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Instapark Mercury 27 Review

This large-capacity panel lacks durability and has an uninspiring design overall
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Price:  $75 List
Pros:  Large capacity, fast charging speeds, large pocket
Cons:  Lacks durability, inconsistent performance, unable to recover charge after shading
Manufacturer:   Instapark
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2020
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49
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 12
  • Charging Speed - 30% 7
  • Charge Interruption Recovery - 20% 4
  • Multiple Device Charging Speed - 20% 7
  • Weight & Portability - 20% 2
  • Durability - 10% 2

Our Verdict

After our three month testing period, we had mixed feelings about the Instapark Mercury 27. This panel shines in some metrics and falls short in others. On the plus side, it charged our devices quickly and efficiently in full sun conditions, and its charging speeds were comparable to other panels in a similar wattage category. It didn't excel at charging multiple devices at once, though, and was a bit finicky when its sunlight was interrupted. We were also disappointed in the overall construction of this panel; it's certainly not the cheapest panel in this review, yet it has a few questionable design features.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

This panel fell short in its ability to recover a charge after an interruption. It also lacked consistency in its charging speeds throughout the testing period. Its size and weight reduced its overall scores in our metrics.

Performance Comparison


The Mercury was a bit of an inconsistent performer in our metric comparisons.
The Mercury was a bit of an inconsistent performer in our metric comparisons.

Charge Interruption Recovery


Here, the Mercury was a bit of a disappointment. You'd think a panel with 27W of charging power would be able to recover a charge after shading, or at least perform decently well in partially shady conditions. During our testing, this panel disconnected from our Pixel 3 and couldn't re-establish a connection after shading. Other panels with built-in regulators can recover more seamlessly after a shading, but the Mercury struggled here.

The flap on the far left kept covering one of the panels  limiting the panel's charging capacity.
The flap on the far left kept covering one of the panels, limiting the panel's charging capacity.

Charging Speed


We had to run this test three times during testing. Initially, when a single device (for consistency's sake, we used the same Pixel 3 for every single panel tested in this review) was plugged into the Mercury 27, it charged at an alarmingly slow speed. After 30 minutes, our Pixel 3 had only charged 4%. This seemed oddly low, so we tried again, under the same conditions, and were surprised to see that the Mercury had charged the same phone 24% the second time. As such, we received inconsistent readings during our testing.

Multiple Device Charging Speed


When we plugged in a phone to one USB port and an external battery to the other, the Mercury charged our phone 10% over 30 minutes. This is better than panels of a similar size, and in turn, the Mercury did fairly well in this metric.

Instapark gives the option to charge via 12-volt  but we found we rarely used this feature.
Instapark gives the option to charge via 12-volt, but we found we rarely used this feature.

Durability


Here, we ran into a few issues with the Mercury 27. This panel has two large Velcro flaps — one that secures the panel when closed and another that covers and secures the storage pocket. These flaps often got in the way, folding backward and sometimes covering the panels. You'll want to take care here to ensure the panels are not covered.

A close-up of the delaminating Velcro on the Mercury's closure flap.
A close-up of the delaminating Velcro on the Mercury's closure flap.

The Velcro that secures these flaps was not incredibly sticky and started to wear out after a few times opening and closing the panel. The sewn clip-in loops on the Mercury weren't our favorite, as they were less durable than the eyelets attachment points on most of the other panels we've reviewed. These design issues, plus the panel's significant inconsistencies, gave the Mercury a lower score in this metric.

These clip loops are not nearly as durable as the reinforced metal ones that most panels have.
These clip loops are not nearly as durable as the reinforced metal ones that most panels have.

Weight and Portability


Length-wise, the Mercury is similar to many panels of comparable wattage. Width-wise, however (when the panel is folded), the Mercury is bulky, especially when there are items in the storage pouch. Having the 12-volt cable attached to the inside of the pouch also limits the portability and versatility of this panel. Since it's not always in use, it would be nice to be able to remove it when needed. If weight is not of concern, the Mercury provides a decent charging speed.

Its storage pocket made it wider and less portable than other panels.
Its storage pocket made it wider and less portable than other panels.

Value


This panel has a relatively high price tag. We are reluctant to recommend this panel, as others have higher quality design and fewer performance issues.

The Instapark in full sun.
The Instapark in full sun.

Conclusion


The Instapark Mercury 27 performed well in some metrics, particularly its charging speed. In the end, our durability concerns and its weight made it fall short in our metric comparisons. That said, it does charge devices quickly and comes with a 12-volt connection.


Jane Jackson