complicated to install solar panels on a food truck. It will just take a bit of your time and energy. You need to first understand your truck design and power needs. After this, you are required to gather a foundation in appliance and solar panel connectivity before you install them. Also, see How Long Do Solar Generators Last?
How to Calculate Solar Panel Daily Energy Generation?
The simplest way to calculate the daily energy generation of your solar panels is to divide the wattage of the solar panels by the number of hours they receive electricity each day. For example, if you have a food truck in California and the truck receives 5.82 peak sun hours. To generate 30000Wh, you will need (30000/5.82)= 5154-watt solar panels. So, to use solar energy to power your food truck, you will need a 5000W solar generator or twenty-five 200-watt solar panels.
What is the Cost of Solar Power Food Truck?
If you already own a food truck, adding solar panels to it and converting its power system will at least cost several thousand dollars. Depending on your truck’s size and power needs, this cost figure can go above $10,000. But don’t worry about this initial cost, solar panels pay for themselves over time. Once you have set them up, you will be saving money every day. You need to understand the cycle of your business to determine whether the initial set-up cost for the panels is worth it or not.
What are Factors to Consider Before Using Solar Panel in Your Food Truck?
Don’t choose in a haste, consider these factors before applying solar panels for a food truck.
1. Equipment Used
Before investing in any solar panel, it is advisable to first determine the type of food truck you will be running. Depending on your food truck and the kind of appliances you are using in it, you can estimate your power requirement. Moreover, keep in mind that different equipment needs a different amount of power to run. For example, if you are selling burgers and hotdogs then you might just need a cooler and a small flat-top grill, this equipment can be easily run with solar panels. On contrary, if you are using a more upscale food truck with several types of equipment ranging from an oven, large grills, a freezer, and a cooler.
Your energy requirements will vary greatly on what equipment you are using. So, it’s best to analyze your energy requirement before deciding to substitute your traditional electricity source with solar panels. Measure the number of kilowatt hours of electricity your truck is currently using and based on this number you will get a good estimate of how many solar panels to run a food truck. Your energy requirement also helps to determine how many solar panels do you need for a food truck.
2. Parking Space of Your Food Truck
One of the biggest mistakes food truck owners make is shifting to solar panels for food trucks even before considering where their truck is parked every day. It is one of the most important considerations. The most important factor in deciding whether you want to go solar or not depends on the location of your food truck. To go solar, your truck should be in a location where it is receiving sunlight throughout the time you are serving food. Think of it based on your truck’s angle and location. If your truck isn’t receiving adequate sunlight in its current location, consider moving to a new location or reconsider your idea of running a solar-powered truck.
If you don’t change your location and still shift to solar panels for all your energy demands, you will have periods when you are not generating any electricity. To tackle this situation, you should always have a backup generator as well as a system to start working whenever your solar panels stop working. But going through this hassle is too much, it’s a suggestion that you should rather find a new location with adequate sunlight. Also, see The Shifting Geography, Technology, and Politics of U.S. Energy Production
3. Your Budget
Like any small business, food truck owners should also consider their budget for investing in solar panels for food trucks. Your budget defines how and when should you invest in solar panels. If you invest in solar panels, you should know that their payoff will take many years. Initially, you will need to bear the cost of solar panels and after some time, they will be able to pay for themselves.
Additionally, your budget also decides the quality of solar panels you can invest in. This will further impact the internal rate of return of your solar panels. If you go for higher quality panels, they are more long-lasting and produce more energy. On the contrary, if you choose cheap solar panels, they are lower quality but in short term, they save you money. Once you have figured out the average daily amount of energy you will need, it will be easier to decide the level of solar panels opt for you.
4. Backup Equipment
Even if your food truck is located in an area that receives direct sunlight throughout the day, it is still advisable for you to have a backup generator just in case. In unforeseen events like rainstorms, you don’t want to be stuck without power. Power is necessary for your small business all the time. You don’t want to be unable to feed your dear customers due to a lack of a generator. Always consider the best as well as the worst-case scenarios of everything so that you are prepared for anything. Especially in the service industry, you need to be always prepared to deal with worst-case scenarios.
If your customer comes and you are unable to serve them because your solar panels are not generating enough energy, it will tarnish your small business’s reputation. You may lose a customer for life. You need to ensure that you have reliable power no matter what is happening. Although solar panels are great investments, backup power is important as well.
Now that you have learned about all the important things to consider before investing in solar panels for food trucks, it’s time to further see the pros and cons of solar panels. It might also interest you to read about Top 3 Green Energy Stocks in India.
What are Pros and Cons of Using Solar Panels on Your Food Truck?
When you are using solar panels in your house identifying their pros and cons is easy. On the other hand, when you use solar panels on your food truck, it is a bit complicated to identify their benefits and downsides. Let’s still try to understand them with these pointers.
1. Can’t Connect to the Electric Grid
If you use solar panels for food trucks, the first issue you face is that there will be no way to connect your truck to the electric grid. To have sufficient energy throughout the day, you will also need to have a backup generator available at all times. This will further reduce your profitability and expenses.
2. Timing and Location Issues
You also need to consider the operational location and time of your food truck. If you operate during lunch hours then solar panels will work efficiently for you. During these hours the solar panels will get the most sun exposure and this allows them o be more effective. It also saves you a great deal of money. On the other hand, if you operate your food truck in the early morning or late evening, you will need to know the amount of direct sunlight you are getting and the duration for which you will be working without any sun exposure. These factors greatly affect the feasibility of your solar panel investment.
3. Its Ultimately a Net Benefit
By investing in solar panels for your food truck, you can not only save money but also the environment. Usually, food trucks use gas power generators to fulfill their energy requirements. These generators burn fossil fuels which in turn harms the climate and causes global climate changes. Although a single food truck is not a major player in harming the environment if you eliminate even one gas-powered generator, it will be an appreciable step towards making this planet safer, more sustainable, and healthy.
Solar Panels for Food Trucks – They Do Work!
With the advancement in technology, the use of solar panels is not only limited to homes. Today, these panels can also be used in small businesses like food trucks. The kitchen design and equipment requirement of your food truck will help you determine the number of solar panels needed by it.
Usually, most food trucks use gas power generators that are harmful to the environment. Using solar panels instead of these generators will help you take a firm step towards making a sustainable world. Solar energy is the future and moving towards it will greatly help you in the long run.