The abundance and non-polluting nature of solar energy has aroused the interest of many researchers. This worldwide attention of photovoltaic panels has led to the need of generating accurate model of photovoltaic module before proceeding to the installation part. However, the modeling of solar PV characteristics is difficult since the manufacturer's datasheet provides only four values such as Vmp, Imp, Voc, and I sc. For the accurate modeling of photovoltaic panels, the precise estimation of model parameters at different environmental conditions is very essential. Optimization technique is a very powerful tool to obtain the solution of complex non-linear problems. In this paper, the application of the bacterial foraging algorithm (BFA) for the accurate extraction of model parameters has been discussed. A systematic evaluation and performance comparison of BFA with other optimization techniques such as Genetic Algorithm, Artificial Immune System etc. has been done and the best computational technique is determined based on certain criteria such as accuracy, consistency, speed of convergence etc. The computed data is compared with experimental data and the results are validated using two photovoltaic modules of different nature (multicrystalline and thin film). © 2013 IEEE.