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.
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.
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!
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.
Why Do You 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 Can You Store in a Safe?
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)
Types of Safes
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:
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.
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.
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. Why do you need one? More on that in a bit.
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.
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.
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.
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 U.L. 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.
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Safe
Before you buy a safe, here are some questions you should always ask yourself:
Why do I need a safe?
Figure out what you plan to keep in your safe, and what conditions you are most concerned about. If you want to store data, a standard fire safe or burglary safe may not provide you the protection you need. If you need to store guns, you probably want a safe designed for that purpose, and so on.
Where will I put it?
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.
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.
What Do Our Comprehensive Home Safe Reviews Say?
SentrySafe SFW123DSB Combination Fire-Safe
This combination fire safe is UL-rated to offer you up to an hour of fire protection at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. It also provides you with flood protection in up to 8 inches of water for up to 24 hours. If you want to use it to store data, you can protect your USB drives, DVDs, and other multimedia and electronics for up to an hour. Sturdy design with 1-inch bolts makes this a sturdy safe that will also stand up to burglars. If you prefer an electronic lock, you can purchase the same product with the electronic lock as an option. Other features include a shelf you can position as needed, a door tray, a door pocket, and a key rack.
Paragon 7750 Electronic Wall Lock and Safe
This is a large wall safe which is designed to offer you plenty of space for your handguns, jewelry, and other valuables, while also being easy to conceal. It is flat enough that you can hide it behind a picture or a mirror. You can open it using either a code or a key. Solid steel construction gives you a sturdy build, and the pre-drilled holes make it easy to install the safe between your studs yourself. The safe comes backed by a 10-year warranty direct from the manufacturer, which is excellent. With your purchase, you receive two free keys.
SentrySafe 7250 Waterproof Floor Safe
If you are searching for a sturdy and highly rated waterproof floor safe, the SentrySafe 7250 is a great one to consider. The safe is made out of sturdy 12-gauge steel and includes double locking bolts. You can install it in either wood or concrete quickly and easily. The water-resistant design will protect the safe even if it is submerged in flooding. Additional security features include a heavy die cast aluminum door and a steel cover lid for added protection. The product comes backed by a 1-year limited warranty.
Barska Biometric Safe
If you are looking for a safe which is sturdy and well designed but easy to open when you’re in a hurry, the Barska biometric safe is an excellent choice. It features a compact design but plenty of space for documents, handguns, jewelry, and other valuables. The biometric lock allows you to open it just by swiping your finger across the pad. You can store up to 30 different fingerprint profiles. If you need to get into your safe through other means, you get two emergency backup keys. Pre-drilled anchor holes allow you to quickly and easily bolt down the safe and secure it in your home. Your purchase also includes four AA batteries that can power your safe’s lock for up to two years.
SentrySafe X055 Security Safe
This small safe includes a number of size options ranging from 0.4 cubic feet to 1.2 cubic feet. Features include two live-locking bolts and solid, durable construction, and an electronic lock. An override key is included in case you need an alternate method to access your safe. This is the perfect choice for a small, concealable safeguard for your valuable possessions. One special feature is a carpeted floor to protect fragile jewelry from scratching and damage.
Stack-On PDS0500 Drawer Safe with Electronic Lock
This tactical gun safe is an excellent choice for your pistols and ammunition. It is also perfect for storing jewelry, cash, documents, and other small valuables. The solid steel construction and pry-resistant doors keep your possessions safe from home invaders, and the electronic safe includes a time-out feature. If you need to get in fast, there is a “safety key” override feature. Pre-drilled holes make it easy to mount to a shelf or the floor. The safe can beep when the numbers are pressed, or you can turn that feature off for silent operation.