Try keeping a food truck cool with an AC is like putting screen doors on a submarine to keep out the water. I keep getting asked about installing A/C on a food truck or trailer so I figured I'd pass along the advice to everyone. But if you you want to know the short answer; NO!
Keeping A Food Truck Cool
People are shocked at my response to their question. I always say no! They say “it's gonna be hot isn't it?” YES, it is a kitchen! And this is what I explain to them: If you take the average food truck with all the cooking equipment and add the outside temp, you will be anywhere from 10 to 30 degrees hotter in the truck. My truck in August has gone as high as 129 and we will shut down for the day. People get upset, but the health of my crew is more important to me than the almighty dollar! Plus working in this type of heat exposure take a few days for your body to recover from. These temps in my truck were extreme, and in a heat-wave in Pa. with a ton of humidity.
A Waste Of Money
You may ask yourself yourself what does this guy have against A/C? Nothing! I love my A/C on in the house and my personal vehicles. It is just a waste in a food tuck or trailer, in my opinion. Let's start with the cost of the air unit alone: $1,200-$1,800.00. Then we need to install it at an additional cost. Let's talk about powering it. Yes that requires more power than all of the other things drawing on the system. Depending on the size unit and number of units you choose, you could need as much as an additional 4-8 kw available on the on-board generator. That comes at a cost also to upsize the generator. Will you have enough space for the bigger generator?
Let's pretend that money and space are not a problem for your build budget. The builders are always installing the A/C units in front of the hoods in the trucks and trailers. So where does your cool air go? You guessed it – out the hood vents! What is the point of the extra money for the A/C unit and larger generator, if the air is going to get sucked out the hood vents?
You're literally creating cold air and then immediately sucking it out – that's worse than just running your AC at home with the windows open. – Ben
Now you see why I say it is not worth the extra money to do this? What other equipment could you buy with these wasted funds? Stuff that could actually make you money versus losing money.
KEEPING A FOOD TRUCK COOL WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING
The next question is – what should we do to keep the temperature comfortable? Keeping a food truck cool without air conditioning is possible under normal conditions.
On my trucks we have these large roof vents that you can see in the attached picture. This creates a chimney effect and draws air in from the windows and expels heat up through the vents. This is the best option for the hot weather that I have found for my trucks and crew.
KEEPING MY FOOD TRUCK WARM?
Another question is how do we cut down on the cold in the winter months? After trying many things in the truck to cut down on the cold, with varying degrees of success, I have found that the mats pictured below are the best solution. The floor of most trucks is diamonette and it does not have an real insulating properties to help. The mats are cheap -around $20.00 per pack. I usually get one winter season out of a pack of them. They interlock and I cut them with an exact-o knife. You will be amazed at how much cold this keeps out of the truck. We work the ski resort all winter, and once the equipment is on, we are in T-shirts and pants. At night we run a small electric heater which keeps the truck warm enough to not freeze any lines. I have had one night where the temps dipped to negative 16 and we had to let the truck warm up to get water flowing. Again, this was an extreme circumstance.