The use of modular or ‘micro’ maximum power point tracking (MPPT) converters at module level in series association, commercially known as “power optimizers”, allows the individual adaptation of each panel to the load, solving part of the problems related to partial shadows and different tilt and/or orientation angles of the photovoltaic (PV) modules. This is particularly relevant in building integrated PV systems. This paper presents useful behavioural analytical studies of cascade MPPT converters and evaluation test results of a prototype developed under a Spanish national research project. On the one hand, this work focuses on the development of new useful expressions which can be used to identify the behaviour of individual MPPT converters applied to each module and connected in series, in a typical grid-connected PV system. On the other hand, a novel characterization method of MPPT converters is developed, and experimental results of the prototype are obtained: when individual partial shading is applied, and they are connected in a typical grid connected PV array. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.