Authenticity of conventional circuit model, to interpret the characteristics of polymer solar cells (PSCs) is examined. Conventional circuit model is found to be quite limited, and various assumptions used there are not valid for PSCs. By understanding the nature of photovoltaic characteristics, through detailed investigations, we developed an improved circuit model, which explains correctly the behavior of PSCs under different environmental conditions. Investigations are carried out on the solar cells, made of the blend of regioregular poly(3-hexylethiophene) (P3HT) and phenyl [6,6] C61 butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM). The model is developed by treating both the dark and illuminated characteristics separately, even the characteristics were dealt with separately in reverse and forward biases. The formulated equivalent circuit model helps us in explaining many other important features, observed in the characteristics of PSCs. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.