When running a food truck, you will surely have to contend with extreme temperatures in your kitchen. However, you can mitigate this by installing an air conditioner in your food truck kitchen. As long as you have adequate power supply in your food truck, you can consider installing an air conditioner in your food truck.

It is equally an easy and affordable option to keep the kitchen temperature under control. When looking to add an air conditioner to your food truck, you may be tempted to just add the unit anywhere it fits.

However, note that an AC might not help keep the kitchen temperature under control if the unit is installed where it blows cool air directly into your hood vent and sucks out the air. You may need to install a rooftop air conditioner as it will minimize your space requirement and leave you more room to operate. Also, take time to consider the power requirements of the unit.

Most often, you’ll need around 1200 – 2400 watts or 10 – 20 amps of electricity for a standard AC unit. You will also need to calculate the electrical requirements of everything on your truck before adding an AC to ensure that you have adequate power to meet the extra demand.

To do this, consider adding up the watts of everything in the truck that requires electricity to operate: coffee maker, refrigerator, blender, television (for menu display), water pump, water heater, and microwave. Also, give yourself some room to wiggle with your power requirements as an overloaded generator tends to occur at the worst possible moment.

What is the Best Rooftop AC Unit for Food Truck?

The rooftop air conditioner is a great way to make your food truck’s space cool and workable, especially during the summer season. It minimizes the space requirements and leaves you more room to operate. Outlined below are top rooftop AC units to consider for your food truck:

  1. RecPro RP-AC2801

If you are looking to maximize the clearance over your food truck’s roof, then you should consider this low-profile air conditioner. According to reports, this RecPro model tends to sit only 9 inches higher than the truck’s roof.

It also comes with a remote control that lets you easily control the unit’s operation and includes a timer. Dishing out about 51 to 55 decibels, depending on fan speed, most people note that this RecPro is also quieter than most AC models on the market today.

  1. Coleman Mach 15+

This is one of the best Rooftop AC units to consider for your food truck. This powerful unit dishes out a strong 15,000 BTUs, and this should be enough to keep your food truck kitchen temperature under control.

Capable of moving 320 cubic feet per minute (CFM), the 15+ can be used with ducted ventilation systems. Also note that this unit can accept an optional heater unit that will dish out 5600 BTUs of warm air, for insurance against winter colds.

  1. Dometic Brisk II (B59516.XX1J0)

Same as with most Dometic Brisk units, this AC unit comes with a very powerful motor that can dish out around 15,000 BTUs. With this sort of power, this unit can easily keep the temperature in your food truck kitchen under control, even in hot conditions.

Owing to its strong performance, affordable price, and light 74-pound weight, this Brisk II is a top choice to consider especially since it comes with a very appealing package and a two-year warranty.

  1. Coleman Mach 3+

This AC unit is a top option to consider especially if you want an optional heating unit, but don’t need the higher performance of the overall recommended model, the Coleman Mach 15+. The Mach 3+ is renowned as a 13,500 BTUs (vs. the Mach 5+’s 15,000 BTUs) unit and will genuinely cost a couple of hundred dollars less.

Howbeit, it is a very similar model to the Mach 15+ and will dish out the same 320 cubic feet of air per minute. All these make it one of the best-selling air conditioners for food trucks in the United States.

  1. Dometic Brisk II

This is a viable option to consider especially if you are looking for an AC unit for a small food truck, one that wouldn’t cost a lot of money. This unit has around 13,500 BTUs of cooling air, and this should be enough to cater to your food truck cooling needs.

In addition, at only 77 pounds, it remains one of the lighter models on the market and this makes installation much easier. According to reports, this is one of the best-selling food truck air conditioners and it comes with a two-year warranty.

Different Types of Air Conditioner for Food Truck

When looking to choose an AC unit for your food truck, have in mind that there are numerous types of air conditioners to pick from. Here are four viable options to consider;

  1. Rooftop Air Conditioner

This has become a very popular choice for food trucks especially since it is installed on the roof of the truck and barely takes up extra space in the truck. A good number of rooftop air conditioners have around 5,000 and 15,000 BTU/Hour. This is a modest number considering that more than 30% of the energy is consumed through the vents. A single rooftop air conditioner can cool an area of 10 feet by 50 feet.

Pros
  • Save space
  • Are energy-efficient
  • Ensure fast, worry-free installation
  • Their repair and maintenance are easier
Cons
  • Maintenance and upkeep can suffer due to the “out of sight out of mind” factor
  • Heavy and could cause damage to your roof membrane.
  • This could result in water leaking into the building
  • Attract storm damage resulting from lightning or other weather damage
  1. Window Air Conditioner

Note that the window air conditioner provides great cooling capacity in a small package. Have it in mind that these units barely take up space, and can be quite easy to maintain. Also, note that you can find mini window air conditioners as small as 14 inches that open horizontally instead of vertically. In addition, it comes with all the necessary cooling components within one box (compressors, vents, etc.) so noise pollution isn’t a problem.

Pros
  • It’s more efficient
  • Space-saving
  • It’s quieter
  • No extra water
Cons
  • Blocked Windows
  • It is hard to direct where the water drains
  • Windows need to be properly sized to fit the AC unit
  • Can be a security risk.
  1. Ventless Portable Air Conditioner

Although this unit functions as a portable air conditioner, have it in mind they are way smaller in size and the design can be quite enticing and captivating. This type of air conditioner is also referred to as a “swamp cooler” owing to its very peculiar moist air ventilation. It doesn’t require any refrigeration process to cool the air, rather it leverages evaporated water that is released into the dry air, quickly chilling the room.

Pros
  • Environment friendly
  • Low operation costs
  • Easy to install
  • Low energy consumption
  • Mobile 
Cons
  • High humidity
  • Ventilation problem
  • Lower efficiency
  • Slower action
  1. Portable RV Air Conditioner

This type of AC unit leverages one or two holes to ventilate the hot air between the device and outside. It features adjustable frames that are mounted under the window to keep the hoses in place. However, you should use the single hose air conditioner since there is a strong possibility that hot air will come inside the room due to improper ventilation.

Pros
  • Do not require installation
  • Less expensive
  • Can be hidden
  • Can be moved
Cons
  • Not effective to cool very large trucks
  • Less economical
  • Unwanted noise
  • You have to empty the drain tanks regularly.

Factors to Consider Before Buying an A/C Unit

The unit is made up of an outdoor unit and indoor unit. The outdoor unit can often be mounted to the outside of the truck, with the indoor unit inside the kitchen, to provide the additional cooling needed. Nonetheless, before buying your air-conditioning unit, it is imperative to consider the size of your truck, the bigger the truck the more power output you need.

Food trucks tend to range from 150-400 sq.ft, so it is crucial to consider this before installing an AC unit. Also decide how much you can afford to spend before you start looking for the ideal AC for your food truck. If you’re looking for a cheap option then you’d be looking for a portable or window AC as they tend to be the cheapest of all.

Howbeit, if you have the extra cash, then a 15000 BTU RV air conditioner which is ducted, will set you back a little more but it will do a better job. The amount of BTUs will also affect the price of all styles of AC, the higher the number the more cash you will have to spend. Most people opt for these types as they provide sustained and reliable cooling.

In addition, with so many online tutorials and detailed manufacture instructions, it makes it a simple task, especially if the wiring is done already. But this does take time and a reasonable about of DIY skill. But on the flip side, you may find yourself completely helpless when it comes to DIY; in that case, you might want to pay someone to do it. This will cost you though, the work doesn’t come cheap.

Air conditioning units consume a lot of energy. That can be a problem for a food truck that uses a portable generator. Choosing a unit that consumes less power saves you money in the long run. These units are also environmentally friendly. If you travel across the state lines on your food Truck, make sure the unit is compatible with various power sources in different counties.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should You Have Air Conditioning In A Food Truck Or Trailer?

If you run a food truck, particularly in a warmer region of the country, you will have to face extreme temperatures in your kitchen. However, one of the growing trends is to retrofit a mini split air conditioner to your food truck kitchen. If you have sufficient power supply on your food truck, a mini split AC is an easy and affordable option to keep the kitchen temperature under control.

2. How Can You Cool Your Food Truck Kitchen?

You can cool your food truck with the use of air conditioning units or fan.

3. How Food Truck Exhaust Fans Keep Kitchens Cooler?

As part of your exhaust hood ventilation system, an upblast fan draws hot air from your cooking area and exhausts it to the outside. In addition to removing hot air, food truck exhaust fans also help remove grease and smoke.

4. How Do Food Trucks Keep Cool?
  • Find a cool location. A spot in the shade is ideal.
  • Set up the awning (if you have one) when you are parked.
  • Turn off as many kitchen appliances as possible.
5. Why Do Restaurant Hood Systems Need Roof Curbs?

A roof curb is necessary for restaurant hood system because it provides a structural support around the opening to your air ducts. It also keeps your exhaust fan in a stable position, keeping it from moving around.

6. How Do Food Trucks Get Hot Water?

The water system in any food truck generates hot water through a water heater. Your food truck’s water heater will be powered by electricity. This means that they are easy to install and efficient.

7. Does Freon Leak If Your AC Is Turned Off?

Yes, Freon can leak if your AC is turned off.