Everyone has something that is invaluable to them and could never be replaced. No matter what’s important to you – whether it’s your grandfather’s watch, love letters from when you were dating your spouse, or the very first paintings your kids did, not to mention important legal documents such as wills, car titles, and marriage certificates. If you were to sit down and write a list of these things – you may be surprised at the number of things that you would rather not have to do without.
Now imagine that for whatever reason, these important things were to turn up missing. House fires destroy important things every year. Thieves break in while you’re at work and steal the jewelry your great grandmother passed down. Or a frozen pipe causes a basement flood that completely fills your filing cabinet with all your important documents stored away.
All of these scenarios are completely preventable with a quality home safe. This article reviews the best home safes that you can buy to help you evaluate what best fits your needs so you don’t have to overpay just to get something that’s not exactly what you needed.
How to Choose a Safe for Your Home
There’s never been more options available for those looking to lock up their belongings in a safe, which is great new for consumers because it means there’s a good solution for what you need out there, and it’s likely you can buy it at a great price. The major downside to having so many options is that it can make it hard to sort through all of them to figure out what is the right option for you.
We’ve done much of the research for you to help you choose a safe for your home – just like we did in our page on how to choose a gun safe and gun safe reviews. Below are commonly available safes you can find at big box stores as well as online – Amazon often has the best prices and offers free shipping much of the time. Each safe includes a small description to help you determine if it may be the right option for you.
1. The Paragon 7775 Lock and Safe
The Paragon 7775 offers some of the thickest steel walls available in a regular safe, as it’s constructed with 11 gauge steel, which is 0.12 inch thick. This helps protect the safe from being broken into by brute force with an axe or sledgehammer. It also comes with an electronic lock operated by a keypad, and it can also be opened with a key should the batteries the electronic run off of die.
This safe does have some drawbacks – first, it only has two locking bolts that extend into the door frame in one direction. This makes it susceptible to a pry attack, as there is nothing to resist a crowbar’s prying at the top and bottom of the door. It also doesn’t have a fire rating, which is a drawback if you are concerned about protecting things susceptible to high temperatures.
Our Advice: We always recommend bolting down whatever safe you end up buying, and this is especially true if you buy a Paragon 7775. You can help protect it from pry attack by mounting it in a small space so that a crowbar can’t get any leverage to pry it open. One way of doing this would be to build bolt it down, then build a strong wooden frame with drywall around it that fits snugly around it. Be sure that it is recessed into the frame (but the door is still able to open!) so that a crowbar attacker wouldn’t be able to push to gain leverage. Overall this safe could offer better protection – other safes for general home use have better security against thieves and offer fire protection.
2. The First Alert 2096DF Water Proof Safe
The First Alert 2096DF is a very popular safe because of its features and the reasonable price its sold at. It’s a big safe with over 2 cubic feet of storage, which is more than sufficient for most people looking for a home safe. It also has some good security features – it has locking bolts that extend from the door in multiple directions, which makes this safe less susceptible to a pry attack. It also has a extremely thin gap between the door and the frame, which further makes a pry attack less likely to be successful.
Add to all that the fact that it is rated fireproof up to 1,700 degrees for up to 1 hour and is also waterproof, and you can see why it’s so popular. It provides protection against water because it is actually made of resin and not steel. In a fire, the resin melts, sealing the door gap so that water can’t enter the inside of the safe.
Our Advice: This is a quality safe that has many positive reviews online – many people have been very happy with this safe. Its size is ideal for a home safe. It’s likely to be able to accommodate whatever you may need to throw in it for the foreseeable future. However, the fact that it is made of resin makes it more vulnerable to a thief trying to hack through it with an axe. If you buy this safe, take our advice for keeping your safe well-hidden. Overall this safe offers great protection if your major concern is protecting against fire and flood, but is weak against protection from theft.
3. Stack-On E-029-SB-C Elite Executive Fire Safe
Another safe that makes a great option for the home is the Stack-On E-029-SB-C Elite Executive Fire Safe. It is a great option for a home safe because it offers many of the same security features as a gun safe, which makes sense because Stack-On makes high quality gun safes. It is made of steel, making it much more secure against thieves breaking in – in addition to locking bolts that extend in every direction. It is just plain huge, with around 4 cubic feet of storage. It’s a good safe for someone looking for a safe to hold both guns and valuable items. In addition to all this, it also is fire rated for 30 minutes up to 1,400 degrees.
Our Advice: It costs more than many other options for home safes, but this safe is top of the line. You could confidently buy this safe and feel secure against risks from fire, flood, and thieves. Of course no safe should be thought of as completely secure, as any dedicated and well-trained criminal can get into nearly any home safe. However, you can minimize this risk by buying a safe like the Stack-On E-029-SB-C, which offers better protection than its peers.
Gun Safe Versus Regular Safe
Home safes typically don’t hold firearms, at least not long ones such as rifles and shotguns, though they typically have enough space to hold one or more handguns. So, what are the differences between gun safes and regular home safes? Here are a few differences:
The minimum requirement for a gun safe is that it be rated as a residential security contained by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) – which means that it would take at least five minutes for a dedicated thief to break into the safe. This is a rating the government of California came up with to help keep firearms secure and in the hands of their owners.
Guns are a very common target for thieves for many reasons, so it’s in the interest of everyone that they remain in the possession of the responsible people who bought them, and this is one of the main reasons we recommend gun safes versus gun cabinets, which don’t have any such rating and could easily be broken into by nearly anyone with a crowbar.
Regular home safes typically don’t have this rating either, although many can be just as strong as residential security containers if their manufacturers had submitted them to be tested by UL. This test costs significant money, though, and they aren’t required to be rated by any laws. Couple that with the fact that most people don’t care if their home safe is rated, and it leads most manufacturers to not rate their regular home safes.
Material Construction and Wall Thickness
One of the biggest differences between regular safes and gun safes is the materials they’re constructed out of. Gun safes are typically made of steel, and the vast majority have at least 10 gauge steel. This makes sense – steel is strong and makes breaking into the safe a tougher problem, and it also provides some protection in case of accidental discharge of a gun from inside the safe. Regular safes, however, can come in nearly any material. Some are reinforced plastic, some are resin, and some are steel. Obviously it would be preferable to have a small safe that mimics a gun safe when it comes to material and wall thickness to increase security and decrease the chances a thief could break into it.
The biggest and most obvious difference between regular home safes and gun safes is their size. Gun safes typically are able to accommodate multiple large guns, and can be as large as 15 to 20 cubic feet, while most home safes are much smaller, around 2 to 4 cubic feet. Of course, a large gun safe would be a great option for anyone who owns large valuables or a large quantity of them, but for most people the size of a gun safe is just expensive overkill.
Hopefully this information has been helpful to you in your search to secure your belongings. Whether you choose to spend $100 or $1,000 on a safe, you are making a good choice for yourself and your family.