The performance reliability of a stand-alone photovoltaic system (SAPV) depends on the long-term performance of the batteries. In this way, a charge controller becomes an essential device which not only prevents the batteries from suffering deep discharges and overvoltages but also monitors the battery state of charge (SOC) in order to maximize charging efficiency and energy availability. At present, pulse width modulated (PWM) charge regulators dominate the market for this type of component in SAPV systems. However, in recent years, to improve energy management, more manufacturers have developed controllers with strategies for maximum power point tracking (MPPT). PWM charge controllers do not always make optimum use of the available power given by the maximum power point and this gives a loss of power. These power losses depend on battery voltage, irradiance and temperature. However, they can be avoided by using a MPPT charge controller which operates the array at its maximum power point under a range of operating conditions, as well as regulating battery charging. The advantage, in terms of energy gain, provided by this type of charge regulator depends on weather conditions. This paper will study the power gain provided by this type of charge controller, depending on the module temperature and the battery voltage. The paper will, additionally, provide a study of the gain in energy yield, also shown as improvement factor, F, for SAPV systems installed in Jaén (South of Spain). This study may illustrate the behavior of these two types of charge controllers in warm weathers, like Mediterranean climates. Furthermore, it will analyze the suitability of MPPT charge controllers and their benefits in this type of climate. It will be shown that MPPT charge regulator global efficiency constitutes a key issue in making a choice between MPPT and PWM charge regulators. The results given here may be not only of interest for SAPV systems with no access to the electricity grid but also for battery back-up PV grid-connected PV (GCPV) systems.

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