The possessions of some people such as jewelry, important documents or firearms are valuable to an extent that they require special protection. To address their concerns they often invest in more expensive, but sturdier-than-basic models.
Consumers may choose from three major types of safes for residential purposes. The usual freestanding model is perhaps the most versatile. Although it may be placed wherever it's owner wishes, it should be bolted to a floor to prevent theft of the entire safe.
Using a Wall Safe
A wall safe is inserted into a space within a wall fit to the safe's dimensions and at a depth so that the safes are flush with the rest of the wall. In these cases care should be taken that the surrounding wall is strong enough to support the safe and sturdy enough to withstand attempts to steal the safe by breaking through the wall.
Using a Floor Safe
A floor safe is inserted into the floor so that the door to safe is flush with the rest of the floor. Similar to the wall safe, floor safes require floors strong enough to withstand the safe's weight. Safes may also feature a number of different interiors including shelves and interior compartments to fit individual needs.
Price for these types of safes varies enormously. An extremely inexpensive and small, yet not highly sturdy safe may cost as little as fifty dollars. For larger and sturdier safes, the purchase price may reach thousands of dollars.
Burglary Resistance of Home Safes
Most people buy safes to protect their valuables against theft. Manufacturers offer many different options for increasing a safe's resistance to burglary including thicker walls, extra bolts, and inserting ball bearings or plate steel within walls (this defeats attempts to drill).
As a widely accepted authority on the durability of safes, Underwriter's Laboratories (UL), rates safes according to their resistance to attempted burglary. Generally, safes are rated according to how long it would take a hypothetical burglar to break into the safe. Fifteen minutes is an accepted industry standard, but tests may last up to one hour. A rating system of 1-5 with 5 as maximum resistance rates safes.
Resistance to Various Hazards
Most people are familiar with the purpose of safes to protect valuables against burglary. However, many people are unaware of other requirements, such as resistance to fire, water, and impacts. Experts recommend investment in safes that resist different hazards. If you have already decided to invest in an extra-fortified safe, logic dictates that you optimize your safe's level of resistance to hazards and attempts to break into it, balanced against the price of the safe.
To test safes' resistance to hazards and burglary, tests include fire, water, explosives, and impacts in which safes are dropped from heights of several stories onto hard surfaces such as concrete. Often, these tests are combined to guarantee a safe's resistance to compromise from impacts and hazards.
You should also take care to understand how your safe is rated. Some manufacturers advertise their safes as "tested to UL standards," however being tested to these standards does not guarantee that a safe is rated with a passing grade. You should ask for a certification that the safe is "UL listed" for assurance that the safe is rated with UL approval.
Fire Proof Safe Testing
Fire presents one of the most serious threats to your valuables. Thus, resistance to fire constitutes a chief concern for most consumers of these safes. UL measures the capacity of safes' to resist fire and protect paper and other materials. It rates them according to a standard ranking. Class A represents the most durable category describing safes that can resist fires burning at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. Class D represents the least durable, able to resist fires burning at 1,550 degrees for a half-hour.
Data Safe Testing
Safes needed to protect media such as computer disks require special protective manufacture. Another system to rate safes is numeric according to a maintenance of interior temperature. Thus, the lower numbers indicate sturdier more, hazard-resistant safes. This system rates data safes at 125 or 72 and document safes at 350. Some companies also offer attachable cooling systems to compliment the safe's resistance to fire.
Testing Safes for Potential Water Damage
Another source of damage to safe contents is water. Building codes require equipping many structures with automatic sprinklers that spray water when a sensor detects fire. Also, water from fire hoses enters homes. Both of these sources potentially damage safe contents.
Although most people are familiar with traditional padlocks, many now use electronic locks for their greater versatility. Please see the section on Electronically Locked Safes.