Anyone ever wired a food truck?

Bob_Sacamano

Member
Location
Traverse City, MI
Occupation
electrician
I've never done one before.. Customer want's one 220V circuit, a couple 20 A outlets, some overhead LED lights (shop light style), and a generator plug in outlet on the outside of the vehicle. I'm thinking conduit or BX throughout, but he would need some type of panel box wouldn't he? All I can find is 30 A and 50 A pwer inlet kits to plug in a generator but the smallest panel they have around me is 70 Amps. The truck is only 80 square feet and it's going to be a coffee "food truck". Any guidance? I'm considering passing but I would rather not.
 

suemarkp

Senior Member
Location
Kent, WA
Occupation
Engineer
Never done a food truck, but we have some trailers that use long umbilical cords instead of power inlets. Ours are 208V 3 phase 100A or 200A pin and sleeve plugs. But for what you list, I would think a 50A plug that fits his generator would be enough power unless that 240V load is a big one. Nothing wrong with putting a 70A or 100A panel on a 50A feeder. You just may need a 50A main.

Also look to see if this install needs to be approved by a NRTL or Field Evaluation Body. If under OSHA, it may. A permit and inspection may also suffice, but I'm not sure how many areas have electrical permits and inspections for trailers or trucks.
 

Bob_Sacamano

Member
Location
Traverse City, MI
Occupation
electrician
Never done a food truck, but we have some trailers that use long umbilical cords instead of power inlets. Ours are 208V 3 phase 100A or 200A pin and sleeve plugs. But for what you list, I would think a 50A plug that fits his generator would be enough power unless that 240V load is a big one. Nothing wrong with putting a 70A or 100A panel on a 50A feeder. You just may need a 50A main.

Also look to see if this install needs to be approved by a NRTL or Field Evaluation Body. If under OSHA, it may. A permit and inspection may also suffice, but I'm not sure how many areas have electrical permits and inspections for trailers or trucks.
Thanks for the tip! I was thinking about the S/O cord option but customer specifically asked for the inlet. Now that you mention changing out the main, it seems like a stupid question. lol! It's odd how sometimes one can get tunnel vision, staying up putting together estimates!
 

al hildenbrand

Senior Member
Location
Minnesota
Occupation
Electrical Contractor, Electrical Consultant, Electrical Engineer
The truck is only 80 square feet and it's going to be a coffee "food truck". Any guidance?
Try to get the client to specify the equipment they are going to run so you can do a load calculation. Any thing else is going to give real headaches. I'd expect a freezer, refrigerator and a microwave in addition to coffee maker and an espresso, but I'm just guessing.

I had one client that couldn't understand why she couldn't use a 120 V 30 A RV-type cheater cord to run in a convention center when she had a 240 / 120 V set of loads in her food truck totalling almost 8 kW.
 

Bob_Sacamano

Member
Location
Traverse City, MI
Occupation
electrician
Try to get the client to specify the equipment they are going to run so you can do a load calculation. Any thing else is going to give real headaches. I'd expect a freezer, refrigerator and a microwave in addition to coffee maker and an espresso, but I'm just guessing.

I had one client that couldn't understand why she couldn't use a 120 V 30 A RV-type cheater cord to run in a convention center when she had a 240 / 120 V set of loads in her food truck totalling almost 8 kW.
So is it safe to say that I should figure this food truck for a continuous load, to rate the Breaker needed? e.g. they're using 35A, so I put in a 50A figuring on a 80% continuous load? Is it still safe to use Square D Homeline products or should I jump up to QO?
 
You're on the right track and there's some excellent advise above.

My take is 12- or 16-space QO panel w/ main & a 50 amp inlet. You might need a separate feed for a single large device (a friend's coffee trailer has an L14-30 for and an L5-30 just for the large Bunn brewer) depending on what will supply the truck besides the generator.

Do not Do not Do not put a bonding jumper in the truck panel. I can't count how many of those I've seen, and then removed.

For the 50 amp inlet- use a CS-style inlet but get the type with the center pin; they're more common in temporary power setups (CS6365 plug, CS6364 connector, CS6375 inlet). The ones w/o the center pin are commonly sold for RVs (and boats?).
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
Food trucks are not under the purview of the NEC and typically fall under the requirements of a health department. I would wire one like a small store following the NEC.
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I think Dennis Alwon has wired one or two.
He may chime in.

I have wired 3, I believe.... Each one was different but we used emt in most areas and some mc in other spots. Just use a 100 amp or 125 amp panel. I would probably go with a 30 amp inlet if they use land power however if a generator is involved then a 30 or 50 would work fine.

The lights don't draw much and you will probably have most of the equipment using propane so 30 amps is usually ample.

I installed a few circuits for the counter for a mixer or coffee machine or some type of appliance. Don't worry about grounding to an electrode as it isn't necessary esp. if they are moving around alot.
 

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
New York, NY
I've designed several projects for cruise ships, and they have a "no solid conductor" stipulation in their specs. Ships move and vibrate when underway, and they're worried about fatigue cracking in solid conductors. I think the same stipulation with a food truck is a good idea - no solid wire. If you use MC cable, buy MC made with stranded conductors. If you use conduit, pull stranded conductors.

Also, consider not using wire nuts - use Wago LeverLocks; they're much more secure in high vibration environments. The shipyards specifically prohibited wirenuts, and you'd be thrown off the job if you tried to use them. Wagos, or spring-cage terminal blocks were also part of the spec.


SceneryDriver
 
and you will probably have most of the equipment using propane so 30 amps is usually ample.
One can hope- I've seen a couple of trucks with 15-20 KW worth of generators(s). For a coffee truck, you'll have the espresso machine, a large brewer, maybe a 240v grinder, reefer and maybe freezer, water heater, lights & recep's; sure, a lot of that is non-continuous, but it mounts up.
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
One can hope- I've seen a couple of trucks with 15-20 KW worth of generators(s). For a coffee truck, you'll have the espresso machine, a large brewer, maybe a 240v grinder, reefer and maybe freezer, water heater, lights & recep's; sure, a lot of that is non-continuous, but it mounts up.

From the op's post it surely didn't seem like that
 

Bob_Sacamano

Member
Location
Traverse City, MI
Occupation
electrician
I've designed several projects for cruise ships, and they have a "no solid conductor" stipulation in their specs. Ships move and vibrate when underway, and they're worried about fatigue cracking in solid conductors. I think the same stipulation with a food truck is a good idea - no solid wire. If you use MC cable, buy MC made with stranded conductors. If you use conduit, pull stranded conductors.

Also, consider not using wire nuts - use Wago LeverLocks; they're much more secure in high vibration environments. The shipyards specifically prohibited wirenuts, and you'd be thrown off the job if you tried to use them. Wagos, or spring-cage terminal blocks were also part of the spec.


SceneryDriver
I spent 20 years as a #134 electrician in Chicago, so I prefer using stranded whenever possible. When this customer asked for exposed conduit so he didn't accidently drill through something when adding singage to the exterior, I couln't praise him fast enough! Speaking of Wagos, anyone have a cheap place to buy them in "one-man operation bulk"? They come out to like 40 cents a piece for the 5-wire ones, locally.
 

Bob_Sacamano

Member
Location
Traverse City, MI
Occupation
electrician
I have wired 3, I believe.... Each one was different but we used emt in most areas and some mc in other spots. Just use a 100 amp or 125 amp panel. I would probably go with a 30 amp inlet if they use land power however if a generator is involved then a 30 or 50 would work fine.

The lights don't draw much and you will probably have most of the equipment using propane so 30 amps is usually ample.

I installed a few circuits for the counter for a mixer or coffee machine or some type of appliance. Don't worry about grounding to an electrode as it isn't necessary esp. if they are moving around a lot.
Thanks for this! I can't find a QO with a main breaker, I guess I could go with MLO and no main. Homeline with a main? Espresso machine is 20 Amps on the 220V and everything else is small time. next-biggest draw is college size fridge, he mentioned maybe a small ice machine placed outside. In the location he's thinking he also has access to a 120 20A duplex mounted to the street signage for the mini-mall parking lot he's in. So that will help him with a little load like the ice machine
 

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
New York, NY
I spent 20 years as a #134 electrician in Chicago, so I prefer using stranded whenever possible. When this customer asked for exposed conduit so he didn't accidently drill through something when adding singage to the exterior, I couln't praise him fast enough! Speaking of Wagos, anyone have a cheap place to buy them in "one-man operation bulk"? They come out to like 40 cents a piece for the 5-wire ones, locally.
Amazon sells them in all sorts of different sized quantities. Cheaper than anyone local to us will sell them for.


SceneryDriver
 
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