Thanks for all the replies. I’ve seen this done on lots of commercial boards (with ESP and other modules) so I know its possible. Really my question is about the solder reflow profile. I’ve had about a dozen surface mount boards made in the last 2 years using PCBWay and never once have they asked me about conflicting solder reflow profiles. Do they even check the profile for the parts I specify or just use a standard? I really wonder.
Hand soldering / hot air… I suck at it. I had some breakout boards made with just the footprint and I botched all three The ground pad underneath is hard to solder.
As for cost in Canada the module costs about $5 depending on ram/antenna combo whereas the devkit costs about $15. Thats 3 times the cost. Now I am not making 100K but rather 100. Still thats $1000 my client doesn’t need to spend.
Using Aliexpress etc I don’t know what I am getting. Its great for dev/experimenting and one/two offs, but if I can’t buy it on Digikey/Mouser etc its not okay for production.
Building up the ESP32 from bare chips (ie CPU, ram. antenna etc) can’t be justified to my client. Spending the dev money on this would be insane. RF certification I don’t even want to think about.
Lastly, supply chain is imploding. I bet there is a container full of Espressif product sitting off the port of Los Angeles right now. Latest shipment by DHL from PCBWay was on hold for 5 days in Shenzen and is still on hold for 4+ days in Hong Kong.