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AC

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Food Truck Kitchen High Temperatures

Food truck owners in Northern climates are rejoicing. Spring is here and with that means increased foot traffic and nice weather. At the same time it also means higher temperatures inside their food truck kitchens. Because of this fact, more vendors will be using their air conditioning units just to keep their truck kitchens bearable to work in.

The typical food truck air conditioner is a fairly simple device that transfers heat from the inside of the truck to outside. As anyone who has worked in any commercial kitchen knows…the hotter it gets, the tougher it is to work in that environment. With that said, this simple piece of equipment can help keep a food truck’s kitchen from reaching above 100 degrees.

So how do you keep yours working? There is very little maintenance involved with a food truck air conditioner but it is important that you take the steps necessary to prevent any problems and keep your kitchen as cool as possible.

Keep Filter Clean

The process of cooling the interior air requires that it passes through a coil to remove the heat and is then returned. The only protection to prevent the coil becoming dirty and clogged is the interior filter so it is extremely important to keep the filter clean. Some filters need to be replaced with an exact match while others are made of a common filter material that can be cut to fit.

Check Thermostat Location

Poor thermostat can create cooling problems for your truck. A bad location cans cause the interior temperature to become too hot, too cold, or cause frequent cycling of the air conditioner. If your thermostat is in the direct sun, directly below the air distribution you will need to take measures to correct this condition.

Check Installation Bolts

Most rooftop air conditioners are secured from the interior of the truck using 3 or 4 bolts that go through the interior ceiling assembly and pull down on the upper unit which “sandwich” the A/C onto the roof. The upper unit has a 1″ thick foam gasket that gets compressed  to about 1/2″ against the food truck´s roof during installation and prevents water from intruding.

A common problem comes from bolts that either weren´t properly tightened by the builder or have become loose from the vibration of travel. It´s a good idea to check these bolts during every filter cleaning. The bolts should be snug BUT NOT OVER TIGHTENED. If the bolts are over tightened, the gasket can become over-compressed and cause the drain holes on the bottom of the AC to rest directly on the roof of your truck. This can cause the drain pan to drain too slowly and water to overflow into your kitchen.

Troubleshooting Your Food Truck Air Conditioner

A/C Not operating - 1) Verify power from the generator by checking any wall outlet for 110v. 2) Check the AC breaker in the truck’s electrical breaker panel. 3) Check for a blown12v fuse in your fuse panel. Although the air conditioner operates on 110 volt, the electronics that operate the thermostat and other functions operate on 12 volt and are required for operation.

AC hums but no cold air blowing out - 1) The compressor is running and the fan is not which would indicate the fan motor is bad or 2) it may have insects that have gotten inside and caused problems. 3) The coils have iced up not allowing the air to pass through.

AC keeps humming after it is turned off - This is an indication of a thermostat or electronic control problem that will require a technician to diagnose.

AC runs but won´t cool – There are several possibilities here. It could be that the air conditioner cannot keep up with the outside temperatures. The easiest way to verify proper cooling would be to run for 20 minutes and then test the temperature of the intake air at the filter and then test the outgoing temperature at the closest outlet to the air conditioner. There should be a temperature difference of 18-22 degrees. If there is, the air conditioner is working as hard as it can.

If your food truck doesn’t have a/c, check out this article on how you can stay cool: Keeping Cool in Your Food Truck without AC

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Unless you’re living in the Arctic you’ve probably noticed that summer is here. Keeping cool when temperatures reach record highs isn’t just about comfort. When it’s 100 degrees outside, it can be 120 degrees or warmer in your food truck.

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Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

As it turns out that there are plenty of cheap, easy ways to beat the summer heat without beating the environment or your wallet. Green isn’t just cool: cool is green. 

The following tips can help you keep cool all summer long.

  • If available, select a cool location when parking your food truck or cart. A spot in the shade is ideal. Make sure that any nearby trees or overhanging branches are stable and will not fall and damage your mobile kitchen.
  • Set up the awning (if you have one) when you are parked. The awning shades not only the service window but the side of the food truck, protecting your customers and employees from the sun’s sweltering rays.
  • Turn off as many kitchen appliances as possible. We understand that you run a mobile food business and the kitchen is where you make your money, but make sure you minimize the heat load as much as possible. Lights, televisions, laptops and other electronics generate heat. If you are using the refrigeration unit, you absolutely need to keep this running. To limit the amount of energy used, and heat generated, by the fridge, make sure the coils on the back are clean and well maintained.
  • Open the windows at night or any time there is a breeze. This will create a crosswind in the vehicle and can significantly help in cooling the temperature. Use small battery- or solar-powered fans throughout the vehicle to keep air circulating.
  • Cover the windows of the truck with blackout curtains or windscreen covers. These keep sunlight and heat out.
  • If it is an option in your area, cook outside. Using the oven or grill heats up the small space inside a food cart in no time.
  • Another great method for keeping cool is to wear loose fitting clothing, especially if they are made of cotton, to draw moisture away from your body. Dress for the heat by wearing shorts, and by all means, whites instead of dark-colored clothing. The dark clothing attracts the heat and will leave you hot and steamy.
  • A quick and effect way to cool yourself down is by wetting a towel with cold water and wrapping it around your neck. It cools the passing blood in your veins and cools the body’s temperature. Speaking of wet towels, jump in a cool shower to cool down when you’ve just had enough. This is a great practice just before you go to bed also. It removes the sweat from your body and opens the skin’s pores to allow the body to cool.

During our research for this article we ran across an AC product that can be used in the hot summer months, while allowing you to keep your vehicle engine off. Although designed with the RV camper in mind, we feel this is a good, low price AC unit that will help cool your truck even in the warmest part of the summer.

If you have any additional suggestions to truck owners looking to stay cool inn the summer, please share your input in the comment section below.

 

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