A food truck exhaust fan is a piece of equipment designed to help you remove smoke, airborne grease, and other fumes from a food truck. Most often, food truck exhaust hoods come with fans installed to remove hot air and fumes from the cooking area. Truth be told, ventilation remains one of the most critical considerations when designing a food truck.

As we start to record very high temperatures across the globe, it is becoming more tasking to operate outside establishments. When running an outside kitchen or food truck, you most often use heating elements that make the daunting heat even more unbearable. Aside from a portable AC unit, a food truck exhaust fan is a must. Here are basic things to know about food truck exhaust fans and their installations.

What are the Best Types of Food Truck Exhaust Fan in the Market?
  • iLiving Wall Mounted Exhaust Fan
  • Broan – Nutone 512M Through – the – Wall Ventilation Fan
  • Broan 509 Through – Wall Fan
  • Z Line KB Wall Mount Range Hood
  • STL75 – LED Wall – Mounted Range Hood

Does the Size of a Food Truck Exhaust Fan Matter?

The effectiveness of a food truck exhaust fan usually depends on the size and dimensions of the truck, coupled with the airflow rate required for that area. The amount of air an exhaust fan can move at a given amount of time is most often measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The amount of air a fan can move will also depend on both the fan’s size and it is speed.

You have to understand that a small fan will likely move the same amount of air as a bigger fan, but will have to be oscillating at twice the rate of the bigger fan, and depending on how the fan is constructed; this may also make it noisier.

How to Size a Food Truck Exhaust Fan

Food truck exhaust fans come in a wide range of physical sizes and with a variety of CFM, which stands for cubic feet per minute and refers to the amount of air volume moved by the fan blower. There is a general rule that you need 150 CFM for every linear foot of cooking space, but making available more exhaust power should be considered for heavier duty cooking appliances.

The easiest way to know what size of fan you require for your food truck is to understand the dimensions of your food truck, then multiply it by the number of air changes necessary to keep it convenient. If in doubt, ask a retailer or qualified installer.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing an Exhaust Fan for your Food Truck

  1. Roof Mounted Or Wall Mounted?

Food truck exhaust fans can be categorized into roof-mounted and wall-mounted exhaust fans. Note that you can mount them either on the side or on the roof of the truck. States and municipalities always tend to have a specification in terms of mounting positions, therefore it is always advisable to know this information beforehand.

If you intend to go for roof mounting, consider the height of bridges or barriers you have to drive across because mounting it on the roof will add to the height.

  1. Regulatory Concerns

Just like it was noted above, there are regulatory concerns when it comes to food truck exhaust fans and how they are mounted. These regulatory specifications are most often set by the local council and may change from one area to another, especially if you intend on doing business in more than one location.

Aside from the position of the exhaust fan system in the food truck, the distance it should be from certain appliances and the gap between the oven/burner and the canopy is also regulated either by the supplier or the local council. A good number of municipalities might even request you inculcate the fire suppression system within the hood itself.

  1. Customized or Pre-Fabricated?

When looking to purchase a food truck exhaust fan system, note that you can opt for a customized version to suit the precise needs of your truck or a prefabricated one as the need may be. Customized versions are usually better since they are designed with the requirements of your food truck.

However, note that they tend to be more expensive and your supplier might take more time to deliver them. Meanwhile, the pre-fabricated variety is ideal for most food trucks, and might also be a perfect fit for your requirements.

  1. Mounting Curbs

You must understand your curb when looking to mount an exhaust fan for your food truck. A mounting curb sits on top of the roof and secures the exhaust hood to the fan itself. While this might look like just a simple metal box, aside from providing a path for unwanted smoke and fumes to exit the vehicle, the mounting curb also seals the food truck so moisture doesn’t leak inside of the kitchen.

Also note that when not completely sealed, rainwater and other external weather elements outside of your vehicle will get inside creating a massive list of potential hazards.

  1. Price and Capacity

The price of food truck exhaust fans can range from around $911 to $1,142 and usually come with a built-in lid. Food truck fans range from 400 CFM to 2500 CFM, have between 0.18 HP and 0.75 HP, and are available with a 10.5”, 11.75”, 13.75”, or 15.75” wheelbase.

However, note there are a number of features you should take into consideration while shopping. Some food truck exhaust fans may require more electricity than others, howbeit, a food truck exhaust fan shouldn’t use more than 3 amps while operating at high capacity.

Some of the higher-end food truck exhaust fans have a wider range of features such as remote controls, different fan speeds, built-in thermostats, and even sensors that can automatically close the lid when they detect rain. The more features in the fan, the more expensive it will be.

  1. Exhaust Tubes

One very important rule of installing exhaust fans in your food truck is to make sure there are no holes or spaces in the exhaust tubes or the connection. This will have to be fully sealed from tube to fan. Note that if the tubes are not fully sealed, grease can get in and it will be a fire hazard. A good number of installers weld exhaust tubes so there is no way for grease to get in.

  1. Roof Penetrations

When installing food truck exhaust fans, it is imperative to ensure there are no penetrations or tiny holes in the roof itself. In addition, all screws should be on the outside of the exhaust hood for safety and code purposes.

Other Factors to Consider are:
  • Fan placement
  • Cubic feet per minute (CFM)
  • Energy Efficiency
  • System resistance
  • Cost
  • Air temperature and static pressure
Should You Use Food Truck Exhaust Fan Without Hood?

Here are the pros and cons of using a food truck exhaust fan without hood:

Pros
  • They work in most food trucks, and some plug-in models can be easily installed without professional help.
  • They are usually more affordable.
  • The filters won’t have to be cleaned out or replaced regularly
  • Require less power, so maybe more energy-efficient.
  • Makes less noise than an exhaust fan with a hood.
  • Does not need ducting vents, making them more space-efficient.
  • Newer models come with timers that can be programmed.
Cons
  • Exhaust fans with hoods handle larger volumes of smoke, soot, odors, and particles than ones without hoods.
  • They are less efficient in maintaining the air quality inside the truck when compared to exhaust fans with hoods.
  • Exhaust fans with hoods are incredibly stylish and can make a major statement above any kind of stove.
  • When compared to an exhaust fan with a hood, they remove less moisture that comes from the cook-top.

How to Install a Food Truck Fan – Step By Step

  1. First, clear the installation site to safely rig and lift equipment into its final position.
  2. Consider general service and installation space when locating the unit.
  3. Place or mount unit close to the space it will serve to reduce long, twisted duct runs.
  4. The fan discharge will have to be located at least 10 feet away from any supply intakes. The fan discharge shall be located in accordance with the applicable building code provisions.
  5. If a backdraft damper is needed, then it should be secured within the curb using sheet metal screws, to the bottom of a damper box or damper support flanges located below the roof deck.
  6. If an up-blast fan is used, ensure discharge is at least 40 inches above the roof surface
  7. For an up-blast fan, normally the power cord is brought through the conduit tube located on the top skirt on the outside of the unit.
  8. At this point, carefully secure the ventilator curb through the vertical portion of the ventilator base assembly flange using a minimum of eight (8) lug screws, anchor bolts, or other suitable fasteners
  9. Right before you connect the fan motor to the power source, verify power line wiring is de-energized.
  10. Connect power supply wiring to the motor as indicated on the motor nameplate or terminal box cover. However, ensure that the power source is compatible with the requirements of your equipment.
  11. Before powering up the fan check the ventilator wheel for free rotation.
  12. Check all fasteners for tightness.
  13. Re-install motor dome.
  14. A drain pipe is made available for single-point drainage of water and residue on up-blast fans. The drain pipe should be positioned close to the roof slope.
What Size of Wire is Used to Install a Food Truck Exhaust Fan?

This will depend on local ordinances and on the brand, model, and size of the fan. In addition, food truck operators are advised to ensure the voltage and phase of the power supply and the wire amperage capacity are in accordance with the motor nameplate.

How Do You Deal With Grease?

An efficient food truck exhaust fan helps to control odor, and aside from maintaining a proper environment, it also helps the exhaust system suck in oil and other particles that mix with the air during cooking, saving the truck and other appliances from grease accumulation that can quickly undermine the cleanliness of the truck.

Grease accumulation over time can damage the interior of trucks and greasy surfaces can also lead to safety hazards. A food truck exhaust fan helps in maintaining the temperature within the truck and also ensures the air is free from dirt and dust particles. It also helps to prevent quick degradation of stored food and deposition of dirt on prepared food.

What is a Food Truck Exhaust Fan Grease Box and Why You Should Use It?

Food truck exhaust fan grease boxes are used to collect grease and oil discharged from your food truck exhaust fans. Smoke, oil, and grease particles as a result of cooking are exhausted into your exhaust fan system. At some point, the grease build-up will start to pool, and eventually spill over and leak from the exhaust fan.

Once it leaks from the fan, it is inevitable that it will get on your roof. Even if only a small percentage of the cooking done produces smoke or grease, you should have an exhaust fan grease box to trap the effluent. Some more critical reasons you should use it include:

  • Fire Hazard
  • Environmental Concerns
  • To Avoid Dangerous Conditions For Personnel Who Work On Roof
  • Required By NFPA
  • Grease Accumulation Can Be Detrimental To Your Roof

Conclusion

A well-installed and efficient exhaust fan will help ensure your mobile kitchen is comfortable, and will also protect you against heat-related illnesses caused by dangerously high temperatures. When choosing a food truck exhaust fan, do not forget that not all fans made for restaurants will work for a food truck.