What to Look For in a Home Safe Before Purchasing One

what to look for in a home safe

Last Updated on July 29, 2021

If you are serious about protecting your valuables at home, then it’s best to research viable, safe options and perhaps spend the next few minutes checking out what to look for in a home safe when buying it. Below we go through various factors to help you gain a better understanding of what should be included in your wall safe.

Maybe not all of the below points will apply to you. However, we believe that it’s essential to know the ins and outs of owning the right safe so that, firstly, you can protect your valuables properly. And, secondly, your insurance company knows that you have an effective safe and will reimburse any stolen items that may have been in the safe.

So, let’s go through different areas that you need to consider when looking at buying a safe for your home.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Safe

Why a Safe?

But why should you even bother with a safe in the first place? Well, while we may not all have exquisite jewellery and diamonds galore, there are plenty of other valuable items or documents you may want to keep in a safe place.

Any important (legal) documents should be stored in a home safe. These may include papers such as the deed to your home or life insurance policies that should be protected in case there’s a fire or a flood in your house. You may also want to keep personal memorabilia locked away so it doesn’t collect too much dust or get faded by the sun.

A safe can contain so many different objects that it’s essential to think beyond gold and other financially valuable items.

A safe is used both at home as well as in companies. A business fire could destroy the business, never mind important documents or cash. Keeping items protected, aside from anything made from precious metals, could save your entire future.

So understanding why you need a wall safe, for example, is easy: if you have anything worth saving and is valuable to your life in some way, then some form of home safe will be a viable option for you to consider.

However, it gets a bit more complicated when you try to work out the best safe for your needs. But that’s about to get a bit easier, as we will guide you through that process next.

Where to Place Your Home Safe

While a hidden safe will be the better option, there are some ideas as to where home safes can be located.

Of course, you don’t want it to be obvious, and many owners mistakenly think that the master bedroom is a good location. However, we disagree.

The safe’s location is something to think about before buying a safe, as you may need to do some preparation work and figure out some measurements. Home safes come in all sizes, and while keeping them in plain sight is something that some people go for, hiding them away somewhere is best.

Thinking about where it’s going to be located also lets you think about how it will be installed. You may find that your home safe simply sits on the floor of a closet or in a cupboard. Alternatively, you may wish to place it under floorboards so that it’s completely hidden from view.

A few factors you should always consider are the safe’s locking mechanism and the door construction. Additionally, think about the location of your home safe before you spend any money.

Consider What You Want to Store

Before we go into what to look for in terms of the safe’s specific properties, i.e. whether it’s fire-resistant, you need to have a good understanding of what you will store in either your wall safe, floor safe or even a safety deposit box.

Knowing what is to be stored allows you to have a better understanding of the size you are will require. Important documents are going to need less space compared to a safe that contains some precious heirlooms.

Keep in mind that a safe is heavy. Some larger versions will need to be placed on a concrete floor simply because of their weight. Does considering this aspect change the desired location of your safe, or even what you want to store in a safe?

So, think about your valuable possessions, and then look at the size of home safes that will then correspond to your ability to protect those valuable assets.

What Type Do You Need?

You also need to think about the type of safe you need. You must choose between fire resistant safes, freestanding models, safes for storing precious data, and some people may even need a gun safe.

Once again, getting some insight into what type of home safe you need is going to help narrow down your options.

The Locks

There’s more to this than your simple security and safety needs. You also must be aware of how the safe locks.

In general, there are several types of locks available, and whether you’re considering a floor safe, wall safe or a small deposit box, most safe will offer you the same options. The key lock is the most basic type. One factor to be aware of with key locks is that you need to know where you keep the key so you don’t inadvertently lock yourself out.

The Electronic Lock/Digital Locks

With electronic locks, you enter a PIN to gain access. Setting up the PIN or changing it to a different code is a relatively straightforward process. In comparison to keys, PINs can’t be lost, but they can be forgotten, so make sure that you choose one that is memorable to you. A positive aspect about a PIN is that you can share it with someone you trust via the phone, and that person can then gain access by typing it into the keypad on the front of the safe.

The Combination Lock

Similar to keypads, next on our list of options are combination locks. This is in line with the sort you will see in the movies where you need to enter the correct combination on the front of the safe to gain access. However, if you forget the combination, then chances are that you will then require a professional to help you gain access to the safe to retrieve what’s inside.

The Dial Lock

Dial locks are perhaps one of the types of locks people think about when it comes to a home safe. It has a clock style dial on the front that you spin around to line up certain numbers. These locks come with their own code, and you need to hit those numbers in sequence to then be granted access to what’s inside.

The Biometric Lock

Biometric locks are generally more common on higher-priced safes. They often use fingerprints to allow you to access what is inside, and it’s certainly another option if you struggle with combination codes. However, they are certainly rarer when it comes to locking options.

So, think about which option you prefer. If you struggle to remember those PIN numbers, it may be best to look at an alternative.

Size and Locks Aren’t Everything

Even though they are essential, the safe size, along with the lock, is not everything one should consider. You also need to be aware of how secure it is. This is something that an insurance company will want to know about should you need to make a claim. They want to know that you are taking extra security precautions wherever possible.

So, what do they look for in a safe?

What Does an Insurance Company Look For in a Safe?

Cash Ratings

One thing you will see referenced is the cash rating for the safe. It tells you how much cover you will receive for insurance purposes when using that safe.

Basically, it lets you know what you can put in the safe when storing cash or valuables and serves as a reference for the amount up until which you are protected. For example, say the cash rating for a certain wall safe was £1000, but you had £1500 in there, then you would not be covered for £1000.

The Manufacturer

An insurance company will also look at the different safe manufacturers and determine that some are better than others. They are aware that some companies will use very thin metal to create their safe, and that’s not going to offer burglary protection to the level they would expect or want.

Instead, they will prefer you to choose a safe that is made of solid plate steel. Not only does this type of steel and construction offer the longest fire protection, but it also stops most burglars in their tracks.

When looking for manufacturers, the key is not simply to go for just any old or established name. Although many manufacturers have built up a good reputation, it always pays off to do some extra research. So, remember that even when opting for floor safes or wall safes by a well-known manufacturer, you will want to check that all the other points on this list are fulfilled.

Remember that not all safes are created equal, so don’t fall into that trap.

The Construction

The construction of your home safe must ensure that everything placed within it will be secured. After all, it must protect papers and other valuables, so you don’t want something flimsy.

Instead, your chosen safe should be made from solid steel with a certain thickness. The minimum thickness depends on the type of steel used and safe itself, so check the manufacturer’s handbook or any online reviews.

You need to make sure that the safe has been constructed to meet certain industry standards. Your insurance company will have a good idea of what those standards are, and they will also require them to be met for your insurance policy to be valid.

It may be a good idea to contact your insurers and ask them for advice. They will have information on the standards that they expect, and at least you will then know that you are indeed covered.

A Fire Safe

Aside from protecting you from a burglary attack, most people are concerned about the possibility of a fire and how their home safe can protect items from fire and smoke damage.

Each fire safe is not made to the same standard, so you want to ensure you are purchasing the real deal. You may need to protect paper documents, as well as sensitive data, along with keeping your valuables secure. For that, you do need a fire-resistant safe that offers a minimum fire rating to protect your belongings within.

How Fire Retardant Material Helps

Fire resistance is a key part of the fire rating of a safe. Insurance companies will look for an absolute minimum rating to provide you with cover for any valuables stored inside.

Fire safes will contain special material that not only keeps a fire at bay but will also be capable of protecting paper documents in your home safe by keeping the temperature below a certain level.

The idea here is that there’s a critical temperature at which point paper, and especially photos, start to be affected by the fire’s heat is never reached. Fire safes need to prevent the inner temperature from reaching that point, so their ability to resist heat is paramount.

That is all achieved by incorporating fire-retardant materials, and you need to be aware of what temperature the safe can stay below before you even think about buying one.

What You Store Plays a Role in a Fire Safe

This is where things can get a bit more complicated. The critical temperature at which things can spoil varies depending on what’s inside.

For example, digital media stored on memory cards has a significantly lower critical temperature compared to paper documents. Old-fashioned tapes and films have an even lower temperature.

Ideally, you want a home safe that will keep the internal temperature pretty constant, no matter what is going on outside. The problem is that it’s tough getting a home safe that can do this. Most will only protect one specific type of media but look around at options to see which one fits best.

Installation Can Impact Your Home Safe

In order to add to all of the above, there is another part to consider when choosing home safes, and that is where they will be installed. The type of safe you own will naturally dictate the location depending on how it opens; however, the fire rating does.

Only some safes can be floor safes. By that, we mean that only some can be effectively bolted to the floor without the fire protection being affected. However, the easy way to get around this is to check before you buy. Insurance claims can be made void for any reason, and this is certainly something that they will pick up on should something happen.

Get a Home Safe

You need to be aware of every part of your chosen home safe, from knowing what it is made from to how you lock it and how it will be installed in your home. Just one point going wrong may possibly make the safe ineffective or may mean that your insurance doesn’t cover your valuables.

As you can see, you have to know what to look for in a home safe when choosing one for your home. There’s a bit more to it all than simply opting for the one that looks the part. Instead, more thought needs to go into the purchase to ensure that it provides the type of security you are looking for.

The good news is that none of this is too difficult. It just takes a bit of time on your part. At least once you have bought your new safe, you will know that everything is nice and secure.

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