Factors You Should Consider When Buying a Safe
(Excerpts from Security Buyers Guide)
When purchasing a safe there are three main points to consider before making a decision:
Size or Capacity of the Safe
Final Placement of the Safe
Type and Degree of Protection
The first determination, size or capacity, is entirely dependent on what you are going to store in the safe. The best way to do this is to measure the largest items you intend to secure. Plan to buy a safe whose interior dimensions allow for at least 25% more room. Be aware that the inside dimensions of safes vary considerably when accounting for the body and the insulation style of the safe. These two factors can reduce the inside size of a safe by quite a bit. The extra 25% will allow additional room for items you have forgotten to consider or new items you will want to add later. Many safe buyers use up to 50% more room with future growth.
Remember, once you install the safe it'll never get bigger, but you will always find more items you would like to protect.
The second determination, final placement of your safe, is dependent on how much space you have available and how you will move the safe to this location (Cullman Locksmith and Safe Co. offers safe installations, read on to verify you’re fully considering your building’s size in relation to your future safe’s size). Be sure to measure door widths and heights and compare to your safe’s outside dimensions. Also know that the combination lock and door hinges add another 2" - 4" in size. Also, if you are thinking about moving a large, heavy safe up or down stairs, be sure that the stairs (and the areas that the safe will be moved across) are strong enough to support this weight.
The third determination, type and degree of protection, is dependent on the nature of the property that you wish to secure. You might start by asking your insurance company what safe ratings they require to provide you with coverage. Safes are built to meet certain fixed standards for either fire or burglary resistance. Non-negotiable paper documents and records usually can be housed in a fireproof safe. However, if the items are primarily valuables such as cash, bullion, coins or jewelry, then they should be stored in an appropriate burglary resistive safe. It is possible to make a burglary safe fire resistive by using small fire resistive inserts or composite materials.
Fire ratings are evaluated by testing to see if safes can withstand varying furnace heat for specific amounts of time. For example, the UL Class 350 1-hour fire rating means that the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 350°F for at least 1 hour when exposed to external temperatures over 1700°F for 1 hour. A safe may have a 1-, 2-, or 3-hour time classification. Additionally, safes will be heated and then dropped from heights reaching 30 feet to test against explosions. † Be sure to take the fire rating into consideration when deciding where your safe will be located in your building and in regards to your local fire department’s response time.
TL rated safes are combination lock safes that offer protection against combinations of mechanical, electrical, and cutting tools. Safes with a TL rating will resist abuse for a varying amount of time, depending on which classification tier they fall under, from picking tools to hand tools, mechanical or electrical tools, grinding points, carbide drills, pressure-applying devices, cutting wheels, power saws and impact tools. Some TR-rated safes can also withstand welding and cutting torch abuse at certain levels. †
UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, an independent organization dedicated to educating businesses and the public about safety and performance of products in a wide spectrum of industries. UL has been testing and rating products for more than 100 years, and evaluates nearly 20,000 products annually. The UL rating is an indicator of product quality and certification of safety. †
† “Safe Ratings: UL, TL, B-Rate, C-Rate, Fire: Fireking Security Group.” Safe Ratings: UL, TL, B-Rate, C-Rate, Fire | Fireking Security Group, www.fireking.com/node/2766.