From tax records to passports and other important items, there are plenty of reasons for someone to want a personal safe in their home. Some people use safes to store valuable items such as jewelry and rare baseball cards. Of course, those types of things are typically safer in a bank safety deposit box, but you can still put stuff like that in your home safe. With so many different models, brands and sizes on the market, we compared them all for you and selected our top picks when it comes to the nest home safes for the money.
Best Home Safes in 2015 - 2016
For most people, there are two main reasons to get a safe for your home. One, to protect important documents and items from burglars. Two, to protect important documents and items from fire and other weather events. Of course, you may have an entirely different reason and that’s okay too.
If you’re not really sure if you need a safe or not, then let’s look at some of the most common things that people store in them. Most home safes are used to store:
- tax documents
- birth certificates
- other legal documents
- family photos
- computer backups
- gun (if there isn’t a gun safe in the house)
That’s just to give you an idea of what most people use them for, but you can put whatever you want in one. I know that when I go out of town, I like to put my laptop in my safe (if I’m not taking it with me). That gives me peace of mind that if a burglar gets into the house, then I won’t lose my laptop and all the sensitive files on it.
What Size Home Safe Do I Need?
This is a common question from people who are buying their very first safe for home use. And since models vary in size, you definitely want to figure this out before you start shopping for one. I think that the easiest way to get this answer is to just measure what you plan on storing in it.
So, gather up everything that you intend to put in the safe and put it in a pile. Now, think about things that you might want to occasionally store inside of it, such as a laptop computer or tablet. Gather those items and add them to the pile. One you have all of that in a pile, you should measure it to determine your space requirements.
Keep in mind that the most common size for home safes is 1.2 to 1.3 cubic feet. To help you visualize this size, the capacity is about a foot-high stack of legal documents. So, not too big but not the smallest home safe either. No matter what size you end up needing, you will find plenty of great options to choose from.
Sentry Safe SFW205GRC Electronic Water-Resistant Fire-Safe Review
If you need a good home safe that is large enough to hold documents, valuable and maybe some small electronics, then this Sentry Safe model is the best choice for you right now. It boasts an impressive 2.0 cubic feet of capacity, which makes it larger than most models on the market.
As you can see from the image, you can really fit a lot into this safe. And even better, it is both water resistant and fire resistant.
This thing is strong to enough to handle any break-in attempts as well. It’s been tested at a 15-foot drop and it holds up. It also features six of those one-inch live locking bolts that slow down criminals who attempt to get inside of it.
The fire resistance capability for this model has been rated by ETL at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of up to one hour. So all of your digital media like disk drives, USB drives, etc. will survive even the strongest of fires as long as the high temps don’t last more than an hour.
ETL has also rated the water resistance of this safe for a period of 24 hours in up to 8″ of water. So, if you’re in a hurricane area or a flood zone, this safe is a good choice for you.
The digital lock can be programmed so that you can choose your preferred lock code. But what is really nice about this model is that the dual key lock means double protection in the event that someone guesses your pass code!
You get bolted-down hardware included with this model, which means that you can secure it into place so that no one can come along and move it. Overall, this is a really great value home safe for families who want to keep their valuables and important documents protected.
Common Safe Ratings
As you begin to compare home safes, you will notice that some of them have special ratings and certifications. While most safes are designed to offer protection from theft and fire (some also offer water resistance), a few companies get their models independently rated for the protection. When you see this, it will typically be rated by either Intertek or Underwriters Laboratories. You will see the Underwriters Laboratories mark listed as UL and the Intertek one listed as ETL.
Whether you own your home or rent, break-ins from burglars is something that pretty much everyone fears. This is true even if you don’t have anything too valuable in the home. But if you do have valuables, then you want to not only make sure that they’re in a safe, but that they’re in a safe that the burglar can’t break into.
Unfortunately, most home safes are not rated for burglary protection. Typically it is just jeweler and commercial safes that get this type of rating. For the rating, the safes are tested against things like explosives, blow torches, and common tools. The rating agencies test protection effectiveness under 15 minutes worth of attempted break-ins.
The good news for consumers is that most burglars aren’t going to bother with your home safe. This is mostly due to the fact that they are in a hurry to get in and out of the house, which means that they mostly get whatever they can quickly grab and carry out. And, most home safes weigh at least 100 pounds empty, so carrying one out is a bit more of a challenge for them. Additionally, bolt-down kits often come with safes to make it even more difficult for anyone to quickly run off with your safe and its contents.
For a lot of people out there, fire protection is the #1 reason why they buy a home safe. While that might sound silly to you, it is actually a very good reason and something that could actually happen to your home. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that you have a one in four chance of a fire in your home happening during your lifetime. Kinda scary, huh? Cause that is a 25% chance!
Fire resistance is rated on the temperature that the inside of the safe reaches during a fire. And the ideal temperature rating really depends on what you’re storing in the safe. For simple documents, one that does not exceed 350 degree during a fire is perfect for you. If you have something like some old photography slides or tape recordings, then you’ll need one that won’t exceed 150 degrees. Storing computer disks or CD/DVD disks? For those, you’ll want to choose a safe that doesn’t exceed 125 degrees in a fire.
Most of the time, the packaging or product description of a safe lets you know what it’s rated for and what you can keep safe at those temperatures.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most fire resistance safes are rated for the standard 30 minute period. This is because house fires tend to move quickly and be out of a room in 20 minutes. However, you can certainly find home safes that offer you an hour or longer of protection. Just keep in mind that those with more than 30 minutes of protection do tend to have higher prices.
A lot of home safe manufactures go ahead and get their safes tested for water resistance too. They do this by submerging them in water for a period and then checking to see if the contents remain dry. The purpose of this test is to see how the safe will hold up during a flood, hurricane or broken water pipe. If the safe has been tested for it, then you will see it mentioned on the packaging or in the product description online.
Other Home Safe Buying Considerations
Before you buy up the first safe that you find, take a moment to mull over some of the things below. That way, you will end up make a better decision on which safe best meets your needs.
Home Safe Cost
While you may be on a budget, this is not the place to look for savings. So, while you may be tempted to shop for a cheap home safe, do yourself a favor and go with one that offers the best value for the money – as long as it meets you needs.
If you don’t need a full size safe cause you only have a few documents to store, then something like a fire chest might be the better option for you. Prices for these tend to start at around $25 and they are small in size than your standard home safe.
The standard 1.2 to 1.3 cubic feet home safe ranges in price from about $150 to $400 on average. Expect to spend more than that if you need a larger safe or if you need extra features like shelves or drawers.
Where To Put Your Home Safe?
Thanks to movies and television shows, many people buy home safes and put them in their bedroom. This is a terrible idea because home security experts agree that the master bedroom is the first place that burglars go during a break-in.
If you want the location of your home that is best for fire protection, then put the safe in your basement. However, if you live in an area that is prone to floods, you will not want to place it in the basement.
Avoiding the bedroom, try to put the safe in a location that keeps it out of the line of sight for most people. This will help to keep it hidden in the event that a burglar does get into the home.