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Instapark Mercury 10 Review

   
Best Buy Award

Solar Chargers

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: January 13, 2014
Street Price:   $63 | Compare prices at 1 resellers
Pros:  Light, inexpensive, simple, can charge two devices at once.
Cons:  No cigarette lighter adapter: only charges USB devices.
Best Uses:  Backpacking, sailing, hiking, car camping.
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Instapark
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ May 2, 2013  
Overview
This is by far the best deal in portable solar panels in our tests and it wins our Best Buy award. Even without its low price it is still an impressive performer. You can charge two USB devices at once including a tablet. It gives 10 watts of power in a relatively lightweight package. The charge does not get interrupted easily when a cloud or object passes between it and the sun. Few other panels of its size match its versatility, ease-of-use and price. If your main need is to charge a cell phone or small electronic devices, get this panel.

The Editors' Choice winner, the SolarMonkey Adventurer, is better if you want to travel light and want the want the benefit of internal storage. That said, if you don't mind a little more weight, you can combine the Mercury 10 with a $20-40 external battery for about half the cost of the Adventurer.

Our other Best Buy winner is the Bushnell Bear Grylls SolarWrap Mini. It is only half the power of the Mercury 10 but it is much lighter, more compact and comes with a built in battery. If you just want to charge a single smartphone, GPS or camera, we would go with the Bushnell SolarWrap.

If you need to charge a laptop, consider the PowerTraveller SolarGorilla or our Top Pick winner, the Goal Zero Nomad 13. There are a lot of options out there so we recommend reading our full Portable Solar Review and our upcoming Solar Battery Review to see how this panel compares to others.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

What separates this panel from competitors? It is one of the few panels tested to have two USB ports, a giant convenient pocket, and a lot of watts for the dollar and weight. Other panels will let you charge two devices at once, but generally you have to remember a second adapter if you want to charge two USB devices at once.

Performance Comparison
Click to enlarge
Mercury 10 Solar Panel Portable Solar Panel Charger
Credit: Instapark

Output Power
It is the only panel we tested that will charge a tablet and a smart phone without needing extra accessories. Perhaps more importantly, you can pass a hand over the panel and in most conditions it will keep on charging. With some of the competitors this was not the case; you had to monitor the charging much more often to make sure it hadn't been interrupted. Most panels that give 12 watts of power are much heavier.

Storage
There is a large convenient pocket for stashing your cables, phone and an external battery. Only the Goal Zero Nomad 13 had a more generous pocket. There are also sewn-in loops at the edges of the panel for clipping to trees, carabiners or string. This makes it very easy to orient the panel for optimal sun exposure.

Click to enlarge
InstaPark Mercury 10 solar panel with two USB ports and a generous pocket.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Ease of Use
If you are just charging USB devices then this is about the easiest panel to use. There are two USB ports that you can use at once. Most other panels have only one USB port or you need to remember extra adapters. We love the fact that you don't have to remember any extra parts if you are just charging USB devices.

Versatility
This panel does not come with many adapters nor can you add them later. There is no cigarette lighter adapter capability or way to charge a laptop or device that does not have a USB cable. This means there are certain devices, such as camera battery chargers, that are not easily charged from this panel. This is really a panel for charging smart phones and tablets. Other panels with a wider variety of adapters are going to be better for charging camera batteries, motorcycle batteries, laptops and a wider variety of devices.

Click to enlarge
When the InstaPark Mercury 10 is paired with an external battery, it's by far the best value in a panel and battery combo.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Weight
This panel is not light overall. However it is light per watt. All the other panels that were about as powerful were almost double the weight. Another way to look at it is that this is by far the lightest panel that can charge two devices at once.

Value
Anyway you look at it, the Mercury 10 is an amazing value. Overall it is one of the least expensive panels, and it is by far the least expensive per watt. It is also by far the least expensive panel that can charge two devices at once.

Best Application
This panel is ideal for groups with 2 to 4 people that all want to keep their smart phones and tablets charged. It is also ideal for a single person that has a "mobile office" with a tablet and smart phone that will be in heavy use in the field. We highly recommend combining this panel with an inexpensive external battery so that you can charge the battery and a device at once.

Conclusion
If you mainly charge USB devices and need more power than is available in the SolarMonkey adventurer, then this is the panel to get. If you are on a budget, then you really can't beat this panel.

Other Versions
  • Mercury 10M Solar Panel Portable Solar Charger with Battery - This is the same panel but comes with a 5200 mAh lithium rechargeable battery pack for an extra $20. While this is not a bad option, we would prefer to combine the Mercury 10 with one of our top rated battery packs, for about the same cost.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 13, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 2 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Jan 13, 2014 - 02:34am
pjeaje · Runner
Nice panel. It can charge my Samsung Galaxy S3 without too much trouble. Needs a better closing flap on the storage pouch to prevent little things falling out.

Does anyone know how I could hook up 2 of these panels to give out more charging power?

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 7, 2013 - 04:01pm
Rankin · Climber · Greensboro, North Carolina
Cool panel. Unfortunately, since Apple came out with iOS7, it's virtually impossible to charge an iPhone directly. I just charge an external battery with it, and it works great for that, as long as it's not too cloudy.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Mercury 10 Solar Panel Portable Solar Panel Charger
Credit: Instapark
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Seller Price
Amazon $62.70  -  37% off!
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