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A number of energy balance models of variable complexity that use remotely sensed boundary conditions for producing spatially distributed maps of surface fluxes have been proposed. Validation typically involves comparing model output to flux tower observations at a handful of sites, and hence there is no way of evaluating the reliability of model output for the remaining pixels comprising a scene. To assess the uncertainty in flux estimation over a remote sensing scene requires one to conduct pixel-by-pixel comparisons of the output. The objective of this paper is to assess whether the simplifications made in a simple model lead to erroneous predictions or deviations from a more complex model and under which circumstances these deviations most likely occur. Two models, the S-SEBI and TSEB algorithms, which have potential for operationally monitoring ET with satellite data are described and a spatial inter-comparison is made. Comparisons of the spatially distributed flux maps from the two models are made using remotely sensed imagery collected over an agricultural test site in Northern Germany. With respect to model output for radiative and conductive fluxes no major differences are noted. Results for turbulent flux exchange demonstrate that under relatively dry conditions and over tall crops model output differs significantly. The overall conclusion is that under unstressed conditions and over homogeneous landcover a simple index model is adequate for determining the spatially distributed energy budget.