- What different types of safes are on the market?
- What are safes made from?
- What is the best type of safe lock - Key, Combination or Electronic?
- What is a Cash Rating?
- What is a Fire Rating?
- How do you secure a safe in position?
- How do I retrieve a lost combination?
- Where can I find more information on my safe?
There are dozens of different types of safes available on the market. The best way to begin to differentiate them is by the way they are intended to be installed. This can usually be limited to 4 different options: below ground/in floor safes, surface mounted/bolt down safes,wall mounted safes and vaults.
Below ground/In floor safes are purpose built with the intention being to be recessed into a concrete pad, however it is possible to install them into timber floors with some modifications. This means that most of the security features of these safes are dedicated to the door as it is usually the only exposed area of the safe.
Surface mounted/Bolt down safes are the most common variety as they are much more adaptable. The biggest features of these safes are that they can be relocated for use at another property as well as being available in fire resistant models. As the name suggests, they are intended to be secured to the floor or walls by bolts which are usually on the inside of the safe, preventing removal with having access to the safe.
Wall mounted safes are designed to be either bolted to the wall at a more accessible height than that of a surface mounted safe, or to be recessed into the wall to allow extra concealment. These are less common than other types due to the amount of work required to install them. It may be more practical to incorporate the installation of a wall safe into the construction of a new property instead of after construction.
Vaults are generally used in extreme risk applications such as banks, mines and similar situations where more space may be required than a free standing safe. Vaults are usually a dedicated constructed room with a vault door installed at the entry, however some manufacturer offer a vault 'kit' which contains ready to assemble walls and components.
The materials and construction of safes can greatly differ between brands and types of safes, and will usually depend on the intended use of the safes. For example, a surface mounted safe that is intended for low value protection may use thin gauge steel in the body of the safe, while high security safes will use a combination of several materials like hard plate steel and concrete. It is very important to look at what materials are used in the construction of a safe as these materials can provide extra features such as fire resistance.
There is no set rule as to what type of safe lock is better than another. Each type of lock has it's own intended uses and may be more suitable than the others in particular applications.
Key locks are the oldest type of lock used on safes and are very simple in their function. The key simply unlocks and locks the safe for access. There are many things to consider with a key lock safe such as the possibility of losing the key and having someone find it or the inability to provide someone with access to the safe without first giving them the key.
Combination locks, commonly referred to as tumblers are a very effective design of safe lock that allows the users to access a safe without needing to carry a key. In most cases, they are able to be reset to a combination of your choice and will usually have a particular method of dialing the code. There are typically 2 main variations of combination locks, 3 wheel combination locks and 4 wheel combination locks. The 'wheels' are the moving part inside the lock which come to align when the correct combination is dialed. The number of wheels in the lock determines the amount of numbers in the combination.
Electronic or Digital locks are currently the most popular type of lock used on safes. This is generally because they offer the simplest method of entering the code required to open the safe. As with any product, there are different qualities and levels of security offered in electronic locks, from the simple press button locks to the highly sophisticated biometric locks. It is important to understand the features and functions of an electronic lock before deciding on the most suitable option, as there are many 'cheap' electronic safe locks which can be easily manipulated open.
A cash rating is a currency value that an insurance company would generally deem acceptable to be secured in a particular safe. Basically, if a safe has a cash rating of $20,000, then it would be sufficient for the insurance company to provide you cover against the theft of that money. In saying this, you should always check with your insurance company before making any decisions.
The basic principles behind the cash rating system is the higher value the rating, the more time and equipment needed to gain entry to the safe. The other consideration of cash ratings is that they are just that; 'cash' ratings. If you intended purpose is to secure valuables in the safe, then you should be able to increase the rating of the safe. For example, a safe that is rated to $20,000 should be adequate for $40,000 in valuables. These figures are based on the safe being in an 'unsupported situation', meaning that it doesn't take into consideration any other security features of the property such as alarm systems or physical security to the property itself.
Most importantly, these ratings should be used as a guide only and you should seek advice from a licensed security consultant if you need any assistance in selecting the best safe for your requirements.
A fire rating is the term used to indicate the type of testing a particular safe has been subjected to, with the intention of being able to protect items from fire damage. It is important to make the differentiation between the terms 'fire resistant' and 'fire proof'. While many people and products indicate they are 'fire proof', there is really no such thing, there is only fire resistant and the amount of protection offered can only be measured by time.
There are several companies that offer testing and rating services throughout the world and will have some sort of universal codes that easily identify what level of fire protection a particular safe offers.
Generally, a safe that offers fire protection is designed to keep the internal temperature of the safe low enough to protect paper from being destroyed, however if it is a data orientated item that needs protection, you will need to look at specialised data fire safes.