5 Things to Know Before Buying a Safe

Buying your first home safe? It’s tempting to think that any sturdy box with a lock on it will do the trick, but purchasing a safe is actually a pretty complex endeavor. There are numerous types of safes on the market, all ideal for different purposes, and many optional features you can shop around for. There are also special considerations when it comes to installation and access. Here are some important things to know before you buy a safe.

1. Not all Safes Offer you Optimal Security or Quality.

You would think anything labeled a “safe” for sale would be … well, safe. But on the lower end of the price bracket, you will find a lot of cheap safes that are easy to pry open. And even some mid-priced safes are easy enough to break into that children can manage it. You need to look for something sturdier than a thin metal cabinet (11-gauge steel for example), and you need to pick a UL-rated lock. When shopping for a gun safe, look for a Residential Security Container (RSC) rating from UL.

2. Cleverly Concealed Safes are not Always the Best Option.

A cleverly concealed safe hidden in a wall behind a painting or mirror is often the first instinct for a new safe buyer, because it is something we have all seen in the movies. This often is actually really inconvenient for you, though, because it may dissuade you from using it. Worse, if a burglar does find a wall safe, he or she can often break into it quickly. They are not the most secure once they have actually been located. These safes are actually better for hiding possessions from your kids than they are for protecting your items from burglars!

3. Pay Close Attention to the Fire Rating.

If fireproofing is important to you, make sure you purchase a UL-rated safe with a certified fire rating. You are looking for one hour or higher. Keep in mind there is no such thing as a genuinely “fireproof” safe. Safes are fire resistant only. Eventually their interiors will exceed the temperature listed, and your possessions will be destroyed. But an hour is usually long enough for help to arrive.

Remember, if you are storing media or data, you need a higher fire resistance rating than if you are only storing paper! A rating that will keep the internal temperature of the safe below 350 degrees generally will suffice for paper, but it is not what you want for data. For data, you need the temperature to stay below 135 degrees and the humidity to stay under 85%. If you do not want to pay a high price for a huge safe with this rating, consider just buying a small UL-rated fire box for your data and other small valuables. You can then lock that inside a larger safe which protects it from burglars.

Note that this is also a great idea if you plan to use a floor safe. While floor safes are excellent for protection against burglars, they do not offer you much protection in case of a fire.

4. Fireproof is Not Burglar-Proof or Water-Proof.

It is tempting to assume that a safe which is fire resistant is also going to protect your possessions from burglars or flooding, but this is not the case. Often these safes are made of a thin metal which can easily be punctured. They are often not water resistant at all. So if those forms of protection matter to you, make sure you look for a water-proof rating as well. Choose something with a heavier gauge of steel to keep intruders out.

5. Be Picky About the Lock.

There are many kinds of locking mechanisms out there: mechanical dials, electronic keypad locks, biometric scanners, and more. You can even buy multi-lock systems. Each type of lock has its benefits and vulnerabilities, so research carefully and weigh the pros and cons before you make your purchase.

Now you should have a better idea what you need to take under consideration when you are shopping for your safe. Also think about how large a safe you need, what you will put in it, and where you will store it. Make a comprehensive list and then check out our product comparison chart to start shopping!

1 thought on “5 Things to Know Before Buying a Safe

  1. I like your reminder that fireproof does not mean waterproof or burglar-proof. I want my document to be protected from burning up, but I also don’t want them to get ruined by water when the fire is being put out. Would it be a good idea to store document in a waterproof container in the safe for extra protection?

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