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Most of the photovoltaic (PV) system models in the literature have extra internal parameters that are not provided by the manufacturers, viz., Rs, Rp, A, Io, Isat. Such parameters are not given in the PV module datasheet and require numerical methods to be found due to the nonlinear nature of the PV output characteristic. This paper presents an improved and comprehensive PV model characterization method relying only on the values provided by the manufacturer. A new improvement and modification to some of the existing models under standard test condition (STC) and under varying environmental conditions are proposed. The paper serves as a complete guide for PV system designers and researchers to predict PV system performance over a wide range of temperatures and solar irradiance. Simulation and experimental results are provided to demonstrate the validity of the proposed simplified modeling approach, with an array design example for a power smart building.