One of the things that I encountered as a small business was how solar panel pricing changes on what seems to be a constant basis. Granted, the technology is cheaper today than it was in the previous decade. The tech is also superior, but raising the price in the spring to make up for low demand in the cold months seemed – cold. Even so, it’s usually not unbearable because we can shop around and still find the best deals to pass along to customers.
Then the folding panel comes into the equation. Two years ago we dropped PowerFilm because they raised the price $50 per 10W panel without any improvement to the product itself all based on a claim that the material cost went up. Really – more likely no one was buying those super expensive 1-2kw tent sized panels designed for the military. Having once worked for the military I know first hand that when the government isn’t interested in spending money on tech your bottom line dries up – fast. So they decided to pass that cost “to stay viable” to the little guy. So be it.
Cost and availability, how to balance this to keep our products affordable and readily available to the public? Well yesterday I ran across this flexible panel from HQST. Seems originally it was a Renogy product, they had some design challenges, HQST bought their stock, someone is working to overcome said design challenges, yadda-yadda. Bottom line is these panels got good reviews from a significant number of verified purchases.
If we added this line to our kit options we could offer a 50W flex panel at about the same cost as a 12W folding panel. If we can ascertain this flex panel will be available for at least a year we’ll add both a 100W and 50W option. These are noncrystalline and not as easily stowed as a folding\rollable panel BUT when considering their durability, relative flex capability, and low cost – this seems to be a good option to those high dollar folding brands and easier to handle than the aluminum framed traditional panels.