There are many different types of safes that are available and it can be challenging to try and find the right one for your home. This article will help you understand some of the different choices that you have. Quality safes will meet standards or ratings that are set forth by professional ratings laboratories. This article will provide a brief and overview of how these ratings can help you make a more informed decision with regard to choosing a safe.
Many safes are offered with one or more of the following ratings:
A burglary safe is designed to resist an attack. The thickness of the steel on the body of the safe is one factor that determines how effective it will be at thwarting an attack. Because it has more steel, a good burglary safe is heavy and more expensive than a poorly made safe. Other components of a burglary rated safe include the number of bolts, the thickness of the bolts and the number and types of re-lockers. These safes should always be bolted to the floor no matter how much they weigh.
Underwriters Laboratory rates safes for their resistance to burglary attacks. Look for at least a B-rated safe for good, minimum protection. A class B rating means the safe has a .5 inch thick door and .25 inch thick steel walls. A C rated safe will have a one inch steel door and half inch thick steel walls. They are both great choices.
A TL-15 rated safe will resist attack by a professional for 15 minutes.
A TL-30 rated safe will resist attack by a professional for 30 minutes.
TL-15, TL-20 and TL-30 rated safes are most often used by jewelers to protect their very valuable gemstones and precious metals. They can be used by a homeowner but they are very heavy and very expensive.
I must offer a word of caution here- hire a professional to move the safe for you. It requires a high level of skill to move heavy objects. I cannot emphasize it enough- please hire a pro.
ETL Semko Laboratory tests safes and rates them according to their ability to resist water damage. A waterproof safe can be placed completely in water with very little water entering the safe. A water resistant safe protects the contents when placed in 6 inches of water for 1 hour. “Water Resistant” also refers to a safe that can be sprayed with 1,000 gallons of water for fifteen minutes.
Seal up any holes on the base of the safe (the holes where the floor anchor bolts are), and on the sides (holes for wires) with a silicone product that is heat resistant. This helps protect against water and fire damage.
Safes with a fire rating resist damage from fire. Different manufacturers use different materials to achieve their fire ratings. Some are more fire resistant than others.
Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is an independent testing laboratory that categorizes fire resistant safes by the amount of time that the contents will be safe from a fire. Here is a chart that shows their categories for a fire safe:
.5 hour fire protection at 1550 Degrees F or 843 Degrees C
1 hour fire protection at 1700 Degrees F or 927 Degrees C
2 hour fire protection at 1850 Degrees F or 1010 Degrees C
It is best to get a safe with the highest UL fire rating that you can afford. In our area of the country this is especially important due to the risk of wildfires which are very hot and can burn for a long period of time.
It is important to investigate how the safe panels are welded together. Good safes can withstand powerful impacts by not breaking at the welded seams. This is important because in a fire large objects may land on the safe and break it apart.
It is not uncommon for manufacturers to offer fire safes that are not rated by the Underwriters Laboratory due to the cost of getting a safe rated by UL. Sometimes the manufacturers will offer their own ratings based on their own tests. Some of them make good safes and some don’t.
Make sure that the safe that you purchase is equipped with a good door seal. The seal is necessary to protect the contents from water damage, and humidity. It will also help protect the contents in the event of a fire.
Many factors must be taken into consideration when deciding which safe will be best for your individual needs. Understanding the ratings on a safe can help you make a more informed decision.
Depending on the type of items you wish to store in your safe, you may want to invest in a safe that has a combination of the above ratings. If you are looking for a burglary and fire safe for instance, you will be looking at spending at least 1,100 dollars and up. It is a considerable investment. Take your time and do research on the safes that you are interested in.
The following websites have well written and informative articles with a lot of helpful information. This list is not exhaustive. There are many great safe manufacturers out there with lots of helpful material and great products. Your local, experienced locksmith will be a good source of information as well.
Brown Safe Manufacturing http://www.brownsafe.com/categories/faq/faq.htm
Fort Knox Safes http://www.ftknox.com/
Griffin Enterprises http://www.griffinsafes.com/
Liberty Safe http://www.libertysafe.com/