The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Instapark Mercury 10W Review

For an inexpensive 10W panel, the Mercury 10W charges devices reliably and effectively.
Instapark Mercury 10
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Price:  $60 List
Pros:  Light, inexpensive, simple, can charge two devices at once
Cons:  Low capacity, bulky, heavy
Manufacturer:   Instapark
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 22, 2017
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 14
  • Charging Speed - 30% 8
  • Charge Interruption Recovery - 20% 8
  • Multiple Device Charging Speed - 20% 5
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Last year, the Mercury 10W wowed our reviewers as it outperformed some of the toughest competitors in our side-by-side testing. This year, it continues to impress, holding its own with the more substantial capacity panels, for a lower price. If you are not ready to go for a larger wattage panel, the 10W is a reasonable mid-range option, for cost and efficiency.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Instapark Mercury 10
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   
Price $60 List$59.99 at Amazon$39.99 at Amazon$35 List$39.99 at Amazon
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Pros Light, inexpensive, simple, can charge two devices at onceInexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditionsInexpensive, lightweight, portable, charges quicklyRelatively lightweight for panel type, inexpensive, charges devices efficientlyLarge storage pocket, comes in multiple colors, durable
Cons Low capacity, bulky, heavyBulky, heaviest weightLow output power, cannot charge multiple devices at onceIneffective if relying only on solar for power, less durable than other battery packsHeavy, bulky
Bottom Line For an inexpensive 10W panel, the Mercury 10W charges devices reliably and effectively.We were impressed by its ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably; its reasonable price is the cherry on top.This panel impressed us with its fast charging speeds and its lightweight, portable design.An efficient, compact battery pack with a 2W solar charger on it; a top performer.Well designed, comes in multiple colors, and is durable - but also bulky.
Rating Categories Instapark Mercury 10W BigBlue 28W ECEEN 13W Renogy 15,000mAh PowerGreen 21W
Charging Speed (30%)
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8
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8
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7
Charge Interruption Recovery (20%)
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8
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10
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6
10
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5
10
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7
Multiple Device Charging Speed (20%)
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5
10
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Weight & Portability (20%)
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Durability (10%)
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Specs Instapark Mercury... BigBlue 28W ECEEN 13W Renogy 15,000mAh PowerGreen 21W
Panel Size (watts) 10W 28W 13W 2W 21W
Weight (measured) 18 oz 23.5 oz 12 oz 9.5 oz 20.3 oz
# of USB outlets 2 2 2 2 2
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 2 amp 2 amp 2 amp 2 amps 2 amp
Battery kit? Yes No No Yes No
Size folded 9" x 6" x 2" 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 11.4" x 6.1" x 0.6" 6.3" x 3.1" x 0.7" 11.4" x 6.8" x 1.3"
Battery? No No No Yes No
Charge tablet? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Charge laptop? No Yes No Npo No
Panel Type Mono-crystalline PET Polymer Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline Mono-crystalline
Size opened 9" x 22" x 0.5" 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 11.4" x 14.3 x .15" 6.3" x 3.1" 0.7" 27.6" x 11.4" x 0.2"
Battery input (Volts / Amps) n/a n/a n/a 5V 2A n/a
Charge capacity (mAh) n/a n/a n/a 15,000mAh n/a
Charge iPhone/smartphone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Direct USB Plug? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Daisy Chain? No No No No No
12-Volt connection No No No No No
Warranty 1 year 2 years 30 day return 1 year 1 year

Our Analysis and Test Results

After doing all the math, the Mercury 10W held its own as a lightweight, efficient, robust, and rugged solar panel. It is small enough to fit in a backpack or duffel bag for travel, while still having enough power to charge electronics efficiently. The panel's simple and smart design has stood the test of time, and the Mercury has continued to impress us during testing. Though it is only a 10W panel, the Mercury's tri-fold design provides a greater surface area of solar cells, which increases the panel's power and ability to charge in sub-prime conditions.

Performance Comparison


The Instapark Mercury 10W working to charge a battery in prime conditions and sun orientation.
The Instapark Mercury 10W working to charge a battery in prime conditions and sun orientation.

Charge Interruption Recovery


Unlike the other low capacity panels, the Mercury 10W has three panels of solar cells, which proved to be a big advantage in our charge interruption tests. During the first 10 minutes of our test, it charged our battery to 2%. Nothing too impressive here, but later in the trial, it was able to charge to 3% even after being shaded and unshaded. That's saying something! The other highlight of this test was its ability to deliver a sustainable charge even when one of the panels was completely covered. This is another benefit to this model or any one of the 20W contenders, which will also have three sections of solar cells. More surface area means a more sustained and reliable charge.

The Instapark Mercury is a tri-fold panel  giving it more versatility and capabilities than the two-panel design of the Anker 15W and the Nekteck 14W.
The Instapark Mercury is a tri-fold panel, giving it more versatility and capabilities than the two-panel design of the Anker 15W and the Nekteck 14W.

Charging Speed


The Mercury 10W charged our external batteries as quickly and efficiently as panels with much larger capacities. After three hours of charge time with the external battery, it had charged up to 50%. This shows how efficient it is for its size. Similarly, it took 30 minutes for it to charge an iPhone 27%.

Using this USB multimeter  we found that the measured output was often less than what the manufacturers' claimed.
Using this USB multimeter, we found that the measured output was often less than what the manufacturers' claimed.

Multiple Device Charging Speed


The Mercury 10W had a difficult time charging multiple devices at once; this makes sense, as the panel is only a 10W panel, so each USB port is getting less than 5W at any given time. Typically, when we plugged in our multimeter into all of the panels, the actual output capacity was lower than the companies claimed on the packaging. If you are looking for a contender that would consistently charge multiple devices at once, especially gadgets like an iPad or tablet, the Mercury might not be the best option.

With two external batteries plugged in  the Mercury is delivering between 2 and 2.5W of power to each external battery.
With two external batteries plugged in, the Mercury is delivering between 2 and 2.5W of power to each external battery.

Durability


Like most panels, the 10W is made of durable, canvas fabric that protects the solar cells when the panel is collapsed. Its Velcro closures for the panel and accessory pocket kept their strength and didn't get worn out even when sand and dirt inevitably worked their way into the panel.

The sewn loops for carabiner attachment points also held up and were useful for hanging the panel in creative ways. We found the Velcro closure to be more efficient in the long term, unlike the magnetic closure of the Powergreen 21W, which seemed to lose some of its strength over time. The solar cells themselves on the Instapark Mercury are what impressed us. They are incredibly durable and have a ribbed texture that sheds water quickly and keeps dirt away.

A close up of the Mercury 10W shows the durable construction that Instapark used for the Mercury 10W. These cells are water and weather resistant.
A close up of the Mercury 10W shows the durable construction that Instapark used for the Mercury 10W. These cells are water and weather resistant.

Weight & Portability


Regarding weight and portability, the Mercury 10W fell short only because it is larger and heavier than other competitors. Of all the three-panel solar chargers, it is the lightest, but it also lacks the output power of the BigBlue 28W and the PowerGreen 20W. This panel is portable and light enough to take out on most trips and will keep your devices charged, reliably.

For having three panels, the Mercury 10W is no bulkier than the RAVPower 16W, but charges gadgets more efficiently. Though it is a bit heavier and thicker when folded up, it does have the advantage of having a smaller area when collapsed. When folded up, it is smaller than a magazine and has the advantage of fitting in small backpacks.

Folded up  the Mercury 10W is approximately the same size as the Renogy 5W. The Renogy  of course  has a slimmer profile.
Folded up, the Mercury 10W is approximately the same size as the Renogy 5W. The Renogy, of course, has a slimmer profile.

Value


No matter how you slice it, the Mercury 10W is a great value. As a three-panel, high efficiency folding solar charger option, it shines without breaking the bank. It has no extra frills that you don't necessarily pay for, and it charges small electronics effectively. Because Instapark has become a more reputable company in recent years, it does cost more than the panels with smaller wattages, but it also means you will get an effective and reliable product that will last a long time.

The closure method for the Mercury 10W keeps the panels secure and the pocket sealed up.
The closure method for the Mercury 10W keeps the panels secure and the pocket sealed up.

Conclusion


Year after year, this panel holds its own among the latest and greatest in solar technology. If you want a mid-strength panel with plenty of power and the ability to charge multiple devices at once, this is the panel to get.


Jane Jackson