A photovoltaic power supply with a simple structure and high tracking efficiency is needed in self-powered, wireless sensor networks. First, a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm, including the load current maximization-perturbation and observation (LCM-P&O) methods, with a fixed step size, is proposed by integrating the traditional load current maximization (LCM) method and perturbation and observation (P&O) method. By sampling the changes of load current and photovoltaic cell input current once the disturbance is applied, the pulse width modulation (PWM) regulation mode, i.e., increasing or reducing, can be determined in the next process. Then, the above algorithm is improved by using the variable step size strategy. By comparing the difference between the absolute value of the observed current value and the theoretical current value at the maximum power point of the photovoltaic cell with the set threshold value, the variable step size for perturbation is determined. MATLAB simulation results show that the LCM-P&O method, with a variable step size, has faster convergence speed and higher tracking accuracy. Finally, the two MPPT algorithms are tested and analyzed under constant voltage source input and indoor fluorescent lamp illumination through an actual circuit, respectively. The experimental results show that the LCM-P&O method with variable step size has a higher tracking efficiency, about 90%–92%, and has higher stability and lower power consumption.
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