Your stuff is important. You need a way to protect your valuable possessions and documents against whatever hazards threaten them. At HomeSafeGuide.com, you can find all the information you need to learn how to keep your stuff secure. In a country where there are 3.7 million household burglaries a year, protecting your possessions is important. (Statistics) Losing your family heirlooms, important documents, or jewelry is not ok, and it’s not necessary. If you need to keep your stuff safe in your house, a home safe is a good starting point. If you’re traveling, here are some car diversion safe ideas.
Choosing the Best Home Safe
So you’ve decided that you need a safe in your home to protect your valuables. What are some of the factors you need to consider as you choose one?
First, you need to decide what sort of a safe you want. The two main dangers that a safe will protect against are burglars and fires. What is it that you are most afraid of? You need to have some idea what it is that you’re trying to protect yourself from.
If you’re trying to protect your sentimental family heirlooms and memories, fire is probably the biggest danger. If you’re trying to protect your valuable jewelry or business documents, then burglars might be a greater threat. You can either try security through obscurity and get a diversion safe, or get a real one that can protect through strength. Check out this post for some creative ways to hide your valuables.
Each threat calls for a different approach and affects what kind of safe you’re looking for.
Home Safe Comparison Chart
With so many options available, choosing which safe to buy can be overwhelming. Obviously, which model you select depends on what type you’re looking for. You’ll make a different choice if your goal is to protect your pistol from children versus protecting business files from a fire.
Regardless of what you’re looking for, this comparison chart can help. The chart compares several good models from some different categories to act as a starting point for your research.
|Model||Cu. Ft.||Fire Rating||Access||Ext. Size||Weight||Price||Rating||Notes|
First Alert 2096DF
|2.14||1 hr. at 1700°F||Numeric Pad|
|145 Lb||$$$$||A||Also available in 0.94 and 1.31 Cu. Ft.
Req. 4 AA batteries
|1.23||1 hr. at 1700°F||Mechanical Combination Lock (pre-set, non-changeable combination)|
Key Also Required for Access
|90 Lb||$$$$||A-||May be dead bolted down
Water Resistance: 24 Hrs in 8"
Sky Enterprises Electronic Home Safe
|0.3||None||Programmable Numeric Keypad (Up to 8 digits)|
|15 Lb||$||B||Includes Anchor Bolts
Req. 4 AA batteries
BARSKA Top Opening Biometric Fingerprint Safe
|0.23||None||Fingerprint (30 print memory)|
2 Override Keys (Allen wrench required)
|21 Lb||$$$||A||Req. 4 AA batteries
Can fit in desk drawer
Gunvault SpeedVault SV500
|0.06||None||4 Digit Keypad|
(Locks after 20 failed attempts
Biometric Model Available
|7 Lb||$$$||A||Req. 1 9V battery|
Sentry Safe HD4100SG
|0.65||0.5 hr. at 1700°F||Key Lock||13.5" L|
Comparison Chart Explanation
Here are some notes on what exactly this chart is telling you.
The first column of product titles and images are all Amazon.com links. You certainly don’t need to buy a safe on Amazon, but with their huge selection and generally good prices, they are a great starting point. They also have by far the most helpful reviews from actual owners, so be sure to read those before buying.
The second column is the interior size of each safe given in cubic feet. When the product listing doesn’t provide this, I’ve calculated it from the interior dimensions.
Next is the fire rating. See the section below on fireproof home safes for more information, but basically it’s a rating of how long the temperature inside can stay at a certain point during a fire. These ratings are provided by the UL.
Of course, you need to be able to get at your stuff inside, without letting others in. Access describes, as succinctly as possible, the type of access mechanism on each model, such as combination lock, biometric (fingerprint) lock, or key.
Exterior size is given in inches. Keep in mind that the interior size will be different, and that different materials are different thicknesses.
Weight describes in pounds how much each unit weighs. A heavier weight can help deter burglars, but can limit where you can install the unit. Keep in mind how much effort it will take to get it to where you want it or if you’ll need extra help, as well as the weight capacity of whatever you’re putting it on.
The price column gives a general price range you might expect to pay for a given model. The number of dollar signs illustrates the general price range the product falls within. Real world prices will likely vary due to sales, supply and demand, etc. Remember, in general, you get what you pay for.
- $ = Under $50 – Likely to either be smaller, or much lighter material
- $$ = $50 to $100 – Mid-range. Either more spacious, or slightly heavier metal.
- $$$ = $100 to $200 – Good variety available here.
- $$$$ = $200 to $350 – Probably the average price. Many options available.
- $$$$$ = $350 and over – Solid, high quality models
The rating column is intended to provide an idea of the overall quality and value of each model. Ratings are my subjective opinion based on features, quality, and others’ reviews. The scale is from A+ down. Ratings are scaled according to price, since a costlier product should be higher quality.
Finally, in the notes column, I’ve added a few comments about each model. Some models require batteries, others come with bolts for mounting, etc.
What to Look for in a Fireproof Safe
If fire is your primary concern, you want a fireproof rated safe. Fireproof ratings are established by Underwriter’s Laboratory, based on how long a safe can be exposed to a fire at a certain temperature before the internal temperature inside reaches a given level.
For storing media like data CDs or DVDs, or a backup hard drive, the internal temperature needs to be rated for under 125°F. If you’re only concerned about paper documents or money, any safe rated at 350°F or below will be sufficient.
Water resistance is also important, since in the event of a fire, you don’t want water from the firefighters ruining your stuff. Impact resistance can also be good, because if the structural integrity of your house or office is compromised by the fire, the safe could fall through to the ground level, or have parts of the building fall on top of it. Even if the fire is in another part of the building, you’ll want your stuff protected against the sprinkler system going off.
Check out the review chart below for more details, such as price and size.
Choosing a Burglar-proof Safe
If your primary concern is protecting your valuables and important documents against burglars (and assuming you need access to them and a bank safe-deposit box is not an option), a home safe is the way to go. Although obviously fire resistance is desirable as well, there are some additional things to consider to defeat thieves.
What sort of lock do you want? If you’re the only person who needs access, and if you can afford it, a biometric lock might be a good option. A key lock can be easy to use, but this option carries the risk of losing the key. A combination lock is a good option and can allow others to get in if needed, but you’ll need to be able to permanently remember the combination.
Remember, even the best home safe can be broken into with enough time (unless you have some sort of sci-fi or spy movie option like a self-destruct charge – and trust me, you probably don’t want that). You don’t want thieves to break in and cart off the entire safe, since then they’ll have all the time they need to break in. There are two main options for defeating this tactic: size/weight and concealment.
Obviously, if thieves can’t move it, they can’t take it, so one approach is to get a really heavy cabinet style safe, like a cabinet gun safe. Here are some good reasons why you need a gun safe. However, keep in mind that (1) the floor needs to be able to support it, and (2) you need to be able to get it into the room when you purchase it. And if you move, you’ll want to be able to get it out as well.
Besides brute weight, the other option is concealment. You can get one that hides behind a picture frame, fits into a bookshelf, or is simply built into the wall hidden behind some furniture. This might make it more inconvenient for you to access as well, but it might be worth it to keep your stuff secure.