Consider your present needs as well as future needs. We are often told by customers that they did not purchase a safe that is large enough. Additionally, carefully consider the value of the contents you wish to place in the safe as well as the problems you may incur if the contents are lost to either forced entry or loss due to fire. Do your homework. Carefully list what you wish to store in the safe. Try to estimate the amount of cubic feet needed. But remember… When it comes to investing in a safe… Bigger and Stronger is Better!
Safes come in different styles and sizes. Many are only thin metal cabinets without fire or burglary protection. Consider safe body and door construction first. Carefully review thickness of metal and type of locking mechanism, followed by fire rating. Many safes on the market today, especially those offered for sale by either big box retailers or mass merchandise online websites should only be considered cabinets, rather than safes. Thoroughly research the type of safe you are seeking. You will find most low end safes are no more than storage cabinets that have very thin metal bodies made from 14 to 16 or even as thin as 20 gauge steel. A hammer, screw driver or small pry bar can easily break into a thin metal safe. Don’t rely on a cheap thin metal cabinet to protect your valuables. It just will not do the job.
A quality safe should have a minimum of 11 gauge (1/8”) steel for the exposed surface of the body of the safe and preferably 7 gauge (3/16”) steel. Door construction is vitally important. Safe doors are usually the first area to be attacked and are found to be the first line of defense to discourage a criminal. Consider safes with at least a 3/16” solid steel plate on the exposed surface of the door. More secure safes have a 3/8” to 1/2″ steel plate on the exposed surface of the door. Reference our steel thickness chart below to learn more about steel thickness.
The following are guidelines for content value of the various levels of security that a safe can provide. These values are generally used for businesses for insurance purposes, but are a good guideline for different levels of protection. You may wish to contact your insurance company for specific limitations, exclusions and their requirements when making a selection for business reasons.
The best protection a wall safe provides is concealment, however most burglars are going to look for a wall safe and if found will not take long to penetrate or remove the safe from the wall with common had tools or a pry bar. Wall safe are installed within a wall and attached to the wall studs. Wall safes are usually not a good place to store expensive contents, however may be considered because of its quick access to keep limited amounts of cash and personal items from children. They are not designed to provide protection from fire.
Fire ratings are often overlooked, but should be one of the top considerations along with the safe’s door and body steel thickness. We recommend that you only consider safes with a minimum of a 1 hour, or longer, fire rating. Safes with less than a 1 hour fire rating will NOT provide adequate protection to survive a typical business or home fire. The typical home fire burns in the 800 to 1200 degree Fahrenheit temperature range. If a safe is located close to the starting point of a fire it would be subjected to higher temperatures toward the end of a fire. Please note that 350 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature where paper, documents and paper currency will start to char and burn.
Why spend your earnings on a safe that won’t protect your guns, ammo, collectables, heirlooms, documents, photos, cash or other valuables during a fire? If you are on a limited budget then select a safe with the longest fire protection affordable to you.
Additionally, don’t overlook the fire seal around the safe door. Many promotional or discounted safes don’t even have fire seals around the door. During a fire the fire seal should expand to seal out fire and smoke and keep water from entering the safe if water is sprayed on the safe in the course of extinguishing a fire.
No. First, please note that there are no “fireproof” consumer safes on the market today… they are all fire resistant, meaning they resist heat and smoke typically from 30 to 120 minutes.
Fire rated safes should protect cash and paper documents from heat and smoke damage, however, fire resistant safes typically use very thin steel (14-18 gauge) in the body construction, which is used to house the fire retardant material. Steel this thin allows for the safe to be easily punctured, cut or sawed with common hand tools, thus easy to defeat for a burglar. Additionally, many safes on the market today can be opened by simply dropping them on a hard surface.
We do NOT recommend storing cash, photos, heirlooms, documents, jewelry or precious metals, in a cheap fire rated safe. A better choice is a 1 or 2 hour fire rated safe with a RSC rating for Burglary. For safes having a content value above $10,000, one should consider a high security TL rated fire safe. These safes are designed to protect your valuables against both burglar attacks and fires.
The term “fireproof” is a very misleading term often used by unqualified companies to describe the fire safes they sell. The terms that should be used are “fire resistant” for a specific length of time. Most media, drives, DVDs, old negatives, photos etc. are sensitive to heat and humidity or moisture. A standard fire resistant safe is not engineered to specifically protect against these potential hazards. Fire resistant safes are engineered and designed to protect paper and keep the internal temperature of the safe below 350 degrees, which is the temperature where paper will start to char and burn. Any sensitive data or media will be badly damaged or destroyed between 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit or upon reaching 85% humidity.
If you have any special data or media that you need to protect against fire, a Digital Data or Media Safe should be considered. These safes will keep the inside temperature below 135 degrees as well as the humidity below 85%. Most Digital Data and Media Safes do not offer burglary protection.
Additionally, make certain to purchase a quality dehumidifier to protect against excess moisture inside your safe.
Floor safes provide great hidden security and a high level of security against attack if installed in a floor encased by concrete on all five sides… however, flun safes provide very little fire protection. The reason floor safes lack a fire rating is due to the fact that the door does not contain fireboard to dissipate the heat when exposed directly to a fire. This leads to the destruction of the contents within the floor safe in a short period of time.
You should place your safe where you are most likely to use it. Be cognizant of the exterior dimensions of the safe (height x width x depth) before ordering, having the safe delivered and installed. It is always best to properly bolt down and secure the safe to the floor. Make certain there is adequate lighting to the front of the safe so the dial numbers or dial markings are clearly visible and easy to read. If you do not have an alarm system in your home, office or business, then placing your safe “out of sight, out of mind” may be very important.
One of the easiest ways for a burglar to attack and break into any safe is to move it where they can have the space to freely use their tools (pry bars, hammer etc...) to get into the safe and the time to try to penetrate the safe. Anchoring the safe to the floor is a very effective way to secure your safe. Even if you feel your safe is hidden you still need to anchor your safe in case it is discovered by a burglar. Remember that being careful and taking extra security precautions will help keep your items secure. Most safes are manufactured with pre-drilled anchor hole(s) and are fairly simple to anchor into concrete. If you have a wood sub floor be cognizant that just installing a wood anchor in your floor will NOT provide adequate security. These anchors can easily be ripped out the wood sub floor by leveraging the weight of the safe. An effective ways to secure a safe to a wood sub floor is to drill holes in your floor and extend long threaded rods down below the floor joist and connect the rods to an angle iron that is four to five feet in length spanning several floor joists and secure the threaded rod to the angle iron and bolt down the safe.
A Multi-level security approach is a great deterrent in protecting your assets at home, office or business. Please consider the following home or business security options:
Taking extra security precautions will keep you and your important items safe and secure.
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Free Wheeling Clutch whereindicated with "C" suffix
This cross reference chart is based on current information available to us. The manufacturers listed above may have a more current list. Information is subject to change without notice and is intended to be used for reference purposes only. Some features, specifications and designs may vary. Copyright © 2017 MERIK.
2G1L SFIC Series
2G2K SFIC Series
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