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.
Instapark Mercury 10W Review
Cons: Low capacity, bulky, heavy
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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.
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 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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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