Quietest Generator For Food Truck: Top 8 For Catering Vans

Quietest Generator for Food Truck

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If you are running a food truck business, you have undoubtedly already faced the hassle of trying to find a location with available electrical power that you can actually use every day – whether in a single or multiple locations – and so you are probably ready to invest in your own portable generator.

And even if you are just starting out, you may already realize that having your own generator can make all the difference, making your business more effective and productive and your life a lot easier.

The general preconception about generators, though, is that they are quite loud, and quite unpleasant for you and your customers – but in fact the latest generation of generators can be remarkably quiet, and perfect for your business.

Especially if you get the right one, which is just what we’ll talk about in this buyer’s guide for the quietest portable generators for catering vans and food trucks.

The Quietest Generators For Food Trucks – The Quick List

If you’re busy and want to get to the good stuff (not that the rest of the article isn’t good!), here are my top picks

Please note that my main recommendations are for 50A generators, which would be the standard choice for most professional mobile catering and food services – even modest sized ones.

But if you are looking for a smaller 30A generator,  I do recommend a few below, so keep reading! 

What Are The Quietest Generators For Food Trucks?

Before we answer this question, we have to consider an even more important and more basic question…

How Much Power Do You Need For Your Food Truck?

Now maybe you already know this. You have your catering van all set up and know what sized outlet you have and so what sized generator you need – and if it is a new, professionally made catering van, your electric system is probably 50 amps.

But if you are still planning, and want to build your own food truck or purchase one, my best recommendation is that you, again, go for 50 amps. 

A 30 amp eclectic system on a catering van is fine for a very small operation, with only one or two appliances that are relatively low draw, but nearly every professional out there would urge you to overshoot and wire for 50 amps, and get a generator at the same level.

Of course 30A generators, though they might not provide enough juice for most food trucks, do have the advantage of being significantly quieter, and are admittedly a bit nicer to work next to, and nicer for your customers as well.

If you have a pretty minimal setup, and are sure you can get away with a smaller, quieter and (usually) less expensive 30 ampere generator. Here are my recommendations for best quiet generator for a food truck or catering van:

Quietest 30A Generator for a Food Truck

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Best Quiet Generator For A Catering Truck – Budget

WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

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  • Noise Level: 57 DBa
  • Power Output: 3.400 Watts
  • Startup Power: 3,800 Watts
  • Plug: 30 Amp
  • Weight: 99 Pounds
  • CARB Compliant: Yes
  • Running Time: 8.5 Hours, Half Load

A super-quiet, small and light gas powered generator that is well made and dependable, and offers close to the maximum power usable in a 30 amp setup – a great value!

Best Quiet Generator For A Catering Truck – Mid-Priced

Westinghouse 3700 Watt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

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  • Noise Level: 58 DBa
  • Power Output: 3.000 Watts
  • Startup Power: 3,700 Watts
  • Plug: 30 Amp
  • Weight: 70 Pounds
  • CARB Compliant: Yes
  • Running Time: 8 Hours

For a slightly higher price, the Westinghouse is even more recommendable, with exceptional material and build quality and legendary reliability, both day to day and long term, and whisper-quiet operation.

Best Quiet Generator For A Catering Truck – Premium

Honda EU3200i 3200 Watt Super-Quiet Inverter Generator with CO-Minder

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  • Noise Level: 54-58 DBa
  • Power Output: 3,200 Watts max, 2,800 Watts nominal
  • Plug: 30 Amp
  • Weight: 70 Pounds
  • CARB Compliant: Yes
  • Running Time: 8 Hours

At a significantly higher price, the Honda 3200 is the best generator by far at this power level – incredibly well made, tough and dependable and built for a lifetime’s use. While some generators may have lower rated noise levels, in practice this Honda is the quietest, smoothest running I’ve ever experienced, and is very light and easy to haul and to use.

Quietest 50A Generator For A Food Truck

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But realistically you are going to want to go with a 50 ampere generator, which will allow you to use multiple appliances – cookers, stoves and ovens, steamers and warmers, refrigerators and freezers – as well as lights, music and everything else, all at the same time.

And while 50 amp generators are a bit louder, there are a few models, from great companies, that are surprisingly quiet and smooth in operation, and so I will recommend my favorites here:

Best And Quietest Generator For A Food Truck Overall

Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator, Remote Electric Start

Here’s a funny thing – though the excellent WEN DF1100T generator, just below, has a slightly lower rated noise level, this Westinghouse WGen9500DF seems markedly quieter in actual use, even with a higher level of output power.

I think it is because Westinghouse, wonderful company that they are, tend to be a bit more conservative than others with printed specifications, and also – or even more so – because the 9500’s engine is not just quiet, it is extremely smooth and still when running.

In terms of features and functionality, everything is in place with the Westinghouse WGen9500DF portable generator – remote electric start, fantastic running time (up to 12 hours with gas), dual-fuel capability, a full array of 20A, 30A and 50A amp outlets and dual voltage (120/240) for both the 30 and 50 amp circuits, a simple and intelligent layout and a very useful data monitor.

But beyond the great design, features and functionality, and even beyond the exceptionally quiet and pleasant operation, my main reason for recommending this wonderful Westinghouse WGen9500DF portable generator are the product’s quality and reliability – all Westinghouse generators are tested before they are shipped out, and they prove to be as dependable and long lasting as anything out there.

I should also mention that you can opt for the same generator with a CO (carbon monoxide) sensor, in the WGen9500DFc.

Best Quiet Generator For A Food Truck Or Catering Van – Budget

WEN DF1100T 11,000-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator CARB Compliant

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  • Noise Level: 72 DBa
  • Power Output: 8.300 Watts (gasoline)
  • Startup Power: 11.000 Watts (gasoline)
  • Plug: 30 Amp & 50 Amp
  • Weight: 214 Pounds
  • CARB Compliant: Yes
  • Running Time: 8.5 Hours, Half Load (gasoline)

The WEN DF1100T is a dual fuel generator, ready for both gasoline and propane, and comes with a nice propane hose with regulator. It is also a dual voltage unit, capable of both 120 and 240 volt output at 50 amps.

The running output of the 1100T is 8.300 watts using gas, and peak output is 11,000 – so plenty for all of your appliances and even room for expansion. Even with propane the running and peak outputs are still considerable – 7,500 and 9,500 watts respectively.

With all of the outlets you could possibly want or need (including a 12 volt DC plug), a nicely laid out control panel with an intelligent multi-use monitoring meter, reliable electric start and over 8 hours running time the DF1100T is pretty much the ideal low priced high power generator, and it is really quiet when running, to the point that it kind of fades into the background.

And even at the lower price, this WEN DF1100T dual fuel portable generator is a truly top-quality product. Really, in every way – the smooth, quiet engine, the solid frame, the fit and finish, the quality of the connectors and switches – this feels like an industrial level generator, and should provide many years of dependable service.

Best Quiet Generator For A Food Truck Or Catering Van – Mid-Priced

Champion Power Equipment 11,500/9,200-Watt Portable Generator with Electric Start

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I say above that the Westinghouse WGen9500DF portable generator is as dependable and long lasting as anything out there, but this Champion Power Equipment 9200 watt gas powered generator may prove me wrong.

In fact, when professionals in any business or industry want the most rugged and reliable generator available – without spending thousands and thousands on a true industrial grade unit – they buy Champion, and this 9200 is a particularly popular choice, with high power output, extreme build quality and unbelievably quiet operation considering its size and power.

The Champion 9200 will run for over 10 hours, which is enough for a whole day for many food truck operations, and I especially like the cold-start engine, which will always start right up at any temperature, and ensures you will never have a problem even in cold climates – probably the fastest and most dependable electric start I’ve used.

I also love the Champion’s intelliGAUGE usage monitor and power meter, and really the whole layout of the super high quality controls and connectors is just great. There are a couple of standard 120 volt 20 amp connectors as well as 30 amp and a 50 amp connectors, both of which are dual voltage (120/240).

With plenty of power for even bigger trucks and vans, lots of appliances and even heavy usage, great running time, easy electric start that works just as well in cold climates, seriously overbuilt commercial-grade materials and construction quality and quiet, smooth and trouble-free operation, the Champion Power Equipment 9,200 watt power generator is perfect for any mobile food business, and an easy choice for best generator for catering vans and food trucks at this competitive mid-priced level.

Quietest 50A Generator For A Food Truck Or Catering Van – High Power

Champion Power Equipment 100111 15,000/12,000-Watt Portable Generator

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  • Noise Level: 78 DBa
  • Power Output: 12,000 Watts (gasoline)
  • Startup Power: 15,000 Watts (gasoline)
  • Plug: 30 Amp & 50 Amp
  • Weight: 330 Pounds
  • CARB Compliant: Yes
  • Running Time: 9 Hours, Half Load (gasoline)

We come right back to Champion Power Equipment for our choice for quietest generator for food trucks at this highest power level – specifically, the brilliant Champion 12000 watt portable generator – though we should qualify the word “portable” here by mentioning that this big, beefy, ultra-powerful beast does weight 330 pounds!

And when I say “highest power level” we should be clear that this is really as powerful as you ever need to go in a generator for a food van with a 50 amp electrical system – a 50 amp circuit cannot draw more than 12,000 watts, and anyway even if you are in a big truck or van and running multiple appliances, fridges and and lots of other stuff, and even an air conditioner, all at the same time, you will have more than enough juice.

So why is this the best quiet generator for food vans at this high power level? Well, for one thing this is a remarkably quiet and smooth running generator given its size and output, and has a really good running time – 9 hours at half load, and often even more with light-normal usage – but it is also remarkably affordable as well, especially considering its industrial level build quality and long term reliability.

A particularly nice feature for food vans – especially in those cold climates and for those early mornings and late nights, is the cold-start technology, which ensures that the electric start will work quickly and reliably even in cold weather. This, along with the exceptionally good material and build quality of the Champion 12000, means you can totally depend on this generator day after day and in any conditions.

Of course all the niceties, features and functionality are in place with the 12000, including 1 fifty amp and 2 thirty amp dual voltage (120 & 240) outlets as well as 2 twenty amp standard 120s, a truly useful intelliGAUGE usage and power monitor, electric start and, again, long running time and especially quiet operation for its size.

All in all a brilliant product – super-tough, dependable, well designed and a joy to use. For my money the Champion Power Equipment 12000 watt is not just the quietest high power generator for food trucks, but clearly the best overall, and would in fact be my first choice for any application at this level.

Quietest 50A Generator For A Food Truck Or Catering Van – Low Power

Pulsar PG5250B 5250W Dual Fuel Portable Generator with Switch and Go Technology

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  • Noise Level: 72 DBa
  • Power Output: 4,250 Watts (gasoline)
  • Startup Power: 5,250 Watts (gasoline)
  • Plug: 30 Amp & 50 Amp
  • Weight: 115 Pounds
  • CARB Compliant: Yes
  • Running Time: 12 Hours, Half Load (gasoline)

I need to say right up front that this Pulsar 5250 is a bit limited – with only just over 4,000 watts of power, it might not be big enough for most food trucks or vans, especially with lots of appliances, multiple cooks and normal to heavy use.

But if you are looking for a smaller generator for 50 amp service, for a smaller operation, supplemental power or highly portable backup, this is the one, and it is quite a bit quieter than any of the already quiet larger models on this list.

A well built and well designed unit, the Pulsar PG5250B is a dual fuel model, using either gasoline or propane. With gas it has a nominal running wattage of 4,250 watts, and with propane its running output is 3,850 watts. 

And of course it has both 30 amp and 50 amp outlets, though unlike some other 50 amp generators the Pulsar does not have dual voltage – it is 120 volts only, without the ability to switch to 240.

There’s nothing really fancy here, just a nicely laid out control and connection panel, sturdy open-frame construction that is relatively light and easily maneuverable, and a very quiet running, smooth and reliable engine – all in all, the Pulsar PG5250B dual fuel is a perfect choice for an ultra-affordable low power portable generator for a 50 amp food truck.