Air Conditioning Your Food Truck

Food Truck

Food trucks are meant to cook food, but sometimes they feel like they are cooking the people working inside them instead. Hot summer days and heat radiating appliances like stoves, ovens, and deep fryers combine to form a sauna-like atmosphere.

Preparing the food in stifling heat is hard enough, but serving it out the window with a bright smile and friendly greeting becomes a monumental task of self-will when you are exhausted and drenched in sweat.

Is it possible to cool down a food truck?

Fortunately, the answer is yes, thanks to air conditioning. Generally reserved for buildings and vehicles when driving, air conditioning can also benefit mobile food trucks and kitchen trailers.

Who can install a food truck air conditioner?

If you are buying new, many kitchen trailer manufacturers will give you the option to have air conditioning installed as part of the purchase bundle. If you are planning on catering in places where daytime temperatures can get higher than 80-90 degrees, investing in an air conditioner at the outset is the best option.

If you have a secondhand food truck without air conditioning, you have two options. The first is to purchase an air conditioning system and install it yourself. The second is to take your truck to a manufacturer and let them do the electrical work. Which option is best for you depends on your experience with renovations and similar projects.

Where can an air conditioning system fit in a mobile kitchen?

Space for another appliance can be hard to come by in many food trucks. To allow you to continue to use all the wall space for food storage, cooking, and counter space, most air conditioners are fit for roof installation. This placement is also beneficial since the hottest air in the truck is near the top. Air conditioners can also be set in the wall, although this is less common.

How expensive is a mobile kitchen air conditioner?

The units themselves have a wide range of prices. In general, it is rare to see anything of functional quality for less than five hundred dollars. Top-end units cost between two and three thousand dollars. What model to invest in and how much it costs depends on how large your food truck is and how much labor is involved in installing it. Larger food trucks or trailers often need two or more units to condition the entire space.

What maintenance does an air conditioning unit require?

There are three parts to keep a regular eye on once you have equipped your kitchen with an air conditioning system.

  • The filter - This needs to be replaced regularly. A dirty filter can become blocked and stop air from being cooled.
  • The attachments - Most food truck air conditioners are attached to the roof. Make sure the bolts are fastened securely but not over tightened. Loose bolts could allow the conditioner to fall off the truck, especially when changing locations. Over tightened bolts can cause the air conditioner to malfunction.
  • The thermostat - This is what tells the air conditioner how hard to work. If you position the thermostat poorly (e.g., in direct sunlight), it can hinder the unit’s ability to regulate the temperature.

Add the air conditioner to your routine food truck check-up, and you’ll catch any issues before they spiral out of control.

How much power does it take to air condition a food truck?

Air conditioning requires more power than many other simple appliances. Every model of air conditioner will specify precisely how much power it requires. In general, units use between 1000 and 2500 watts.

Make sure your generator can take this added power drain. You don’t want to overload your power system in the middle of the high-demand rush hour.

How else can I cool down my food truck kitchen?

Sometimes even with an A/C system, food truck temperatures still struggle to remain tolerable. There are a few other ways to let in a cool breeze, including:

  • Installing roof vents - Like windows, these should be propped open to let the hot air rise out of the food truck and allow as much of the air to circulate out of the truck as possible.
  • Opening the back door - Depending on where your staff door is located, this can help immensely.
  • Creating a larger service window - This allows more air to circulate in and out of the truck while it is open.
  • Fans - Simple fans can give relief from the heat. The main complaint with fans is that they take up space, which is often in short supply in a food truck.

Employees will work better in a food truck that isn’t stifling hot. They are better able to serve customers with a genuine smile. So remember, whether you install an air conditioner yourself or bring it into a professional, you’re doing the right thing for your business, and that’s cool!

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