Share useful tips on home improvement.

The Most Important Things to Consider While Buying a Home Safe

Things to Consider While Buying a Home Safe
A home safe is a long-term investment that must be purchased with great care. The sturdiness of the safe and the materials used in manufacturing it can determine the effectiveness of the unit. Here are some essential tips for buying a safe that suits your needs.
Rohini Mohan
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Did You Know?
A safe must always be anchored using concrete bolts in order to prevent the entire unit from being stolen from the house.
Albeit safer, not all valuables can be stashed away in the bank. A home safe is ideal for those who wish to safeguard certain precious items in the house itself so that they can have access to them as often as needed. Buying a home safe is, indeed, a necessity for some families, and therefore, it becomes essential that a good quality and sturdy safe is purchased. The market is saturated with safes that look strong and attractive from the exterior, but are in fact made of substandard material or are equipped with ineffective mechanisms that make them extremely easy to pry open. Bear in mind that home safes are expensive, and thus, must be purchased after taking some basic factors into consideration. Following are some tips to buy a home safe.
Type and Usage
Confidential files in safe
Before looking at just about any safe, think about what you intend to use it for. What do you plan on storing in it? This is a relevant factor to consider, if you are looking for something specific, such as a safe intended for storing only jewelry or documents. There are several types of safes available in the market, which include some that are burglary-protected, fireproof, waterproof, and meant for home as well as office use.
For example, there are deposit safes that come with several compartments and individual locks or access codes that are meant for office and bank use. Safes that are meant for storing licensed rifles, guns, and ammunition are also sold by some manufacturers. If you intend to store an assortment of items in the unit, then go in for a safe that offers plenty of storage space, basic protection against theft, fire, and water.
Size and Dimensions
One of the first things you must look for is a safe that is suitably sized for your intended use. The size of the safe will depend on the size and quantity of the valuables you wish to store; therefore, always go in for a safe that has adequate storage capacity. Many retailers do not inform customers about the usable space available in their safes; therefore, insist that you be informed about the internal capacity of the safes being shown to you.
Safe suitable for home
The average home safe has a capacity of 1.3 - 3.00 cubic space feet, and must have internal dimensions of 14" in height and width, with 12" depth. Similarly, the external dimensions of such a safe should measure up to 15" in height and width, with 17"+ depth. Carry out adequate research on the size specification you're aiming for, through online research or by visiting local stores.
Thickness of Safe Door and Walls
Metal safe
It is imperative that you look for safes that have a steel body and come with a substantially thick steel door. The minimum requisite as per Class B rating is that the safe door consist of 0.50 - 1.50" thick steel and the rest of the five solid steel walls be at least 0.25" thick. Some safes are made with substandard material so as to minimize manufacturing cost and reduce the weight of the unit to save on shipping expenses.
The quality, thickness, and break-in time (time taken to break into a safe by a safecracker) increases with every rating; thus, depending on your needs, the ratings that offer high security standards for home safes are:
  • Residential Security Container (RSC)
  • Class B Rating - 1/2" solid steel door and 1/4" steel body
  • Class C Rating - 1" solid steel door and 1/2" steel body
  • Class E (TL-15) Rating - 1.5" solid steel door and 1" body
  • Class F (TL-30) Rating

Some foreign and local manufactures may try to pass off inferior quality safes at lowered rates, by claiming that their units are made of robust steel. However, many of these safes have doors that are made of drywall panels that have been wrapped and sealed with flimsy sheet metal. On the exterior, such safes look attractive, sturdy, and well-designed, but actually put your valuables at a greater risk of being stolen or damaged by fire or water. Be wary of such marketing gimmicks by relying on the products of time-tested safe manufacturers.
Consider the Weight of the Safe
The real solid steel plating used in a safe can tell a lot about its sturdiness and base ability to withstand fire and burglary. The more steel is used, the heavier the safe will be. However, there are several substandard quality non- /low-steel safes that are heavy as well because of the composite material used in it. Thus, you being the prospective buyer must inquire about the quantity of solid steel used in the safes being shown to you by the retailer. The sturdiness of a safe will increase manifold if its door and walls are made of robust steel. As compared to sheet metal insulated drywall panels, solid steel would prove to be far heavier and difficult to steal or break into with a mere crowbar. On the other hand, safes with concrete amalgamate and protective steel plating are the heaviest, expensive, and the most resistant to damage and fire. Nonetheless, do not assume the safe will be fireproof unless specified on the unit.

The weight also comes into the picture if you plan on getting the safe installed on ground floor, in which case the weight of the safe should not exceed 1000 lbs. Similarly, some safes need to fit in the wall, and thus, must be of suitable weight. You will need to seek the advice of a trustworthy safe installer to help assess the weight and placement of the safe.
Is the Safe Fireproof?
Fireproof safes are usually freestanding. UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rated composite clad and fireboard-based fire safes are equipped to protect the contents of the safe for a limited amount of time. Some UL rated classes and the internal temperature sustained by these fire safes are:
  • Class 125 safes - 125°F and 80% humidity
  • Class 150 safes - 150°F and 85% humidity
  • Class 350 safes - 350°F and 85% humidity
Fire safes that have a composite clad solid steel core are more effective against theft as compared to fire-board safes that use sheet metal or other materials. Secondly, do not be fooled by the ratings of the insulation material used in a safe, as these ratings do not indicate the flash/ignition point of the safe. Class ratings are different from hour ratings; therefore, UL rating that guarantees 2-hour fire protection does not directly imply that the contents of the safe will not reach flash point in 2 hours. In fact, this UL rating refers to the time it will take for the fire-board panels inside the safe to burn out and does not automatically imply that the entire safe is UL rated. Some UL hour ratings and the external temperature sustained by these safes during impact tests are:
  • 4 hours - 2000°F
  • 3 hours - 1920°F
  • 2 hours - 1850°F
  • 1 hour - 1700°F
  • 45 minutes - 1640°F
  • 30 minutes - 1550°F
  • 20 minutes - 1460°F

Therefore, go in for a safe that is UL rated for both class and hour. Similarly, you may consider going in for a safe that offers protection from theft and is both fireproof and waterproof.
Locking System
Safe with dialing lock
UL certified locks are the most reliable ones available in the market. Make sure that you go in for a safe that has a lock with Group 2 or greater grade. Safe locks manufactured by Sargent & Greenleaf, LaGard and Kaba Mas are truly dependable and assure formidable defense against any attempted theft.
Other than UL approved safe locks with bio-metric protective systems, dial locks with integrated re-lock triggers are the next best option, as these are comparatively more reliable than any other type of locking system. If you decide to go in for a safe with an electronic lock, you must know that these locks come with standard 9V batteries that must be replaced whenever needed. Secondly, you will need to decide a code that can be easily remembered by you. The lock goes into lockout more for 5 - 10 minutes after three incorrect entries.
Finally, consider the location where you plan on placing the safe. Ensure that the safe is kept in an accessible area of the house so that you use it regularly. Secondly, remember to place a dehumidifier inside the safe so that its inside contents do not get damaged.