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Residential safe made of steel and with a keypad lock.

How to Choose the Best Safe for Your Home

A safe can provide excellent protection for your valuables. There are many safes out there, but it can be difficult choosing the right one. To get the best safe for your needs, you must consider several different factors.

What Protections Do You Need?

There are three main things that a safe can protects against – burglary, fire and water. The safes available on the market offer a different level of protection against each threat.

Fire Resistance

Safes cannot be 100% fireproof, but they can be insulated to protect items inside from combustion for a certain length of time. The contents that you plan to store in the safe will help you select the best one. For examples, paper must be kept below 350°, while DVDs need to be kept below 125°.

Fire resistance is measured in hours, with most home safes providing protection for half an hour. For regular residential use, 30 minutes should be sufficient. Yet longer fire rating times are available for a higher price.

Water Resistance

Most safes that offer both burglary and theft resistance are also waterproof to some extent, but you should ensure that this is part of the package. This is an important feature because firefighters and building sprinklers will likely be used to extinguish a fire. This type of protection should also help safeguard the contents in case of a flood.

Burglary Protection

There are two main factors to burglary protection – locking systems and steel thickness. A combination lock is the preferred system for increased security. Though it’s sometimes used as a selling point, the number of locking bolts on the safe doesn’t affect its capacity to resist prying. An excessive number is not really necessary or beneficial.

Steel thickness is the second factor for burglary protection. Steel thickness is measured by gauge, with the smaller number indicating greater thickness. In most cases 12 gauge is sufficient to keep a burglar out of a home safe, but thicker steel gauge is available for higher security.

What to Consider Before Buying a Safe

You also need to determine what you will be doing with the safe: whether you need to be able to move it on your own and how much you plan to store inside.


A large safe requires at least two strong individuals and a dolly to move, while a smaller safe can be picked up by an average adult. If you want to take it with you in case of an emergency or just need to change location, this may be an important factor. Obviously, lighter weight means smaller size. As a consequence, this will limit the interior storage space and what you can store in it.


The easiest way to determine the size of the safe you want is to take everything you want to put in the safe and put it in a pile. Then, measure the cubic area of the possible contents. To do this, measure the length and the width of the pile, then multiply the two numbers. Take the number you get and multiply it by the height of the pile. The total will give you an idea of the safe size needed.

Some people make the mistake of buying a safe that barely holds what they have right now, which is shortsighted. Safe owners almost always grow into their safe, adding items as time goes on. Getting a big enough safe is important if you want to avoid buying another, larger safe later on.


When shopping for the safe, make sure you try to find one from a reputable manufacturer. Not all safes are equal. Look for one that is certified and subject to standardized testing by organizations like Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek. Some solid names in the industry include Gardall and Burg Wachter are known for their quality. Looking over safes available from these companies would be a good place to start.

Order and Installation

At Great Valley Lockshop, we offer high-quality safes for a variety of needs. When you order a safe from our company, it usually takes about a week to arrive. Once we receive the safe, our technicians will install it at your home or business. Professional installation is important, both for your safety and to ensure the safe operates as intended.

Find out more about the Different Types of Residential Safes and the Best Location to Install a Safe in Your Home.

If you are interested in buying a safe, please contact us by calling (610) 644-5334 or fill out our free online estimate request to discuss your requirements. We are here to help you find the perfect safe for your needs.

*Please note that we do not install floor or wall safes.

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