British banks continue to withdraw from secure custody services and it’s now difficult to find a safe deposit box to rent outside major commercial centres. However, if you’re nervous about safeguarding your valuables, a home safe can provide a convenient and cost-effective alternative.
Price varies with size and features but how do you narrow your choices and find a safe that fits your requirements?
Firstly, decide what’s going inside your safe. Will it be used to secure high-value items such as jewels or cash; perishable items of emotional value such as photographs; digital media; heirlooms, or documents of legal importance such as passports or wills? Do you need bank-standard security or just something to discourage a casual burglary attempt? Will the contents of the safe be susceptible to fire or water-damage? Defining the safe’s contents in advance, and their size, will help you specify the protection you need and appropriate interior dimensions.
What to look for in a home safe
A safe can offer protection against burglary but also against damage from fire and water. Cheaper safes tend to be burglar-resistant, only, and can be opened with basic tools in a relatively short period of time; more expensive safes have stronger locks and doors, while the best can resist fire, smoke and extinguishing water for up to 120 minutes.
There are various British and EU standards applying to home safes but we like the guidance provided in CSN EN 14450: Basic burglary protection should be a double-wall door with a single-wall corpus (cabinet walls, floor and roof); Top-end anti-burglary protection is provided by a door and walls filled with a special concrete or other anti-penetrating material. Fire protection ratings are based on the minimum length of time the safe is fireproof for paper, usually 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes (EN 1047-1).
The style of lock may influence your choice of safe. There are three common types: Dial; Keypad and Key. A dial is the traditional lock for a safe, rotating to the left and right to access the numbers in a combination. A keypad is a modern innovation allowing the owner to enter a pin number to unlock the safe. A key is perhaps the simplest but can be lost and is mostly now used as a back-up with another type of lock.
Other features that might impact your choice are ‘finish’, for instance, black or grey; shiny or matt, and interior options like shelves or ‘carpeting’ that can prevent scratching on valuables.
Manufacturers have created a wide range of safes to meet the different demands of buyers. We’ve researched many of the safes on offer and have compiled a list of picks with varying features and price points that we believe are worth your consideration.
Best Home Safe
Yale Locks YVSS Safe
The ‘YVSS’ is the smallest of the Value Range of three safes offered by Yale (the largest can fit standing filing-binders). The safe is opened using a digital keypad with back-up keys. The keypad has 10,000 possible programmable codes and has a lock-out that operates after three incorrect entries (20 seconds) or six wrong tries (6 minutes). An LED indicator shows green for ‘open’; red for ‘error’ or ‘low battery’. The safe, which weighs 5 kilos, can be bolted to a wall or the floor using the included hardware. The exterior dimensions are 31 x 20 x 20cm (W x H x D) – similar in size to a typical hotel room safe – and the interior floor is lined. This safe will protect against random theft but is not fireproof. Everybody is familiar with the historic Yale brand, which has a reliable reputation in locks and home security and its Value Range of safes meets many buyers’ requirements at feasible prices.
Amazon Basics Security Safe 14.1L
Amazon Basics offers four models of its Security Safe in capacities : 14.1L; 19.8L; 28.3L and 40L. The 14.1L safe is a hotel-style safe-box with internal dimensions of 34.5 x 22 x 24cm; the largest, 40L, safe measures (internally) 42.7 x 30.8 x 26.7cm (L x W x D). All models are steel-constructed with a shelf and a carpeted floor and are supplied with four bolts for floor or wall mounting. The ‘Basics’ safe is equipped with a programmable electronic lock, with two override keys, and is finished in a black enamel paint. The keypad’s LED window indicates ‘locked’ ‘unlocked’ and ‘low battery’ (the lock requires the installation of 4 x AA batteries that are not supplied with the safe). Amazon Basics Safes are not fireproof but provide basic security for valuables and offer good value for their price, in keeping with the ethos of the brand.
Kingavon SAFE28 Electronic Safe
The Kingavon is a larger, steel-walled safe with a programmable electronic lock and two back-up keys. It has two removable shelves and a floor liner and can easily accommodate A4 binders, standing upright. The exterior has a powder-coated finish and measures 35 x 50 x 31cm; the interior dimensions are 34.6 x cm x 26cm (W x H x D). The SAFE28 can be bolted to the floor or wall using two (supplied) bolts and the lock uses four AA batteries that are included with the purchase. This is not a fireproof safe but it is sturdy (weighing 18kg) and its capacity makes it appropriate for any buyer seeking a place to secure confidential files and documents as well as smaller high-value items.
Chubb Elements Air 15E Keypad Safe
Chubb has an excellent reputation for supplying safes and secure filing cabinets to commercial buyers. The Elements Air 15E is a high-quality, hotel-style safe for home use, with an electronic keypad-lock. It is built from stainless steel and weighs a solid 10kg. Two back-up keys and fixing hardware are included. The safe measures 25 x 35 x 25cm on the outside; the interior dimensions are 24 x 34 x 20cm (H x W x D). The interior has a removable shelf and can easily accommodate A4 files, laying flat. Properly installed, this is a tough, home lock-box that will deter all but the most determined burglar.
Rottner Sydney 40 Fire Safe
Rottner, founded in 1971, is a reputable, Austrian manufacturer with direct representation across Europe. The Sydney 40 is a small, fireproof safe that can protect contents from direct heat for up to one hour (the manufacturer cites ‘testing to LFS 60 p standard, in accordance with EN 15659). It has steel double-walls filled with fire-resistant concrete and weighs 38kg; it is designed to be floor-secured, using the (included) bolt-down kit. The programmable, electronic keypad requires four AAA batteries. The internal size is constrained by the thick walls and is useful rather than capacious: the interior volume is 21 litres based on measurements of 21 x 34 x 29cm versus exterior measurements of 32 x 34 x 29cm (H x W x D). The ’40’ is the smallest of Rottner’s Sydney range which includes three larger sizes (the 55, 65 and 140) with similar fire and security specifications. This is a solid pick at a great price for buyers seeking good fire protection and security for a limited quantity of papers and valuables.
Phoenix Titan Fire Safe with Key Lock
Phoenix began life in 1799 in Liverpool as the Richmond Safe Company and has a venerable history as a manufacturer and vendor of safes and security appliances. The ‘Titan’ model is offered in small, medium and large versions; the ‘small’ is a good-sized, hotel-safe-style fireproof box with exterior measurements of 36.3 x 41.2 x 36 cm and an internal capacity of 19 litres (internal dimensions : 26 x 32 x 23.4cm; H x W x D). The lock is a simple key-operated mechanism and the manufacturer describes independent, third-party testing to US and European standards to demonstrate 60 minute fire-protection of both papers and digital media. Floor-fixing hardware is supplied with the safe. We like the convenient, height-adjustable shelf-drawer and the internal key hooks on the inside of the door for secure hanging of spare car and house keys. The safe is finished in a white powder-coating to give a more modern look, and this is another strong choice for a fireproof home-safe at a feasible price.