When buying a safe for your home or business, the first question you should ask yourself is “what am I going to put into a safe” and “what size of safe will accommodate those items”?  A rule of thumb, is if this is your first safe, always plan for more room than you first think since once you own one you’ll find more uses for the safe.

Most safes are designed to protect their contents from fire, theft, or both.

The BIGGEST MISTAKE a consumer commonly makes, is putting valuables in fire safes.  These types of safes can be compromised easily by an unexperienced burglar.

Key Pad vs Mechanical Locks

Mechanical locks come as “standard” on most safes.  For a small investment you can upgrade to a key pad locks.  Key pad locks give you quicker access, easily used for older people or those with site problems.

Fire resistance

Fire is usually the first concern of most buyers.  There is a one in four chance of experiencing a fire large enough to warrant calling the fire department.  For home safes, 30 minutes of protection is most common.

Fire ratings are established by Underwriters Laboratories.  A safe with a fire rating of UL Class 350 1-hour” for example, will take at least an hour to exceed 350 degrees Fahrenheit when exposed to outside temperatures exceeding 1700 degree Fahrenheit.  Other fire safes will endure for two or even three hours.

Safes with fire protection are usually made of sheet metal and are designed to give off moisture during a fire.  With that being said, the best items to store in a fire rated safe are those that will survive moisture ie valuable papers, cash, jewelry etc.  Items especially not good to be stored in this type of safe would be items such as cameras, stamp collections, guns.

Burglary protection

There are different types of burglary protection.  It is important to bolt down safes to keep them from being moveable.  Burglars usually go for what they can grab quickly so the best advise for a safe that has burglary protection are items you specifically don’t want to lose – valuables like cameras, guns, family heirlooms, etc.

There are different “classes” of burglary safes to consider.  The ratings are guidelines from a testing agency known as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  UL ratings are based upon very specific construction standards and testing thresholds.  Again, determine what you want to store and consider the options that make the most sense for your stored items.

Class B Rating

A Class B rated safe has a steel door less than 1 inch in thickness and wall less than ½ inch in thickness.  Class B’s with quality locking and relocking mechanisms will be difficult for poorly equipped, amateur burglars to compromise within an hour’s time.  If the safe owner is planning on storing smaller valuables, a Class B safe should provide sufficient protection.

Class C Rating

Class C rated safes have at least 1 inch of steel door thickness, and at least ½ inch of wall thickness all around.  They are usually twice as thick and twice as heavy as their Class B counterparts.  This class of safe would sufficient store small to large valuables.

A safe qualifies as Class B or Class C purely based on its construction.

TL Ratings and Net Working Time

TL Ratings are used to rate safes according to their demonstrated resistance to criminal compromise.  Underwriters Laboratories (UL) uses a measuring standard called Net Working Time (NWT) to determine how long it would take a reasonably well-equipped and knowledgeable burglar to compromise a safe.  Everything from simple saws and chisels to diamond drinking wheels may be used to establish a safe’s NWT and the result is reflected the TL rating.  Compromising safes with higher TL ratings, in addition to requiring longer amounts of time, also require more sophisticated tools.

TL-15 safes can withstand at least 15 minutes of attack with good tools before being compromised.

TL-30 safes can withstand at least 30 minutes of attack with highly sophisticated tools before being compromised.

When “X6” appears next to a TL safe rating, it’s an indication that the safe demonstrated the ability to withstand a simultaneous attack on all six of its walls.  A safe rated TL-30X6 can thus withstand a multi-planed attach with highly sophisticated tools for at least 30 minutes.  A TL-30×6 is a wise investment if storing items valued up to $500,000 such as jewelry or other collectibles.

A TRTL rating signifies that the safe can withstand both torch and tool based attacks.  Again, a wise investment if storing items of high value.

Any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact an A&B Security Group representative.

Fire Ratings

Fire ratings are also established and tested by Underwriters Laboratories, though they have their own distinct, easy-to-understand format. A safe with a fire rating of “UL Class 350 1-hour,” for example, will take at least an hour to exceed 350 degrees Fahrenheit when exposed to outside temperatures exceeding 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. Other fire safes will endure for two or even three hours.

When deciding what safe is right for specific needs, it is always important to ensure it is certified by a trusted industry source.