The best home safes to protect your valuables
As faith in financial institutions has eroded, many people have turned to home safes to store valuable documents, jewelry and even cash. There are several types to choose from. The best choice for you depends on how much you are willing to spend and how much trouble you are willing to go through to install the safe. In order of increasing protection…
Diversion safes. Convenient and economical, these are small safes that masquerade as common household items, such as food jars, candles and even flowerpots. Priced from about $11 to about $35, they’re reasonably effective for hiding small amounts of cash and small valuables, such as jewelry or credit cards. If you choose a diversion safe with a label — a jar of peanut butter, for instance— make sure that it looks like a well-known brand, and store it where the real product would actually belong. Sellers include Security Wizard (www.security-wizard.net) and Diversion Safes Online (www.diversionsafesonline.com).
Wall safes. Wall safes create much of their security with concealment— they’re often mounted behind a picture or a mirror. They are usually attached to wall studs and are easy for handy home owners to install. A thief who finds a wall safe and has plenty of time could pry it out with a claw hammer. Most are water resistant but not fireproof, so shop carefully to find the level of protection you want. Recommended: Perma-Vault WS-100-4-M, key-operated, $189… Cobalt EW03, code plus key security, $229.
Burglary safes. These are essentially steel boxes that are bolted down to concrete slabs. The amount of security and cost depend on how much metal they contain. A good value is a “B-rated” safe, which meets insurance standards set by the Underwriters Laboratories — ½-inch steel in the door, ¼-inch steel in the body and drill-resistant plates around the lock. Installation costs about $150 to $300. Such safes may or may not be fireproof. Recommended: Cobalt S838C, 1.2 cubic feet, 128 pounds, $430. Larger: Mutual RS5, 10 cubic feet, 600 pounds, $1,056. (Discount sellers may charge less.)
Fireproof safes are especially desirable in areas prone to wildfires or earthquakes, and are rated and priced according to how long they can withstand temperatures of 1,250° F to 1,700° F. They generally do not bolt to the floor and are not recommended against theft. Recommended: Honeywell 2087 fire safe, 0.87 cubic feet, $275.
Floor safes reside in the ground under your floor or in the backyard and can be set in concrete — so they are both hidden and tough to move. Recommended: Amsec B1500 floor safe, 1,377 cubic inches, about $420.
Jewelry safes. These are designed to resist sophisticated safecrackers, are bolted down to concrete slabs and are fire-rated. The smallest weighs around 500 pounds, so installation is expensive, starting at $300. Recommended: Hayman MV15-2016, 610 pounds, 2.28 cubic foot interior, $1,498.