WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Finding a generator in a time of weekly PG&E power shutoffs is almost like the cliche of finding a needle in a haystack.

ABC10 called hardware stores in Stockton, Sacramento, Lodi and more and all said they were sold out! But if you are lucky to find one, what are some of the tips you should know to stay safe?

We went to Valley Power in West Sacramento and spoke to Sales Engineer Nick Padilla for advice.

Question: What are some of the mistakes homeowners do when they first purchase a generator or have never used one before? 

Answer: Well, most of it is safety-related. These portable generators, they need to be outside. They need to be well ventilated. They get hot. People get burned.

Q: What about how to wire your generator for power?

A: Make sure your power is shut off to the utility before you energize anything in your home.

Q: What size generator should you have for your home?

A: The basic residence is going have no more than 5kw load and that the homeowner needs to be aware that they've got to match up their voltages.

Q: How long do generators stay on?

A: Depending on the load of the unit, 5 to 8 hours. If the thing is fully loaded, you might get 5, 6 [hours]. [If it's lightly loaded, 8 [hours], maybe even get 12 [hours].

Q:  Should you buy or rent a generator?

A: On the larger stuff, 25kw and up, it makes sense to rent. But, unfortunately, rentals are hard to come by these last weeks. Purchases are usually in the 2 1/2 to maybe 6 1/2-7kw range, possibly 12kw. That's what you'll see in the commercial market.

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