7 Steps to Solar Panels in Louisiana

Louisiana residents still save nearly $14,000 on average by converting to solar.1 

The state has the highest energy consumption in the country, which can be offset using solar energy.2

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Homeowners find that going solar is worth it in Louisiana in most cases. The average cost of a solar panel system in LA is around $32,125. After local solar incentives and rebate programs, that average can come down to around $22,488.

This is well above the national average due to the large system size — 12.5 kilowatts (kW), the largest in the country — needed to meet local energy demands. Although expensive, photovoltaic (PV) systems still usually pay for themselves in Louisiana and then save homeowners an additional $13,646 on energy bills, on average.

In the following sections, we’ll explain the entire process you can follow from start to finish to go solar in Louisiana. You can use the links below to skip to a specific section.

Step 1: What to Consider When Buying Solar Panels

Step 2: Getting a Quote from a Solar Provider

Step 3: Signing a Solar Contract

Step 4: What to Expect on Solar Panel Installation Day

Step 5: Final Inspection for Installed Solar Panels

Step 6: Permission to Operate (PTO)

Step 7: Sit Back and Enjoy Your Solar Energy

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Step 1: What to Consider When Buying Solar Panels in Louisiana

Since solar conversion is so expensive in Louisiana, there are a few important things you should consider before you decide to convert. We’ll discuss the most important factors in the following sections.

Research If Solar Panels Are a Good Fit For You in Louisiana

First, you want to make sure that converting to solar will be a worthwhile investment for you. Although most homes in the state do well with solar, there’s no guarantee that conversion will benefit you as much as it will other solar customers in your area.

First, we recommend figuring out approximately how many panels you need to power your home. You can use our solar calculator to get an idea, as this takes into consideration your roof size, the direction your roof faces and tree coverage.

If your system size is estimated above the average 12.5 kW system, then you can assume that the sun exposure on your property is below average, which means solar panels are less valuable for your home.

Next, we suggest you think about the local weather conditions. Louisiana as a whole sees an average of 222 sunny days per year, which is well above average for the country as a whole.3 Some cities receive less sun than others, though, so you should look at specific sun irradiation and annual sun exposure for your particular area before deciding.

Explore Net Metering and other Louisiana Solar Incentives

Another crucial thing to think about is net metering, also called net energy metering or NEM, and other Louisiana solar incentives and rebates that can make going solar more worthwhile.

Net metering is a billing policy that lets you generate more power than your home needs and then earn credits for the excess energy. You can pay down future electric bills with the credits or, in some cases, receive a check for overage.

Unfortunately, NEM is not mandated by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC), in part because the state doesn’t have a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. As such, you’re not guaranteed to have access to the program. While it’s not required, some electricity providers still offer it to promote solar adoption.

Below is a quick list of the net metering policies available from the largest energy companies in the state:

  • Entergy: Thankfully, Entergy, the biggest power supplier in the Pelican State, does offer NEM. However, its solar buyback program offers an avoided-cost rate for excess power, which is well below the retail rate.4 This is still beneficial but not quite as helpful as having access to the full retail rate.
  • Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO): SWEPCO offers distributed generation, which is similar to net energy metering. The electric company offers between $0.06 and $0.12 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) sent to the grid, which will typically be well below the retail rate for power.
  • Cleco Power: Cleco provides access to distributed generation as well, and it also uses an avoided-cost rate to credit solar customers who installed systems in 2020 and beyond.5 Again, this isn’t ideal, but it’s still helpful.
  • Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO): DEMCO provides access to net energy metering but also uses the avoided-cost rate for energy credits.6 This is better than nothing, but it will end up saving Louisianans less over time than the full retail rate would.

Considering whether you have access to NEM — and also thinking about the credit rate — is a crucial part of figuring out how worthwhile solar conversion will be for your home and what your long-term savings will be.

The table below includes some quick facts and statistics about the cost and solar savings expected in Louisiana. We’ll also include the same information as averages for the U.S. for direct comparison.


Louisiana State Average United States National Average
Solar Power System Size Required 12.5 kW 9 kW
Typical Cost Per Watt to Install Photovoltaic (PV) Equipment $2.57 $2.66
Average Total System Cost Before Federal Solar Income Tax Credit $32,125 $23,940
Average Federal Solar Tax Credit Value $9,638 $7,182
Average Total System Cost After Federal Credit $22,488 $16,758
Average Panel Payback Period 14 years 12 years
Average Lifetime Savings of Converting to Solar $13,646 $22,379

As you can see, Louisiana solar panels aren’t quite as beneficial as they are in most other states, but they still save a significant amount of money over time.

Research How to Finance Solar Panels

When you’ve done the preliminary research and have decided that solar conversion will be worthwhile for you, you can start looking into how to pay for your system.

First, you should get an idea of how many panels you’ll need to offset your energy consumption. For this, we recommend using our solar calculator to get an accurate system size estimate.

You can then use your system size and expected energy production rates to estimate how much you’re expected to save by converting to solar. One of the biggest benefits of converting to solar power is the savings you see on your energy bills. You can use your monthly electric bill and estimated solar production to figure out your expected annual and lifetime savings.

Once you confirm that the savings you’ll see over time are worth the investment into renewable energy sources, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to pay for your system. You’ll have access to four payment options for solar, which we’ll explain briefly below:

  • Cash purchase: Buying your system in cash will obviously come with the highest upfront cost, and this makes it prohibitively expensive for many homeowners. However, you’ll forgo paying interest, which means your all-in system total will be as low as possible, and your long-term savings will be maximized. Cash purchases let you take advantage of all Louisiana solar incentives.
  • Solar loan: A solar loan is a financing arrangement for your PV system. You pay principal and interest each month, which drives up your total system price and reduces your savings a bit. However, it’s a more convenient and accessible way to pay, with minimal or no down payment requirements. Solar loans let you take advantage of all PV incentives.
  • Solar lease: In a solar lease, you pay your installer a monthly fee to rent the panels, and then you get to use all of the power they produce. Unlike cash and loans, leases don’t let you take the federal investment tax credit (ITC). The long-term savings are also much lower, but there’s usually no down payment required and less stringent credit requirements.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): In a PPA, you let a solar installer put panels on your roof and then agree to purchase the electricity they generate to power your home. You’ll see the lowest savings overall with this arrangement, and you cannot take the federal government’s tax credit. However, it’s a highly accessible arrangement and requires little to no money down.

Louisianans also have access to a statewide financing program called the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) offered by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This program provides low-interest loans for PV equipment for up to $12,000.7 The down payment requirements are also minimal to keep the program as accessible as possible.

You can check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for more information on this financing program.

When you’re deciding between these payment options, it’s useful to think about the estimated solar panel payback period, which is how long it takes solar panels to pay for themselves. The longer the payback period, the lower your overall return on investment (ROI) will be with solar conversion.

Step 2: Getting a Quote from a Solar Provider

If you’ve done a bit of research and have determined that solar is a good financial investment for you, then you can begin looking into installation companies in your area to get free quotes. We’ll explain how to go about this in the following sections and why this is one of the more crucial parts of the process.

Picking a Solar Installer

The solar system installer you choose will play a major role in your overall experience, not only in terms of the installation but also in your experience and savings after the work is done. There are a few qualities we recommend carefully considering in your installer, including the following:

  • At least five years of experience installing PV equipment.
  • Good warranty coverage — we’ll discuss what this means in a later section
  • At least one technician with certification from NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners).
  • Good customer service and customer reviews online.
  • Affordable pricing.
  • Offers the payment option that works best for you and your budget.

According to the SEIA, there are around 30 solar companies available to choose from in your area, which can make your decision process time-consuming.8 We’ll include a quick list of the companies that we believe are best suited to serve you below:

  • Solar Alternatives — Regional Installer
  • ADT Solar — National Installer
  • South Coast Solar — Regional Installer
  • Phoenix Exteriors — Regional Installer

For more information on why we’ve chosen these companies, you can check out our guide to choosing the best solar panel installation company in Louisiana.

What to Expect After Requesting a Quote

Once you reach out to your chosen company and request a quote, you’ll get put on the calendar for a call or meeting with a sales representative. Most companies now offer virtual meetings over Zoom or a similar service.

Before that call, you should be prepared to provide a recent power bill, which your rep will use to estimate your monthly and annual savings, as well as the system size you need. On the call, you should also be prepared to discuss what uses electricity in your home, such as appliances, HVAC equipment and more.

Your sales rep should set up an in-person home inspection for another rep to look at and measure the roof. They might also need access to your home’s interior to see attic space, your electric meter and your water meter — to confirm your home is grounded properly.

After the inspection is done, your solar project will move to the design team. Next, your sales rep should contact you again to discuss the system design and provide you with a formal solar proposal. Your proposal should include the following information:

  • The total size of your system in kilowatts (kW) and the expected energy production rate in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
  • Information about how many and what brand of panels you’ll need and how they’ll be arranged on your roof.
  • The total cost of solar panels before and after the solar incentives and solar rebates available in Louisiana.
  • The estimated time frame it will take for your panels to pay for themselves, as well as the total energy savings you’ll enjoy after that.
  • An estimated schedule for installation.
  • A breakdown of all additional costs, including permit fees and inspection fees.
  • Information about your payment option and when payments are due.
  • Information about your warranty coverage.

The process to get a solar quote is a bit time-consuming, but we still recommend getting a few estimates before deciding which installer to choose. Having at least three estimates will give you the option to move forward with the one that provides the best value for the money. Plus, some installers may offer price matching, so you could end up getting a deal if you have multiple quotes.

Consider Purchasing Solar Accessories

Your clean energy system quote will include panels and either inverters or microinverters, but you may also want to consider add-on products at this point in the process. Below is a quick breakdown of some of the most common solar add-ons that Louisianans choose:

  • Solar batteries: Solar batteries — like the Tesla Powerwall — store electricity gathered by your PV panels for use when your production isn’t sufficient enough to support your consumption. Solar batteries can maintain power through blackouts — which are more common in your area than most other states — but they can also provide effective net energy metering.9 This is crucial for offsetting the above-average utility bills in LA, especially since NEM isn’t mandated in the state.
  • Energy efficiency upgrades: Since Louisiana residents have a higher energy consumption than taxpayers in any other state in the country, many choose to couple their panels with energy efficiency upgrades, which many solar providers in the area offer. These include installing smart thermostats, new insulation, Energy Star windows and doors and more.
  • Solar carports: Solar carports provide additional roof space on your property to install PV panels. This is helpful in your area due to the well-above-average system size needed — 12.5 kW as compared to the national average of 9.5 kW. The additional eight panels, on average, needed in the Pelican State may not fit on your home’s roof, so adding in a carport might be necessary.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers: Finally, EVs have slowly become more popular in the state. However, the charging infrastructure is the least developed of nearly any state.10 Residents looking to reduce their carbon footprint further by purchasing an EV may want to consider installing an at-home charger for convenience.

Step 3: Signing a Solar Contract in Louisiana

If you agree with the proposal and are comfortable with the system price indicated on it, you can move forward with signing the contract. Of course, this is a crucial time to make sure the terms are appropriate for your needs. We’ll discuss some things to consider during this step in the following sections.

How Do Solar Warranties Work in Louisiana?

One of the first things you’ll want to check in your contract is the language about your included solar warranties. There are three main types of warranty coverage you should consider, including the following:

  • Labor warranties: Labor warranties guarantee that you won’t experience any major issues or property damage as a result of the installation labor. Some of the best labor warranties include roof leak coverage, which is helpful in your area, given that the annual rainfall is more than 1.5x the national average.11 Labor warranties last, on average, for ten years.
  • Panel efficiency warranties: Efficiency warranties guarantee that your panels will maintain a certain percentage of their initial efficiency over a designated term. The average efficiency warranty guarantees 80% efficiency after 20 years.
  • Equipment warranties: Equipment warranties protect against manufacturer defects. These typically last for 25 years.

When Can I Expect Solar Service to Go Live?

Solar panel system installation in Louisiana usually gets completed between two and three months after signing the contract. There are a few things that can make this process take a bit longer, including:

  • Delays with permits from your local building department.
  • Backordered products — usually, panels have good availability, but products like Tesla Powerwalls are often put on a waitlist of up to six months.
  • Weather — Louisiana sees more rain than most other states, and inclement weather can cause minor delays if the conditions make installation unsafe.

Solar Panel Permits in Louisiana

The State of Louisiana doesn’t govern permits, but every municipality in the state does require either building permits or electric permits for PV equipment installation. Louisiana solar permits typically cost between $50 and $250.

For example, New Orleans charges a $60 base fee for permit application, plus $5 for every $1,000 worth of construction cost.12 Given the typical installation cost in the area, that’s an average permit cost of $220 for New Orleans customers.

The City of Baton Rouge charges a $60 plan review fee plus a $40 permit fee, which totals $100 for solar permits.13

Your installer should handle all of the permitting paperwork — and may have to based on local regulations — and include the fees in your free quote.

Solar & Utility Interconnection

Interconnection is what allows your rooftop solar system to be grid-tied, providing you access to power from your utility company if and when your panels fail to support your consumption — like at night or on cloudy days. Interconnection is required in order to take advantage of net metering if the policy is available to you.

Most utility providers require an interconnection application, which includes an inspection to confirm your system is connected properly. We’ll include some information on the interconnection requirements for the larger providers in your area below.

  • Entergy: Entergy has a simple interconnection application that needs to be filled out and submitted.14 Your installer should handle the application process, especially since a one-line drawing of your system setup is required alongside the application for approval.
  • Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO): SWEPCO uses a convenient online portal called PowerClerk to handle interconnection applications.15 Your installer should still carry out the application process for you.
  • Cleco Power: Cleco requires that you or your installer — usually the latter — fill out the Standard Interconnection Evaluation Form before connecting to the grid.16
  • Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO): DEMCO requires that your installer complete the Interconnection and Parallel Operation Agreement to be considered for interconnection and net metering.

The process of applying for interconnection and scheduling the final inspection could extend your installation timeline a bit. However, it’s still worth doing, as it provides you the option of pulling power from the grid and is required for net energy metering if the program is available to you.

Step 4: What to Expect on Solar Panel Installation Day in Louisiana

On the day your installer schedules to begin the installation process, the installation team will arrive early and will usually begin outside your home on your roof. One of the most common questions customers ask is, “do I need to be home for solar panel installation?” The answer is yes! Your installation team will need access to your home’s interior at some point, so you should plan to be home all day.

The entire process to install your renewable energy equipment from start to finish usually takes between six and 12 hours. The larger system sizes needed in your area could extend the timeframe a bit and require splitting the installation work into two days.

If your installer also schedules an inspection with your utility provider for interconnection on the installation day, you could be looking at additional time. Solar inspections take 30 minutes to an hour in most cases and are completed after the installation is done.

Step 5: Final Inspection for Installed Solar Panels in Louisiana

After the system is set up and connected to the grid, you’ll need to close out your open permits for construction. This requires a final inspection done by your building department. In some cases, your inspector will be able to complete a drive-by inspection. In others, you may need to be home to provide interior access.

Inspections seem unnecessary, but they help the building department ensure your system is installed properly. Your permits also cannot be closed out without an inspection, and open permits can make selling your home more difficult.

Solar inspections shouldn’t come with a cost unless you miss your inspection appointment and need to reschedule.

After the inspection, it’s on you to make sure your system is working properly. Many installers will provide you with access to a solar monitoring app or website to keep an eye on how your panels are performing.

Step 6: Permission to Operate (PTO) in Louisiana

Once your system is installed, and your inspections are all completed, you should be granted Permission to Operate, or PTO. This confirms that your panels are set up properly and safely be turned on if they haven’t already.

At this point, you should ask your installer if your panels come with solar monitoring software. They will usually be willing to help get you set up on the app.

The last thing you need to keep in mind is what to do if you run into any major issues with your panels, like an electrical fire. First, you’re urged to call 911 for emergency help. Next, you should call the emergency number for your power provider. We’ll include the numbers for the major utility companies in your area below:

  • Entergy: 1-800-968-8243
  • Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO): 1-888-218-3919
  • Cleco Power: 1-800-622-6537
  • Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO): 1-844-693-3626

Step 7: Sit Back and Enjoy Your Solar Energy in Louisiana

At this point, all of the hard work is done, and you can finally sit back and enjoy the energy savings you’ll see from your PV equipment. Not only will your electric bills be lower, but you’ll also have decreased your reliance on fossil fuels and made your home more energy-efficient and sustainable.

Additionally, your property value should increase as a result of going solar. The average home value jumps up by around 4.1% after solar adoption, so you should see an upside to your installation even if you sell your home.17

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If you’re looking for larger regional, statewide or national companies to tackle your solar project, or if you live outside of one of the major LA cities, you can refer to our Louisiana solar installer guide for more information and recommendations.

FAQ: Solar Panels in Louisiana

Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we get from residents in your area about the process of going solar and what to expect along the way.

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Article author
Dan Simms is an experienced writer with a passion for renewable energy. As a solar and EV advocate, much of his work has focused on the potential of solar power and deregulated energy, but he also writes on related topics, like real estate and economics. In his free time — when he's not checking his own home's solar production — he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing.
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Expert reviewer
Kristina Zagame is a journalist, editor and content writer with expertise in solar and other energy-related topics. Before joining EcoWatch, Kristina was a TV news reporter and producer, covering a wide variety of topics including West Coast wildfires and hurricane relief efforts. Kristina’s reporting has taken her all over the U.S., as well as to Puerto Rico and Chile.

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