8 Best Generators for Food Trucks in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks
When you’re running a food truck, there are no outlets to plug all of your appliances into. If you want to effectively run those appliances, you’ll need a method of mobile electricity, making generators a must-have component for any food truck today.
While there are tons of generators on the market, they’re not all great choices for food trucks that have very specific requirements. If you purchase a generator that doesn’t meet your needs, you’re signing up for a lot of frustration and lost time.
We want to help you avoid such a situation, so we’ve compared some of the most popular generators that you might choose for your food truck in the following reviews. Hopefully, they’ll help you make a good decision on a generator that will power your appliances for years to come.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||DuroMax XP4400EH Portable Generator||
|Best Value||WEN 56475 Portable Generator||
|Premium Choice||Briggs & Stratton P4500 Inverter Generator||
|Champion Power Equipment 76533 RV Ready Portable Generator||
|Pulsar G65BN Portable Dual Fuel Generator||
The 8 Best Generators for Food Trucks
1. DuroMax XP4400EH Portable Generator – Best Overall
With a 208cc motor producing 7 horsepower, the DuroMax XP4400EH portable generator can produce a peak of 4,400 watts, and is our pick for the best food truck generator. It makes 3,500 running watts, allowing you to power your appliances and keep your business running. You even get 240-volt outlets on this generator, so powering big appliances is no problem either.
No matter where you’re operating, this generator is a great choice since it’s CARB and EPA approved in all 50 states. With a quiet operating volume of just 69 decibels, you’ll still be able to hear your customers with this running nearby. And thanks to the dual-fuel system, you’ll never have to stop serving because you ran out of gas.
Our only concern regarding this generator is the weak warranty. You get a 30-day replacement warranty, so you’ll want to run it hard in the first month and ensure you received a good unit.
2. WEN 56475 Portable Generator – Best Value
WEN is known for making quality yet affordable tools that compete with far pricier products. The 56375 model portable generator is no exception, and we think it’s one of the best generators for food trucks for the money. It’s priced affordably but offers performance matching units that cost substantially more.
This model is loaded with features. It’s equipped with an electric start, making it easy to start in any weather. But the battery tends to be a weak point on this generator. Unfortunately, replacements are difficult to obtain.
Low-oil shutdown keeps the motor protected if the oil runs low. The automatic voltage regulation ensures that fuel isn’t wasted by producing only as much power as is needed at any given time. And overload protection keeps your generator and devices safe from accidents.
With this machine, you’ll have 4,750 peak watts and 3,750 running watts to work with. It’s 50-state legal, so you can reliably use it anywhere. The 4-gallon tank will run for 10 hours at half-load, providing better fuel economy than many similar models.
3. Briggs & Stratton P4500 Inverter Generator – Premium Choice
Inverter generators offer quieter operation and cleaner power that’s safer for sensitive equipment and electronics. The Briggs & Stratton P4500 is an inverter generator that produces a peak 4,500 watts and a solid 3,700 running watts. It runs at just 61 decibels, making it easy to speak with your customers, even if the generator is parked nearby.
On a full tank of fuel, 3.5 gallons, you’ll get 16 hours of run-time at 25% load. Luckily, this machine will regulate the engine speed to only produce as much electricity as is required by the items you have plugged in. This keeps the volume down and ensures that you’re always getting the best fuel economy possible.
While this generator has some other nice features such as automatic shutdown for high carbon monoxide levels, it’s really the clean power and quiet operating volume that you’re paying for. And you should expect to pay a premium because this generator is not cheap.
4. Champion Power Equipment 76533 RV Ready Portable Generator
With a dual-fuel design, the Champion Power Equipment 76533 RV ready portable generator will never run out of fuel since you can run it with gas or propane. At a distance of 23 feet, it’ll produce just 68 decibels of noise. Meanwhile, you’ll have 3,800 watts of running power and a total of 4,750 peak watts for when you need a bit extra.
This generator features a 224cc champion engine with an electric start. The fuel tank holds 3.4 gallons, which will allow it to run for nine hours. While we wouldn’t call the fuel economy dismal, it’s certainly not great.
You’ll get several different outlets on the Champion 76533, but none of them are 240 volts. If you need 240V hookups, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But you will get a 3-year limited warranty and free technical support for life, making this a solid competitor overall.
5. Pulsar G65BN Portable Dual Fuel Generator
Producing a peak 6,500 watts and 5,500 running watts, the Pulsar G65BN portable generator provides plenty of power for running all of your vital equipment and appliances. This generator is equipped with a 274cc motor that’s pushing eight horsepower, and it’s all surrounded by a powder-coated frame.
You’ll find a 5.2-gallon fuel tank on this machine, which allows for 11.5 hours of power running at 50% load on gasoline. You also get loads of connectivity with a diverse array of outlets including 120V, 30-amp RV, 120V/240V twist lock, and 12V DC outlets.
While this machine does create more power than some of the other choices we’ve covered, it’s also a bit heavier at just shy of 150 pounds. You’ll be sacrificing some portability with this generator. It’s also pretty loud, operating at 76 decibels. Still a stable performer, but not one of our top picks.
6. Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator
If you know you need more power, then you might look at something like the Westinghouse WGen9500DF portable generator. This machine offers an impressive 12,500 peak watts and 9,500 running watts when running on gasoline. But you’re not limited to gasoline as a fuel source since it will also run on propane.
With this generator, you’ll have access to 120V and 240V outlets. The fuel tank holds 6.6 gallons of gasoline, which will only net you about 12 hours of run-time if you’re being conservative with your usage.
This generator costs quite a bit more than most of the competing models we’ve covered. Granted, it does offer more power than many of them as well, but it’s got some drawbacks like poor fuel economy and a hefty weight of 220 pounds.
7. All Power America APGG4000 Portable Generator
With a 208cc motor that makes 7 horsepower, the All Power America APGG4000 portable generator offers both 240V and 120V outlets for running appliances large and small. This machine produces 4,000 peak watts and 3,300 running watts, which should be ample for most food trucks.
But this is a pretty noisy generator. At 72 decibels while running at just half load, you’ll have a hard time speaking with your customers if it’s too close. And it’s not exactly eco-friendly. This model is EPA certified, but it’s not CARB compliant, meaning that it’s not 50-state legal. Plus, at 136 pounds, it’s pretty heavy, so you’re sacrificing portability. We like the affordable price of the APGG4000, but without some other redeeming features, we’re going to have to pass on it.
8. Firman H03651 Dual Fuel Portable Generator
At first glance, the Firman H03651 portable generator appears to be a solid choice. It features a dual-fuel design that allows it to run on gasoline or propane. And with 4,550 starting watts and 3,650 running watts, this generator should provide enough power for running all of your appliances. It’s even 50-state legal, so you can use it just about anywhere.
But everything isn’t as great as it seems when you dig below the surface. For instance, while it will run on propane, getting it started while using propane as a fuel source is an exercise in irritation. Similarly, so is operating this machine in the heat. Even in moderately warm weather, it overheats repeatedly. For us, this generator represents more frustration than value, so we don’t recommend it for any food trucks.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Generator for a Food Truck
There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a generator to power the appliances on your food truck. Your entire business could be riding on this decision. If your generator goes down, it could mean you’re out of work until you get it fixed. With so much pressure associated with choosing the right generator, it can seem daunting. If you find yourself in a similar boat, then this buyer’s guide was written to help you focus on the things that matter most so you can be confident in your generator decision.
How to Choose the Right Generator
There are a lot of differences between various generator models. These machines can differ dramatically in price, power, fuel efficiency, size, and more. But not every trait is equally important to your food truck business. Let’s take a look at the most important aspects you must consider so you can narrow down the decisions and pick the correct generator for your needs.
How Much Power Do You Need?
One of the most important considerations is power. How much power do you need? Everyone’s power needs are different, so you’ll need to determine precisely what you require before purchasing a generator so that you can be certain the generator you choose offers sufficient levels of power to run everything you need.
The best way to do this is to take a look at every appliance and piece of equipment you plan on powering with the generator. They should have tags that show how many watts each item uses. You can add up the watts between all of the appliances you need to use and you’ll know exactly how powerful your generator needs to be. But not all watts are the same when it comes to a generator.
Starting Power vs Running Power
When dealing with a generator, you need to understand the difference between starting watts and running watts. Starting watts are also referred to as peak watts and a generator’s peak rating is always higher than its running power. Your generator can run at peak wattage for only a short period, but it can sustain max running watts for as long as you need.
So, why differentiate between starting watts and running watts? Some appliances will start slowly and build up to their max power, such as an electric burner. But many other electronics require more wattage to start than they do to run. They might even require twice as much power to get started as they need to keep running once started.
Be sure to account for the increased need for starting power when determining how much power all of your appliances use. They don’t always list the starting demands, which means you might need more starting power than you realize.
Size and Portability
Working out of a food truck means that space is always at a premium. You can’t sacrifice too much space for any one item, even a generator. This means that you’ll want to look for the smallest machine that can provide sufficient power for all of your appliances.
Some food trucks choose to run the generator a short distance from the truck while others leave it attached. If you plan to move the generator, then weight will be just as important to consider as size. You won’t want to lug around something that’s too heavy; lifting it onto and off of the truck every day.
You also have to think about the amount of noise that a generator produces. These machines are quieter than ever before, but they’re still obnoxiously loud. Some of our favorites are quiet enough to have a conversation near, but others are still far too loud to leave comfortably by an area where you’ll be taking orders.
The farther you move your generator from your truck, the less you’ll have to worry about the noise it makes. But you should also consider the impact your noise has on surrounding homes and businesses.
If you keep your generator close to the truck while you work, then you’ll need to choose the quietest generator possible. Otherwise, it can become quite difficult to hear your customers when taking orders.
A generator is already a pretty hefty investment. But if your generator gets poor fuel economy, you’ll be continually washing money down the drain. You’ll be running this machine for many hours each day, so fuel efficiency should be a priority for every food truck owner.
When looking at outlets, you’ll want to think about a few things. First, how many outlets do you need to fill at once? This means taking a headcount of all the appliances you use to figure out how many receptacles you require.
Next, figure out what types of receptacles you need. Are standard 120-volt outlets going to do it for you? Or do you maybe need a heavier 240-volt outlet for a larger stove or other appliance? Determine these things before deciding on a particular generator model.
Choosing a generator to power the appliances in your food truck can be a daunting decision because you have so much riding on it. Your whole business is counting on that generator to safely power all of your appliances, so it better be reliable. Our reviews were aimed at helping you to make an informed choice, so we’re going to leave you with our recommendations once more to keep them fresh in your mind.
Our top pick for the best generator for a food truck is the DuroMax XP4400EH portable generator. This machine creates 3,500 running watts with some great features built-in such as the dual-fuel technology that allows it to run on propane or gasoline. It offers 120V and 240V outlets and is legal in all 50 states.
For a more affordable option, we recommend the WEN 56475 portable generator. It’s got an automatic voltage regulator, so no power or fuel is wasted, plus low-oil shutdown to protect the generator. And with 4,750 peak watts, it’s got enough power to run whatever you need.
The Briggs & Stratton P4500 generator makes true sine wave power that’s safe for sensitive equipment and electronics. Plus, it’s ultra-quiet with an operating volume of just 61 decibels.
Featured Image Credit: joenomias, Pixabay