Lake Eğirdir is located in the Lakes District in southwestern Turkey and it is the second largest freshwater resource lake. Evaporation is an important parameter in hydrological and meteorological practical studies. This study has three objectives: (1) to develop models for the estimation of daily evaporation using measured data from the automated GroWeather meteorological station located near Lake Eğirdir; (2) to compare the evaporation models with the classical Penman approach; (3) to evaluate the potential of each model. The comparisons are based on daily and monthly available data from 2001 and 2002. The evaporation estimation models (EEMs) developed in this paper have lower mean absolute errors and higher coefficient of determination R2 values than the Penman method. In order to evaluate the potential of the EEMs, daily evaporation values are calculated by the Priestley–Taylor, Brutsaert–Stricker, de Bruin, Makkink and Hamon methods. The EEMs are statistically indistinguishable from the classical methods on the basis of the parameters of mean, standard deviation, etc. In the evaluation of daily and monthly values, the relative error percentage for daily evaporation has lower values than for monthly evaporation. It can be seen that the EEMs help in calculating daily evaporation rather than monthly. Final evaluation and comparison indicate that there is a good agreement between the results of EEMs and the Penman approach than with the classical methods. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.