Do I really need a lens for my tape?
Yes and no. Depending on the location and install type, having a lens to protect your LED tape may not be that important. Having a lens though, wether clear or frosted, does provide several benefits. One, the lens protects the tape from dust and debris, two helps diffuse the light and three provides a nice clean finish to your install.
Why would I ever choose a clear lens?
The clear lens comes in very handy when your tape is in a location where the LED Diode's will not be seen, especially on a reflective surface. This way you can still protect your tape and not sacrifice any light output or color shirt.
Sacrifice light output or color shift, what?
Sorry, keep in mind that a diffused or frosted lens may reduce the light out put somewhat and may also alter your tapes color temperature. Almost every manufacture will let you know what percentage of light output reduction and color change you may have. This is important if you are trying to match the tape alongside another light and want to try and match them as best as you can.
Oh great, another thing to worry about.
Its not that bad and the changes are very minimal but it is something to keep in mind.
Well I have used frosted covers before on a job for some under cabinet lighting and I still saw the reflection of the LED Diode's on the counter top. Why is that?
That is possible depending on the channel the tape is in and also the type of frosted lens you are using. If the channel is very slim and the lens is close to the tape, then there is a good chance that the light will not get diffused enough. Now companies are making taller diffused lenses and deeper channels to achieve better diffusion.
Ok that makes sense, but what if I don't want to use channel because the space doesn't allow for it?
That's fine too. Many of the better manufactures make what is called a tape guard. These products simply snap over the tape itself and have self adhesive tape to keep them attached. Keep in mind, these covers do not work with all the tapes so you will need to check the specifications before you assume they will work.