Are your valuables protected? If not, why not? The typical home safe may run you anywhere from $20-$200, but the valuables you have to protect are worth far more. You may think of a home safe as an optional luxury and not as a necessity, but when the rubber hits the road, it can be one of the smartest purchase decisions you ever make.
Below, you can view a comparison chart of top-rated safes. You will be able to find the type of safe you are looking for at a glance and view prices, features, reviews, and more. We recommend though that before you do, you scroll down below the chart to learn more about safes!
The majority of home safes provide protection against fire and theft, and many will also protect your valuables from water damage. Certain types of safes, like gun safes, can also protect your family by keeping weapons away from children and out of the hands of criminals. A high-quality safe will not only protect irreplaceable possessions, documents, and data, but will also provide you with peace of mind.
Not all safes are equal. At the lower end of the price bracket, you will find home safes which are little more than metal boxes with simplistic locks attached. At the upper end, you will find very expensive safes that can run you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and which offer an abundance of extra features. The best safe is not necessarily the most expensive one. The best safe for you is one that fits your specific needs.
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Safe
Before you buy a safe, here are some questions you should ask yourself.
Do I Need a Safe?
The first thing you may be wondering if you have never bought a safe before is, “Why do I need one?” Maybe you have a bank safe deposit box. Wouldn’t that provide you with the top level of protection?
A bank safe deposit box is definitely a good form of protection to have, but it cannot provide you with everything. While you get the advantage of the 24-hour security system installed in the vault, it probably is not fireproof or waterproof. The contents in the box likely are not insured by the FDIC either. If you have a homeowner’s policy which provides you with the right kind of coverage, the contents of your home safe may actually be insured.
The other reason to opt for a home safe is simple. There are some items you may need immediate access to. You may not need to have grandmother’s pearls within reach at all moments, but what about important documents or guns? These are things you want to have on hand.
What Do I Need to Store?
If you determine that you do indeed need a home safe, you should think next about the purpose of your home safe. This depends largely on the types of items you want to store, and what you want to protect them from.
Here are a few items you may want to think about storing in your home safe.
- Birth and death certificates
- Estate-planning documents
- Social security cards
- Wills and living wills and relate documents
- Paperwork for investments, retirement plans, bank accounts, loans, life insurance policies, and more
- Medical and prescription-related documents
- Vehicle titles
- Savings bonds
- Tax returns (for at least seven years)
- Spare keys for vehicles and anything else you think may be a good idea
- Valuable or sentimental jewelry or heirlooms
- Irreplaceable one-of-a-kind items you want to protect
- Cash and coins (it is always a good idea to keep some of your savings in cash form for emergencies)
- Guns or other weapons
- Data (external hard-drives or discs with digital copies of important documents, photographs, and more)
What Types of Safes Are There?
The type of safe you purchase depends largely on two factors. The first is what types of items you want to protect. This will determine the shape and size of the safe as well as some of its important features. The second main factor is what you want to protect the items from. Some safes are designed specifically for fire, others for flooding, others for burglary, and so on. Here are the major types of safes.
Types of Safe by Purpose
This is one of the most common types of safes out there. A fire safe will provide your valuables with some level of fire protection, and may also protect contents from other natural disasters.
Keep in mind that not all fire safes are media safes. Whether you can store media in a safe or not depends on that safe’s UL rating. Learn about UL ratings and other important features for fireproof safes in our fire safe guide.
While you will not usually see a lot of safes marketed specifically as flood safes, water resistance is such an important feature to consider that it may even be your main reason for buying a safe.
Be sure to check any safe you are buying for water resistance. A good rating to look for is “ETL verified waterproof.” You can learn more about water resistance ratings in our fire safe guide as well.
This is a safe which has been designed to offer superior protection for sensitive electronics. Many of these boxes do not offer burglary protection. You can always purchase a small media safe to store inside a larger fire or burglary safe. Learn more about small safes.
This is a type of safe which is specifically designed to keep prying hands out. It may include a more comprehensive locking system than a typical fire or flood safe. There are subsets within this category, including standalone safes, floor safes, and wall safes.
Standalone safes can be placed anywhere, which is convenient, but floor safes offer the advantage of hidden installation. They also do not take up as much space. This goes for wall safes as well. Wall safes unfortunately are usually pretty poor for fire protection, and tend to be quite small. Still, they offer fast and easy access for you, while being inconspicuous and harder for intruders to discover.
We have written in-depth guides on both wall safes and floor safes. Check them out to learn what is important to look for in shopping for either, and to help you decide which would be a better fit for your needs.
This type of safe is specifically designed for business use, and can help you to store important documents and more. You can use a commercial drop safe for cash which does not require a combination to deposit. This is handy if you have employees using the safe for cash who should not have the combination. You can also tie this type of safe to an alarm system. Learn more about depository safes and drop boxes in our detailed guide.
Need a small safe which you can stow in a drawer to store a handgun, cash, or other small valuables? There are safes specifically built for that purpose, intuitively called “drawer safes.” Drawer safes offer excellent portability and versatility, and may be mounted if desired for added security. Learn more in our drawer safe guide.
If you own guns, a gun safe is an absolute must. A gun safe keeps your guns in your hands and away from criminals. If you have children, a safe for your weapons is a necessary safety precaution for your whole family.
One great thing about a gun safe is that many now function as all-in-one safes for protecting documents, data, and more. They are available with different fire-resistance ratings and security features. This makes them some of the best all-around products in the industry, which can provide you with an excellent value.
Gun safes are available in a range of configurations, just like general-purpose home safes. As just mentioned, fireproof gun safes are popular products. There are also gun safes you can buy which can be mounted in your wall. Want to keep your gun handy in your bedroom? Consider a bedside or under-the-bed gun safe. You can even purchase a gun safe for your vehicle.
There are a variety of locking mechanisms which may be used for gun safes, but biometric locks offer excellent convenience, security and ease-of-use.
Clicking on any of the links above will take you to detailed guides on the relevant gun safe configurations. Read through them to learn about important features and considerations while shopping.
In terms of pricing, gun safes can range considerably. We have put together guides to help you identify the best gun safes under $1,000 and under $500. You can also read our guide for best gun safes for the money overall.
Types of Safe by Lock
This is a type of safe which you can secure through a manual combination lock. No power source is required. Turning a dial is all you need to do to access your valuables. Learn more in our guide to combination safes.
Don’t like turning a dial to try and open your safe? Mechanical locks have their advantages, but many people find them finicky. If that describes you, you may prefer a digital safe with an electronic lock. With this type of lock, you push buttons to input the code to open your safe. Discover more in our digital safe guide.
If you want a safe which opens only for you and for other users you have authorized, it is hard to beat biometric technology. In this category, most home safes scan fingerprints which you have stored. These safes are an excellent choice for top-notch security as well as fast, easy access when you need it. Read our biometric safe guide.
Where will I put my safe?
Storing a safe in a hidden location can have advantages, but if you will regularly need to access the contents, storing the safe somewhere out of the way may tempt you not to use it. Your goal is to keep the safe convenient for you and inconvenient for burglars or children. Anchoring is a great idea, because this keeps your safe protected from burglars who discover it. Most safes include anchor holes that you can use for this purpose.
What dimensions do I need?
It is usually wise to choose a safe that offers you a little bit more room than you think you will need. Do not just think in terms of cubic feet either. Also think in terms of height, width, and depth. Some safes include shelves as well, or allow you the option of adding or subtracting shelves.
What is my budget?
At the bottom of the price range, you will find very basic cash boxes for under $15. You can even find small gun vaults for under $25. At the upper end of the price range, you will find large rifle gun safes which allow you to store dozens of guns for more than $1,500. If you only need a really small, basic safe for a handgun or a few documents or some cash, you may very well get away with spending $25 or less. For most standard fire and gun safes, you can expect to spend $100-$300.
Options and Features
When you are purchasing a safe, here are some of the options and features you should look at:
Fire Resistance and Media Protection
Protection from fire is a top consideration for the vast majority of buyers. In fact, according to Greg Bonsib, the director of brand management at SentrySafe, it is the number one concern. While safes are sometimes described as being “fireproof,” this is a somewhat misleading term.
No safe is truly fireproof. Safes should always be described as fire resistant. After a certain length of time and exposure, any fire safe can be compromised and its contents destroyed. When shopping for a fire safe, you will typically see a UL rating as well as detailed information on temperatures, humidity levels, and length of time that a safe can be exposed before the internal levels rise too high.
The majority of fire resistant safes are specifically designed to protect paper, not media, which is a very important distinction to be aware of. If you are not planning on storing media, a standard fire safe which keeps the internal temperature less than 350 degrees Fahrenheit should be fine (paper starts to char around this temperature, well before you reach 451 degrees).
But if you do need to protect media, you should be aware that temperatures between 120 and 180 degrees are already high enough to create humidity that will corrupt or destroy data. To store data, look specifically for a media/data safe, or any safe that will keep the internal temperature below 135 degrees and humidity below 85%.
Some fire and burglary safes also offer water resistance. As with fire protection, this is not the same as saying the safe is waterproof. If you live in an area which is prone to flooding, it can be an important and very helpful feature.
Burglary Protection Features
Burglary and gun safes typically offer the best protection against prying eyes and fingers. Just having a safe actually provides you with some protection, particularly if the safe is attached to your wall or floor, bolted down in some way, or heavy and unwieldy. Most burglars will just grab something unsecured and run, especially if they were not expecting to encounter a safe.
If you need additional protection, pay close attention to the locking mechanism. The highest-quality locks have a UL rating and have been tested. Mechanical and electronic locks have their pros and cons; you will also see “redundant locks,” which combine features of both.
Electronic locks sometimes resist EMPs and sometimes do not. Some locks also include identity scanning features. Many gun safes allow you to store fingerprints. These safes are designed to open for you and only you—and anyone else you decide to give access. Most come with a backup locking system in case the fingerprint system fails.
Conversely, while you want your safe to be hard for intruders to access, you do not want to be struggling to open your safe when you are in a rush. If a burglar is down the hall and you need your gun, the last thing you need is to be fighting with a fussy lock or a jammed door.
Along with intuitive, reliable locking mechanisms, safes which are designed to facilitate fast access often are equipped with spring-loaded doors which can readily pop open after you enter in your combination or scan your fingerprint.
Customizable Layout, Lining, and Other Interior Features
When you are shopping for a safe, you probably will be paying a lot of attention to external features: the build and materials, mounting options, the locking mechanism, and so forth. But you should not neglect the features inside the safe.
Some safes include soft lining. This is ideal if you are going to be storing valuables which could easily be scratched (i.e. jewelry). Many safes also include shelving systems. These may be either set in place, or they may be removable and reconfigurable. The latter is an excellent feature if you think you may regularly change the contents of your safe.
Choosing the best safe for your home is a slightly more involved process than you may have initially imagined, but with the help of our comparison chart and reviews, you can narrow down your search. Be sure to read in-depth about product features, and also check out reviews from real-life customers who have experience with the models you are looking into buying. These reviews can provide you with the insight you need to make the best choice for your home and your family.