The Best Generator for Food Trucks

The Best Generator for Food Trucks

As a food truck operator, your operation may include power-hungry appliances like refrigerators, air conditioning units, deep fryers and ovens—all of which require a reliable source of power to keep your orders moving and your customers happy. In this piece, we’ll review the 10 best portable generators on the market today, comparing starting wattage, running wattage, weight, run time, operating volume and price. Whether you’re a new member of the mobile restaurant community or are simply looking for an upgrade, the guide below will help you select the best generator for food trucks. These are sure to meet the demands of your growing mobile business.

Westinghouse WGEN7500

This well-rounded powerhouse weighs in at 192 pounds and loaded with features. The Westinghouse WGen7500’s 420cc Westinghouse 4-Stroke OHV engine produces 9500 watts of starting power and 7500 watts of running power, which is plenty to fuel most food truck operations.

It provides 16 hours of run time at 25 percent load, with four 120V-20A GFCI outlets and one 120V/240V 30A locking outlet. Its 6.6-gallon fuel tank is one of the largest on our list, minimizing the need for frequent refueling, and it offers a convenient one-touch push-button electric start with remote start key fob. This is a great generator for food trucks, and will last a long time.

Pros of the Westinghouse WGEN7500

  • Three-year warranty and lifetime technical support from Westinghouse
  • Large-capacity fuel tank
  • Extended run time
  • Affordable price

Cons of the Westinghouse WGEN7500

  • Heavy weight (192 pounds)
  • Noise level (73 dB at 23 feet)

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Honda 7000W Inverter

If quiet operation is your top priority in choosing a generator, look no further than the Honda 7000W Inverter. The “W” may as well stand for “whisper,” because at 58 dB at 23 feet, this model is the quietest generator on our list. Lack of noise doesn’t mean lack of power, however: the 389cc Honda GX390 EFI engine packs an impressive punch with 7000 starting watts and 5500 running watts. It also provides several outlet options, including one 120v 30A L14-30R, one 120v/250v 30A L14-30R and two household-style 120v 20A receptacles.

The 7000W does fall short in a few areas, namely run time, weight and price. At 25 percent load, it only carries a 6.5-hour run time, which could cramp the style of food trucks that frequently offer extended services. It’s also the heaviest generator we reviewed, weighing in at a hefty 261 pounds. Finally, the price tag is well above many of its competitors, which may put it out of reach for some operators.

Pros of the Honda 7000W Inverter

  • Extremely quiet operation
  • Solid power output
  • The reliability of a Honda plus a three-year warranty

Cons of the Honda 7000W Inverter

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Limited run time

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Champion 3400W Dual-Fuel Inverter

Though it lacks some of the power and capacity of its competitors, the Champion 3400W Dual-Fuel Inverter is a solid choice for food trucks with average power needs and limited appliances. It also offers the versatility of both gasoline and propane fuel tanks.

The Champion 3400W’s 192cc OHV engine produces 3400 watts of starting power and 3100 watts of running power. For shorter services, you can run it off the 1.6-gallon gas tank for 7.5 hours at 25 percent load or nearly double that run time with the 20-pound propane tank, which lasts 14.5 hours at the same load.

At just 59 dB at 23 feet, this generator is just a shade louder than the quietest model tested (the Honda 7000W), and the unit is feather-light at around 96 pounds. You can plug a modest range of appliances into its two 120V outlets, one 240V twist-lock outlet and one 12V DC outlet. Best of all, the price comes in at less than $1,000, which includes a three-year Champion warranty with lifetime tech support.

 Pros of the Champion 3400W Dual-Fuel Inverter

  • Very quiet operation
  • Lightweight
  • Affordably priced
  • Dual-fuel flexibility

Cons of the Champion 3400W Dual-Fuel Inverter

  • Not suitable for large operations with high power needs or multiple appliances
  • Limited outlet options

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Champion 3800W Dual-Fuel Generator

Priced at just over $500, it would be hard to beat the deal you’ll get with the Champion 3800W. This unit offers a power upgrade from its slightly smaller sister model, the 3400W, although it’s also noisier (68 dB at 23 feet) and heavier (119 pounds) as well.

The 224cc OHV engine can put out 4750 starting watts and 3800 running watts, making it a safe choice for larger trucks running multiple appliances. Like the 3400W, it comes with dual-fuel capacity, providing 9 hours of run time on the 3.6-gallon gas tank or 10.5 hours on the 20-pound propane tank. Operators will appreciate the ease of the push-button electric start and Cold Start technology, which allows the unit to start right up even in frigid conditions. The two 120V outlets, one 240V twist-lock outlet and one 12V DC outlet are protected by Volt Guard, a built-in surge protector that protects appliances from any spikes in voltage above a safe threshold.

Pros of the Champion 3800W Dual-Fuel Generator

  • Lightweight
  • Very affordably priced
  • Dual-fuel flexibility
  • Three-year warranty and lifetime tech support

Cons of the Champion 3800W Dual-Fuel Generator

  • Relatively loud
  • Limited outlet options

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Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500

For food truck operators searching for an extended run time, the Briggs & Stratton 30675A Q6500 is a worthy contender among its peers. The reliable 306cc Briggs & Stratton engine boasts a 14-hour run time at 25 percent load, delivering 6500 starting watts and 5000 running watts.

In the areas of weight and noise, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 ranks in the middle of the pack: it tips the scales at 138 pounds and its sound level is 66 dB at 23 feet. However, if you need to temporarily lower the volume, the unit’s Quiet Power Technology will automatically adjust engine speed to reduce noise.

Other features include a recoil-style start, four 120V-20A GFCI outlets, one 120V/240V, 30A locking outlet and two USB outlets. Its warranty is a bit less robust than its peers’, providing just two years of consumer protection and one year of commercial protection.

Pros of the Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500

  • Moderate price
  • Extended run time
  • Variety of outlet styles
  • High power capacity

Cons of the Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500

  • Relatively heavy weight
  • Limited warranty

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Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000

The Briggs & Stratton P3000 is essentially a smaller, lighter-weight version of the Q6500, offering impressive run time and modest power at a lower price point.

While it won’t meet the demands of a large-scale operation, smaller food trucks will appreciate the efficient, quiet operations of the 192cc OHV engine, which is among the least-noisy units we tested at 58 dB. It weighs a mere 95 pounds, and its 1.5-gallon fuel tank delivers 10 hours of run time at 3000 starting watts and 2600 running watts. The StatStation LCD interface keeps vital performance metrics front and center, and a telescoping luggage handle and six-inch wheels make it a breeze to transport.

Like the Briggs & Stratton Q6500, it includes four 120V-20A GFCI outlets and one 120V/240V, 30A locking outlet as well as one USB outlet and one parallel port. It also carries a two-year consumer or one-year commercial warranty.

Pros of the Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000

  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Low price
  • Long run time
  • Very quiet operation

Cons of the Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000

  • Low power output
  • Limited warranty

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Pulsar PG5250B

When it comes to run time, the Pulsar PG5250B is a rock star, delivering 15 hours at 50 percent load. This 224cc OHV engine provides 5250 watts of starting power and 4750 watts of running power for performance that far exceeds what you’d expect based on its shockingly low price tag. This lightweight unit—115 pounds—is one of the louder models we tested at 74 dB from 23 feet away.

This dual-fuel unit offers maximum versatility with Switch and Go technology, allowing operators to shift seamlessly between gas and propane fuel sources while the generator is in use. You’ll be able to power a variety of appliances with its two 120V AC outlets, one 30A RV port and single 120/240V twist-lock outlet. Your investment is protected by Pulsar’s two-year warranty and industry-leading customer service.

Pros of the Pulsar PG5250B

  • Lightweight
  • Powerful performance
  • Very low price
  • Dual-fuel versatility

Cons of the Pulsar PG5250B

  • Loud operation

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Sportsman GEN4000DF

The first thing that stands out about the Sportsman GEN4000DF is its petite size, but don’t judge it until you’ve tried it, because this undersized unit packs a punch.

At just 90 pounds, this dual-fuel generator is portable and powerful enough for most midsized food truck operations. Its 212cc engine cranks out 4000 starting watts and 3500 running watts, fueled by either its 3.6-gallon gas tank or 20-pound propane tank. It’s loaded with four 120V outlets, one 240V twist-lock outlet and a 12V DC outlet for battery charging and provides 10 hours of run time at 50 percent load.

The noise level is near the top of the list among the models we tested at 69 dB, but that’s one of very few drawbacks on this well-rounded, versatile generator. The warranty is also limited to just one year.

Pros of the Sportsman GEN4000DF

  • Small, lightweight unit
  • Very low price
  • Dual-fuel versatility

Cons of the Sportsman GEN4000DF

  • Loud operation
  • Short warranty

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Yamaha EF2000iSv2

The sleek styling and small size of the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 make it appear more like an old-school radio boombox than a generator, but this unit offers surprising levels of power, portability and functionality. At just 44 pounds, it’s easily the lightest generator we tested, with a comfortably carrying handle that makes it a snap to take anywhere. It’s also the quietest model in this review, producing a mere 51.5 dB at 23 feet.

Its power output is on the lower end of the spectrum at 2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts, making it a good choice for smaller, less demanding food truck operations that value portability over potency, or as a backup generator for larger trucks. The 79cc OHV engine delivers 10.5 hours of run time at 25 percent load, and Smart Throttle technology adjusts engine speed based on load to improve fuel economy and reduce noise levels.

The EF2000iSv2 is covered by a three-year warranty as well as Yamaha’s industry-leading customer service.

Pros of the Yamaha EF2000iSv2

  • Ultra-lightweight and portable
  • Attractive design
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
  • Quiet operation

Cons of the Yamaha EF2000iSv2

  • Modest power output not sufficient for large food truck demands
  • Limited outlet options (two 120V AC outlets and one 8A 12V DC outlet for battery charging)

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Wen 56200i

Similar to the Yamaha, the Wen 56200i is another lightweight, low-priced generator. It is best suited for food trucks requiring moderate power levels. Its 79.7cc OHV engine is comparably quiet, producing just 51 decibels at 25 percent load. It’s also lightweight and easy to carry at 48 pounds. The unit generates 2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts, lasting a full six hours at 50 percent load, while the Eco-Mode setting automatically adjusts its fuel consumption for maximum efficiency.

While the Wen 56200i won’t provide enough power for large-scale operations, it can easily support a refrigerator or a few other small appliances with its two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle and one 5V USB port. It also comes with a two-year warranty and Wen’s satisfaction guarantee.

Pros of the Wen 56200i

  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Low price
  • Quiet operation
  • Limits harmonic distortion for safe operation of sensitive electronics

Cons of the Wen 56200i

  • Relatively low power output best suited to small food trucks
  • Limited outlet options

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Finding the Model that Fits Your Needs

If you’re new to the food truck scene or have recently upgraded your operation, you’ll need to consider several factors to determine which of these generators is the best match for your business.

Power level

Each of the above generators provides a specific wattage level for starting (the brief boost of power needed to start a motor) and running (the level of continuous power the generator can supply). To determine your power needs, take an inventory of the starting and running watts required by each appliance in your operation and add them together. Compare that total to the power capabilities of each generator to make sure it can handle your load. Consider whether you will upgrade appliances in the near future and add capacity accordingly.

Noise level

Obviously, no one wants a noisy generator blaring in their ears, but you also can’t sacrifice the power you need just to save a few decibels. Consider where you expect to be operating: large, open spaces can absorb more noise than small, closed-in courtyards, and people have different expectations of noise levels at a raucous outdoor fair than they do in an office complex.

Run time

Your typical length of service determines your run time needs. If you typically operate relatively brief, three- to four-hour lunch services, you may not need a generator that provides run times in the double digits. If you maintain an all-day operation, you’ll appreciate the ability to keep serving your customers without having to stop and refuel.

Price

As you may have noticed in the list above, generator prices vary widely. They go from less than $500 to more than $4,000. The price tag may or may not accurately represent the quality of a specific brand or unit. If you find a generator that meets or exceeds your needs at an affordable price and offers adequate warranty protection, there’s no reason to pay more based on brand name.

Peer reviews

Do your research online and consult your colleagues in the food truck community. Ask them which generator they recommend and if they’ve had any issues with reliability or service. Crowdsourcing can be one of the best ways to make a sound purchasing decision, especially if your sources are using their generators for the same purposes that you will. A generator used for a food truck sustains very different demands from generators used for camping, workshops or emergency home power needs.

Operating Your Generator for Food Trucks Safely

Once you’ve found the perfect generator to power your food truck, be sure you’re up-to-date on the latest recommendations and guidelines for safe food truck operations:

  • Avoid refueling during operating hours.
  • Use physical barriers such as guards, fencing or enclosures to keep the public a safe distance away from your generator.
  • Make sure that your generator is completely shut down and cool to the touch before refueling from a portable container.
  • Ensure that exhaust from the generator is directed away from buildings, cooking operations and is at least 10 feet from openings or air intakes.
  • Verify that all electrical appliances, fixtures, equipment and wiring conform to National Fire Protection Association codes and standards.

Final Thoughts

With the information in this guide, you’re now ready to find the generator that fits your food truck’s power needs and budget. It’s always a good idea to consult a professional electrician. They can ensure that all wiring and connections are installed safely and correctly. Also, don’t forget to establish a regular maintenance schedule. This will keep your generator running smoothly and serving your customers year after year.

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