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Home Safe Buying Guide
Quick tips for choosing the best home safe for your needs
Knowing what you intend to keep in your home safe and what those objects need to be protected from is the fastest way to figuring out which safe would be best for your needs. Are you looking to store guns? Papers? Jewelry? Computer disks? Arnold Schwarzenegger's endoskeleton arm from Terminator 2? Making a list of items will not only help you to determine what size the safe needs to be, but also what safety features it should have.
Tip: size up. As time goes on, you'll likely want to add more items than your current floor or wall safe will be able to accommodate. You should also look for wall safes or free standing safes that feature well-organized interiors (drawers, shelves, compartments, etc.).
Fire-resistant home safes are strenuously tested and then rated for heat and sometimes impact resistance. There's no such thing as a fireproof home safe, only safes that will withstand heat for longer periods of time (typically anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours). Be aware that most small wall safes are not fire resistant. Underwriters Laboratories is generally considered the best third-party safe rating organization. If you plan to store anything more sensitive than paper (e.g. videos, computer disks), then you'll want a fire-resistant free standing safe that maintains an internal temperature of 125 degrees F or 150 degrees F rather than the paper-safe 350 degrees F.
Biometric safes, safes with electronic keypads, or safes with a key-protected combination lock will offer the most security. Other safety features to consider include steel thickness (for enhanced protection, go up to 3/16 or 1/4 inch), hidden hinges, dehumidifiers, and the use of lock bolts for extra security.
Tip: in addition to fire- and flood-resistance ratings, other ratings to look for include drill resistance (DR), torch resistance (TR), and tool and torch resistance (TRTL).
If concealment is your highest priority, then wall safes and in floor safes may be your best choice, as they can be hidden behind a picture or beneath a rug. Free standing safes could be hidden in a closet or safe room, and most come with pre-set holes for bolting the safe into the floor.
Tip: an expensive safe pays for itself if it prevents just one theft or property loss. Check with your insurance company to see if having a home safe will get you a lower premium.