Thank you for your patience and continued support! The Fenix team is currently working around the clock (literally). We’ve got engineers in San Francisco and Shenzhen and business development folks all over East Africa.
We’re excited to let you know that the first 475 ReadySet Solar Kits have landed in the United States. While many of them will be sent out to backers this month, unfortunately due to US Customs and logistics delays, we will not be able to deliver to everyone who was expecting to receive them in October. But rest assured, all of the standard ReadySet kits ordered will ship before the end of November. For those of you who ordered extra solar panels, they are scheduled to ship from our factory this Tuesday and then arrive in the US in mid-November. We’ll then pack and ship the ReadySets + extra panels as quickly as we can and get them to you so you can get powered up!
We’re sure you’re curious about what’s been happening behind the scenes. Here’s a short saga of what’s been slowing things down:
- While the first 175 ReadySets were being shipped, the U.S. Government launched a tariff on solar panels coming from China. We were faced with surprising customs delays and import duties potentially exceeding the total value of the ReadySet kits, which would have forced us to bring in the ReadySets at a massive loss or destroy the inventory. Thankfully (after much negotiation) we were able to avoid throwing the kits in the dumpster and got them out of hock, though not without paying a pretty steep duty. As a result, we’ve had to find a new solar panel supplier to ensure that all USA-bound ReadySets will have non-PRC silicon. For everyone’s edification, the Department of Commerce recently clarified its tariff policy (New York Times story). If you’re curious, the difference in cost of a 15W solar panel made w/Taiwanese Silicon vs. Chinese Silicon is roughly 41 cents. The good news coming from all of this drama is that we’ve found a second supplier of solar panels, and the competition between our two sources has helped bring down our costs. We think we’ll now be able to offer ReadySets in the US for $275 rather than $300.
- We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the performance of our ReadySets, and in part that is through firmware changes. While the first batch of Kickstarter ReadySets were in-transit across the Pacific, the Fenix engineering team created a firmware update that we thought everyone would benefit from. That meant we’d need to take those 175 ReadySets out of their boxes, plug a special programming cable into the USB port and send a firmware update. Normally that would be easy enough to do, but the ReadySets were on their way to an Amazon warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona. We had visions of flying down to Arizona, renting a refrigerated truck, picking up the units from the Amazon warehouse in the desert, performing the updates (in the refrigerated truck!) and then driving the units back to Amazon. Long story short, that was a non-starter. The 175 units, and in fact all 475 (don’t get me started!), are now on their way up to California from Amazon warehouses in Phoenix AZ, Charleston NC, and Carlise PA. If you’re doing a Kickstarter and thinking about fulfillment services, I have some thoughts for you...
Without the customs delays, firmware updates, and the ensuing logistical nightmare we would have easily been able to ship all October units in October. We really do apologise for the delays! Live and learn. We just want you to know that we’re incurring this additional expense and headache to ensure that you have the best ReadySet experience possible.
We’ll continue cranking away and try to deliver them to you ASAP. More updates on our African adventures coming shortly.
Thanks again for your patience and keep questions, comments and ideas coming!
-Brian, Mike, and the Fenix team
P.S. If you haven’t sent us your address, please respond using the link below so we can send your package as soon as its ready!