This chart compares top burglary and fire safes from popular manufactures.
The comparison focuses on the fundamental features of a safe that matter most ...burglary protection and fire protection.
Rather than attempt to unravel outlandish claims and bogus ratings, this chart cuts straight to the core of each safes true abilities by simply comparing raw facts using the same units of measure for all safes. The following descriptions explain the importance of each comparison category and what to look for in each.
Dimensions: This establishes the size of each safe. Important only to ensure safes of similar sizes are being compared.
The important size to look for is the inner dimension as this defines the amount of usable storage capacity. Unfortunately, many of the builders do not provide this information freely so looking at the outside dimension is the next best area of comparison.
While we've done our best to compare similarly sized safes, there still is a degree of variation so it's important to take size into account when comparing other figures.
Safe Weight: Weight is the number one factor in determining a safes ability to protect from both fire and theft.
The best fire protection comes from cladding the safe in a dense layer of solid poured composite amalgamate material, which is roughly the same weight as high-density concrete. Fireboard, on the other hand, is a relatively light material. An inferior fireboard safe is easily identified by simply noting the safes low weight.
Protective steel plating is by far the heaviest and most expensive component of a quality safe, accounting for at least half of the safes overall weight. The thicker the steel, the heavier the safe.
The best safes for both fire and burglary are easy to spot as they weigh many times more than thin steel fireboard safes. These heavyweights are infinitely more capable safes, comparing their capabilities to the lighter models is like comparing an indy car to a go-kart.
Most safes provide some form of fire protection with little to no burglary protection. Few safes provide both forms of protection, to learn why click here.
Steel Thickness: This highly significant category is simple to interpret, the higher the number, the more core burglary protection the safe will provide.
If you care about burglary protection, as 95% of buyers do, do not consider a safe with anything less than a half inch (0.50") solid door steel, and quarter inch (0.25") walls.
Bear in mind, all fire safes have thick robust looking doors, but only a small fraction of that door is actual steel. Most of the door, especially on less expensive safes, is comprised of fireboard wrapped in ultra thin sheet metal. Click here to learn more about these false doors.
If a safe is heavy, it doesn't mean it has a lot of steel. There's a good chance this weight comes from the the composite material which is far less expensive on the builders budget. Bottom line, always find out how much real solid steel plating a safe has prior to purchase.
Firewall type and Thickness: Marketing hogwash aside, look at these two figures to reveal how much the fire safe is truly a fire safe.
A safe with composite cladded firewalls provides superior fire protection over all other firewall types, usually vastly superior fire protection.
That being said, some multi-layered insulation/Fireboard safes can provide adequate fire protection by replacing most of the steel walls and support structure with a plastic or other non-conductive structure, but use of these materials yields a safe that affords no burglary protection at all.
Insulation/fireboats also contain a lot of moisture for increased fire resistance. This excessive moisture tends to make its way into the safes interior creating a constantly damp environment inside the safe during normal storage, causing metal items within the safe to rust and paper and photo based items to wilt.
Once you know the type of firewall being used, a simple look at the walls listed thickness gives you a very good idea of that safes true level of fire protection. A 2.5 inch thick composite cladded safe is considered the king of the hill for fire protection, however even composites have major variance in their ability to fight heat. Points of heat transfer and steel location play a major role ... click here for more info.