Home Safe...Looking for advice

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
Oilcans
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 12:50 pm

Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by Oilcans »

:oops: I am considering buying a safe for my home and am finding there are so many brands and different kinds available. Am looking at maybe a 2.0 cubic foot one, water resistant, 2 hour fire protection.

Would appreciate any recommendations.

Thanks.
GCD
Posts: 1171
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:11 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by GCD »

Rather than link to all of them, I'll just suggest searching "break into a safe" on youtube. Obviuously a cheap one isn't very useful. Also, anything small enough to be taken off premises is not useful.

It depends on what you are protecting against. Fire, theft?

In the range of the small, 2 hour fire protection, portable safes you aren't going to get much protection.

Could you be explicit in what you are concerned about?

- What are you protecting?
- Who is going to steal it and why?
- What non-human threats are you concerned about?
- What is your budget?

We have a safe like you described. We keep it inside our real safe for a little extra fire protection. As a stand alone unit I wouldn't have bothered buying it.
User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 7005
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by Kenkat »

What do you want to put in it? Are you looking for fire protection, theft protection? Many of the common fire safes you see are pretty easy to break into with some basic tools. If you want something to protect against theft beyond the basics, you may want something TL rated that can be bolted down.
User avatar
fortfun
Posts: 2885
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:31 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by fortfun »

We've got this one for records that we cannot replace easily and a small amount of cash. I'm pleased with it:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/SentrySafe-S ... 10&veh=aff
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 21802
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by Watty »

Oilcans wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 6:24 pm ....2 hour fire protection.
Be sure to look into this. As I recall the way fire protection works for some safes is that the walls contain a material that releases a lot of water when it gets hot. The water drenches the contents of the safe so it does not burn.

This can be a problem with things like computer backups and many things that are printed with an inkjet printer use water soluble ink.
BobTexas
Posts: 149
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:56 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by BobTexas »

Oilcans wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 6:24 pm :oops: I am considering buying a safe for my home and am finding there are so many brands and different kinds available. Am looking at maybe a 2.0 cubic foot one, water resistant, 2 hour fire protection.

I got this one from Amazon. It’s a step up from the Sentry type safes. Very heavy, and you can have it bolted to the floor. It has a combination, and you have to have the key also. My sister had an electronic keypad safe and let the batteries die and had a hard time getting into it.

I like this and would recommend it

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0090 ... UTF8&psc=1
Topic Author
Oilcans
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 12:50 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by Oilcans »

Thanks everyone for your advice.

My main priority is for fire, then maybe water and lastly theft. I plan to pay as high as $600.00. Need one that is fairly large for storage of important documents, the last few years of tax returns, jewelry, etc.
skierrex
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:03 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by skierrex »

home safes are not very 'safe' for most things.
If there is a fire, your safe turns in to a 600 degree oven. All your documents are toast.
If it doesn't weigh a LOT, like 800 pounds, it's easy for teenagers to carry off.
A small home safe is used for NOT getting shot with your own gun. Make them carry your safe far away to get your gun out of it. I wouldn't even bolt it down.
Consider keeping a safety deposit box at the bank.
inbox788
Posts: 7897
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by inbox788 »

skierrex wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 11:39 pm home safes are not very 'safe' for most things.
If there is a fire, your safe turns in to a 600 degree oven. All your documents are toast.
If it doesn't weigh a LOT, like 800 pounds, it's easy for teenagers to carry off.
A small home safe is used for NOT getting shot with your own gun. Make them carry your safe far away to get your gun out of it. I wouldn't even bolt it down.
Consider keeping a safety deposit box at the bank.
I have both a smallish safe and a safe deposit box, but I can't get myself organized to put important stuff in there. Tax forms and other documents I've realized are all online now, so I just keep a list of where to replace what's needed if it ever gets destroyed. Used to track account number and more detail, but now it's just a simple list of company and type of account. If needed, they can lookup the accounts somehow. Aside from passports and some convenience documents, and a little bit of emergency cash, there's very little in the safe. It's not even bolted down, though it's quite heavy.

I went with a mechanical combination because I didn't want to deal with dead batteries. Reminds me, I should put the combination and some passwords in the safe deposit box. I've been meaning to put a USB with tax forms and other documents in the safe and/or safe deposit box, but that's been challenging getting to it, so for the most part I've been doing more in the cloud and taking my chances of getting hacked vs. not having it if something ever went wrong. I don't have anything unusually valuable that I'm worried about, and I suspect the criminals are finding easier ways than dealing with these measure I can't manage well myself.

The safe deposit box is free with my account, and if they ever charged me for it, I'll probably just close out the account, since neither is serving much of a useful purpose. I've thought about simplifying and just closing it out at some point anyway, which is always on the chopping block but seems to be spared.
JTColton
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:41 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by JTColton »

Watty wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 7:15 pm
Oilcans wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 6:24 pm ....2 hour fire protection.
Be sure to look into this. As I recall the way fire protection works for some safes is that the walls contain a material that releases a lot of water when it gets hot. The water drenches the contents of the safe so it does not burn.

This can be a problem with things like computer backups and many things that are printed with an inkjet printer use water soluble ink.
Almost, the steam is a byproduct of calcination of the water in the insulation. The insulation is either gypsum board or a type of wet cement, both of which hold a certain percentage of water in their masses. Since energy can't be destroyed and only changes forms, during a fire the insulation "absorbs" heat energy from the fire by transferring this water into positive steam pressure. This merely buys you time.

If these papers and jewelry and possessions are so important wouldn't you want to give it adequate protection? I'd recommend an AMSEC BF series with a plate steel door and poured cement insulation, both superior construction details that add weight and cost. I'd also bolt it down in an out of the way place or even construct a "hide" or fake wall to camouflage it. Place documents in Ziploc bags or Tupperware to prevent damage.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 12779
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona
Contact:

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by Sandtrap »

Base your search on your priorities . . . and probabilities.

Fire: what are the odds of fire? How long is the fire dept response time?
Location: where will the safe be located in your home? If a fire, would it be easy to put it out in that area?
Water/Moisture: will the safe be damaged or contents be spoiled if there's a home water leak or flood?
Theft: what are the odds of theft? Are you in a low crime area? Etc.
Internal Theft: what are the odds that anyone or their friends that have access to your home, robbing you?
Contents: what is the safe going to have in it? Paper? Computer memory? Cash? Firearms? (the larger the better)
. . . .safes are like closets, they fill up and you always need a bigger one.
. . . as stated earlier, cheaper gypsum filled safes emit steam and moisture in a fire so paper and electronic contents may be damaged.
Cost: Can you afford to get the best safe for the purpose?

A neighbor's very large McMansion was completely burned/destroyed from a fire caused by lighting. Nobody was home. He had 3 very large high end expensive large safes in 3 locations. Only 1 safe survived.
Last edited by Sandtrap on Fri May 10, 2019 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
SimonJester
Posts: 2242
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by SimonJester »

Another things people often overlook when selecting safes, when you have a house fire there is a LOT of water put into your house. Your fireproof safe also needs to be water proof as well. If the house burns long enough, the safe will melt, we saw this when a forest fire ran into town and burned hundreds of houses. None of the safe's survived, heck the water and gas meters vaporized as well in many cases...

So my point, insure what ever you really care about, and use the safe to deter the local neighborhood kids from running off with the contents.
But be sure to BOLT it down...
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
btenny
Posts: 5552
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by btenny »

I live in Tahoe part time. We had a giant forest fire in 2007. Several friends lost their homes. All the safes melted and went away. One friend lost all her jewelry and there was no metal blob to find.

So I recommend a nice safe deposit box at the bank. It is inside a cement and steel vault. It is really fire proof. It has a sprinkler system. If you get one close to your house it is convenient. I also recommend you digitize all your pictures and documents and put a backup copy of this data in the deposit box.

Get a gun safe to keep the kids away if necessary.

Good Luck.
rj342
Posts: 726
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:21 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by rj342 »

I can personally attest to the safe-too-small issue.

Back in the 90s we had a small locking Sentry fire safe, really just more of a document box really. No real valuables, just a few old savings bonds - it was mainly for important documents. I would even leave the key in it since only concern was fire, thought even passed my mind burglar might see nothing in there and leave stuff alone.

Had a daytime burglary, apparently in conjunction w ppl coming and going for another wave of construction expanding neighborhood. Thieves in a hurry, didnt use key to open, just humped the damn thing to their car (driveway goes behind house to load up more hidden).

Have a small safety deposit box at a nearby WF branch now
darrvao777
Posts: 285
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:34 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by darrvao777 »

Obvious as well, I would install it yourself and let as few people know about it as possible

Even if it doesn't contain anything super valuable, people may get the wrong idea

Not as common anymore but hiring people to deliver and install the safe is a big no no in my book
-ryan-
Posts: 118
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:14 am

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by -ryan- »

darrvao777 wrote: Fri May 10, 2019 12:43 pm Obvious as well, I would install it yourself and let as few people know about it as possible

Even if it doesn't contain anything super valuable, people may get the wrong idea

Not as common anymore but hiring people to deliver and install the safe is a big no no in my book
My safe is about 1000lbs and had to go down a flight of stairs, so I had to hire out. Something small, up to 400 pounds, going on the first floor of a home is pretty easy for most people to do themselves with the right handcart.

I used to sell safes, and what I told everyone interested in buying a safe is that it is only designed to buy you some time. That goes for fire or burglary. There was no safe line we had available to us that would survive an exceptionally long or hot burn, or a very determined thief.

For the record, people generally believe mechanical dials were 'safer' (harder to defeat) than electronic locks, and I don't feel that is the case. We occasionally had mechanical dial safes come in where the combination the company sent with the safe was, for whatever reason, not correct. There was a locksmith we would call. He didn't even use a stethoscope, and he would get in the safe on the first try, write the combination down, and be out the door again in a matter of minutes. This was on $3,000-5,000 safes. It was incredible to watch, but also a little scary!
80125
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 9:11 pm
Location: CO

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by 80125 »

Oilcans wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 8:00 pm"...main priority is for fire, then maybe water and lastly theft. I plan to pay as high as $600.00. Need one that is fairly large..."
Your not going to get reasonable fire/water protection and/or large (coupled with any acceptable level of theft deterrence) at that budget-level. Based on your priorities, and as noted in replies up-thread, go with off-site for your needs.

That said, if you want a true safe (not an RSC) cheap[er] options are available on the secondary market and deals can be found, look for a reputable long-term pro/shop in you area and they'll work with you. I'm partial to Brown Safe, have more than one. Select AMSEC models, Chubb and a plethora of others, including boutique builders, should be considered but you'll need to shy away from these and the high-end at your price-point. Good RSC's are available from Sturdy as an alternative.

Add-on; premise installation location is critical, always bolt-down, mechanical dial vs electronic both have pros-n-cons depending on intended use - I prefer mechanical all-day long but have electronic on one unit for rapid access requirements, bolt work matters, TL-15 at a minimum but B-rate has its place on the lower-end, weight is king and like your portfolio, size matters, more is always better. At the end of the day, if somebody is determined to get your stuff, they'll get it (layers).

Again for you, off-site. A $600 box with a lock on it is a waste of $600.
--cbu
Ykcor
Posts: 243
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:42 am

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by Ykcor »

skierrex wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 11:39 pm home safes are not very 'safe' for most things.
If there is a fire, your safe turns in to a 600 degree oven. All your documents are toast.
If it doesn't weigh a LOT, like 800 pounds, it's easy for teenagers to carry off.
A small home safe is used for NOT getting shot with your own gun. Make them carry your safe far away to get your gun out of it. I wouldn't even bolt it down.
Consider keeping a safety deposit box at the bank.
I got tired of paying $69 a year for a bank safety deposit box that I never used except to keep a few deeds and a handful of I-bonds. When our bank was taken over by Regions Bank they started charging plus a late fee if late on payment. All the years I've banked with them and have regrettably kept fairly large balances plus used them for home mortgages. The inertia of not doing something this late in life keeps me from going to another bank.
JTColton
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:41 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by JTColton »

darrvao777 wrote: Fri May 10, 2019 12:43 pm Not as common anymore but hiring people to deliver and install the safe is a big no no in my book
This type of FUD can cause some big issues. If you're hiring some guys from Home Depot to "install" a sheet metal box, probably not a good idea. But when you start talking real safes like letter rated (B, C, D) or TL safes that start at 1000lbs and can kill you or cause significant structural damage to your house then it's better left to a pro. By pro I mean a dedicated safe installer that is licensed and bonded to operate in your state and has a long history in your area. A big city usually has at least a couple to service bank and jewelry store vaults.
megabad
Posts: 3618
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:00 pm

Re: Home Safe...Looking for advice

Post by megabad »

skierrex wrote: Thu May 09, 2019 11:39 pm home safes are not very 'safe' for most things.
Consider keeping a safety deposit box at the bank.
+1. I will stick with my 24/7 security, sprinkler system equipped, gargantuan steel door and two factor/key system. At a few dollars a month, it is hard to beat a safety deposit box. For everything else document wise, I pretty much just make multiple copies so a fire would have to strike multiple places simultaneously to cause any real damage to documents stored there. Obviously, if I had valuables other than documents, say jewelry, this wouldn't help much. However, I can insure jewelry so I don't worry much about that. One of my relatives has a giant FireKing file cabinet, but even it is only rated for 1 hour. I have never heard of anything residential grade rated at 2 hours, but there may be something out there. However, I would think this would be a very very heavy safe.
Post Reply