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Instapark Mercury 10W Review

For an inexpensive 10W panel, the Mercury 10W charges devices reliably and effectively, making it our pick for Best Buy.
Instapark Mercury 10
Best Buy Award
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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 17
  • 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, the Mercury 10 continued 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 Mercury 10W is a reasonable mid-range option, for cost and efficiency. Even in the mid-power category, the Mercury 10W impressed; it is more durable and efficient than the Renogy 10W. In the end, the Mercury 10W is still the Best Bang for your Buck.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Instapark Mercury 10
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $60 List$59.99 at Amazon$33.99 at Amazon$115 List$159.95 at Amazon
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Pros Light, inexpensive, simple, can charge two devices at onceInexpensive, efficient, user-friendly, excels in partly cloudy conditionsRelatively lightweight for panel type, inexpensive, charges devices efficientlyPowerful, works well in partial sun, cheaper than other laptop compatible optionsEfficient for its size, durable, rigid design makes it easy to prop up, designed and built in the US
Cons Low capacity, bulky, heavyBulky, heaviest weightIneffective if relying only on solar for power, less durable than other battery packsBulky, heavy, hard to set up, complicated adapters for laptop chargeExpensive, large, hard to transport, lacks storage pocket
Bottom Line For an inexpensive 10W panel, the Mercury 10W charges devices reliably and effectively, making it our pick for Best Buy.We were impressed by the BigBlue's ability to charge our gadgets quickly and reliably; its reasonable price is the cherry on top.An efficient, compact battery pack with a 2W solar charger on it; out of the panels of this style, the Renogy is a top performer.The X-Dragon 40W is the largest panel we tested and works relatively well for charging a laptop, though it is cumbersome and heavy.For a rigid, efficient panel that is well-made and reliable, look no further than the 14W from Suntactics.
Rating Categories Instapark Mercury 10W BigBlue 28W Renogy 15,000mAh X-Dragon 40W Suntactics S-Charger 14
Charging Speed (30%)
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Specs Instapark Mercury... BigBlue 28W Renogy 15,000mAh X-Dragon 40W Suntactics...
Panel Size (watts) 10W 28W 2W 40W 14W
Weight (measured) 18 oz 23.5 oz 9.5 oz 37 oz 20.5 oz
# of USB outlets 2 2 2 1 2
Max USB Output Current (amps per port) 2 amp 2 amp 2 amps 2.8 amps 2 amp
Battery kit? Yes No Yes No No
Size folded (inches) 9" x 6" x 2" 11.1" x 6.3" x 1.3" 6.3" x 3.1" 0.7" 10.43" x 6.3" x 2.76" 11.6" x 7.25" x 0.25"
Battery? No No Yes No No
Charge tablet? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Charge laptop? No No Npo Yes No
Panel Type Mono-crystalline PET Polymer Mono-crystalline PET-Polymer Mono-crystalline
Size opened (inches) 9" x 22" x 0.5" 33.1" x 11.1" x 0.2" 6.3" x 3.1" 0.7" 35.2" x 18.1" x 0.04" 11.6" x 14.5" x 0.125"
Battery input (Volts / Amps) n/a n/a 5V 2A n/a n/a
Charge capacity (mAh) n/a n/a 15,000mAh n/a 2800mAh
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 Yes No
Warranty 1 year 2 years 1 year 2 year 5 years

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. These factors, along with its reasonable price tag, make it our Best Buy Award winner for the second year in a row.

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, the panel charged our battery to 2%. Nothing too impressive here, but later in the trial, the Mercury 10W was able to charge to 3% even after being shaded and unshaded. That's saying something! No other mid-range panel was able to increase the charge by a percentage after we began covering the solar cells. The other highlight of this test was the Mercury 10W's ability to still deliver a sustainable charge 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 Anker Powerport 21, Anker Powerport Lite, X-Dragon 20, and Goal Zero Nomad 7 all earned 8 out of 10s for this metric - the highest score in the fleet.

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.


Compared to the RAV Power 16W and the Renogy 10W, the Mercury held its own. After 3 hours of charge time with the external battery, the Mercury 10W had charged it up to 50%. This shows how efficient the Mercury 10W is for its size. Similarly, it took 30 minutes for the Mercury 10W to charge an iPhone 27%. In comparison, the Anker 21W (with 10W more power) charged the same phone to 33% in the same amount of time. The Mercury out-performed the RAVPower16W in this metric, as the RAVPower only charged our phone 21% in the same amount of time.

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 10W might not be the best option. Larger wattage panels do better at this task in general, so the BigBlue 28W or the Powergreen 20W panel would be good options for panels that can handle that kind of power-draining task.

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 Mercury 10W is made of durable, canvas fabric protecting 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 the Suntactics 14W and the Renogy 10W. 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 a blue-collar worker, though. Its 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, the InstaparkMercury 10W does have the advantage of having a smaller area when collapsed. When folded up, it is almost the same size as the Renogy E.Flex5 (smaller than a magazine, remember!). So this does give the Mercury 10W the advantage of fitting in small backpacks or even sneaking in a duffle bag with less of an overall footprint.

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.

Best Application


This panel is ideal for charging phones and small devices. It is inexpensive, works well, and will last a long time. The Mercury 10W is a great panel for traveling, whether as a small group or for a solo traveler. Its capacity makes it versatile-since it can charge multiple devices and charge efficiently it works well for groups, but it is not overkill for a single person to use for simple charging needs. We highly recommend combining this panel with a small external battery pack so that you can charge the battery and a device at once. We used an inexpensive 6,000 mAh external battery pack that worked great with these small panels.

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 want to pay for and gets the job done charging small electronics effectively. Because Instapark has become a more reputable company in recent years, the Mercury 10W 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. These attributes earn the Mercury 10W our Best Buy Award.

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. No other panel came close to having the kind of scores in our metrics and a reasonable price tag, giving the Instapark Mercury the Best Buy award for the second year in a row.


Jane Jackson