When you start shopping for a safe, you will notice one thing pretty quickly, and that is that you have choices—a lot of choices. In fact, it can get pretty complicated trying to wade through all the different types of safes to find what you need. There are a couple ways you can break the categories down:
- By protection type or purpose
- By installation location
Let’s start by talking about types of protection, and then talk about different types of safe according to installation.
Protection and Purpose
There are a number of different types of safes in this category:
This is the main reason most home safe buyers are shopping for a safe. UL-rated fire resistance safes can protect documents, cash, data, and other valuables from fire damage for a certain length of time, often up to an hour (long enough for help to arrive). They are often made of thin metal, however, and are not ideal for other forms of protection.
This type of safe will protect the contents from water damage in case of an event like flooding. Many, but not all, fire safes are also water-resistant.
The primary purpose of this type of safe is to keep prying eyes and hands out. These are great not only for protecting valuables from intruders, but from children as well. These types of safes usually can be bolted directly to a surface or otherwise anchored. Do not assume that they are all fire-resistant or flood-resistant!
These safes usually feature heavy-duty security, just like burglary safes, but they are built specifically to accommodate rifles or handguns, or both. They may include special features like a door which will pop open fast so you can get access quickly in an emergency. Many gun safes are rated for fire and water protection and can function as all-in-one security solutions. A gun safe is a must-have if you own firearms, especially if you have children.
These are safes built for business use. A drop box or deposit box is a great example, ideal for storing cash and sensitive documents. There are many different sub-types and configurations.
Location and Installation
Additionally, types of safes can be broken down according to where and how they are installed:
These typically use a key, combination dial, or an electronic keypad (sometimes a combination). You can place them anywhere in your home, but they tend to be bulky.
These can be installed in a concrete floor. They are concealed, and generally quite secure as burglary safes, but are usually not too great for fire-proofing.
These are excellent for concealment, and can offer you quick access at the same time if you are smart about how you hide them. They do not have much to offer in the way of fire protection though, and they usually are quite small. They can also be easy to break into once they are located.
When you are trying to decide on a type of safe to buy, you should take into account not only the primary and secondary purposes of your safe, but also what you need to store in it, how large you need it to be, and where you are hoping to install it in your house.
You also can combine some of these solutions if you need to. If you only really need a safe for one purpose or another, a fire safe or a burglary safe without extra bells and whistles may help you to save money and accomplish your purpose. But you also can consider a high-quality gun safe to take care of all of your security needs. Another solution if you need to protect a few small items from fire and the rest from burglary would be to purchase a small UL-rated fire box to store inside a larger burglary-resistant safe.
We recommend you make a thorough list before you go shopping, one which will remind you of all the features you are looking for. Then turn to our product comparison chart to find out which safes we recommend in all categories.