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You do a lot to keep your home safe and secure. You probably lock the doors every time you leave, and you most likely use deadbolts when you’re home for the night. You may have a security system, and you might even use a smartphone app to keep an eye on your house when you’re away.
But like many people, you may want additional protection for the valuables inside your home. A wall safe is a great addition to your home security strategy.
In addition to protecting valuable items and important documents from theft, a good wall safe can shield your valuables from fire.
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Consult our product matrix to find the best wall safes, or read the product guide below to learn about key wall safe features.
Preparing ahead of time will ensure you get the best results from your wall safe purchase.
A wall safe needs to be hidden from view, but it also should be convenient to access. Otherwise, you might not use it as often as you should.
Holding capacity varies from one wall safe model to another. Think about what you want to place inside the safe. Choose one that fits all of those items with some free space for later additions. The interior of a wall safe is usually measured in cubic feet.
Determine the maximum size wall safe you can fit into the locations you’ve picked. This is where having multiple potential locations can help you; if one location cannot accommodate the safe size you want, another might. Usually, a wall safe will be anchored to wall studs.
If your walls aren’t deep enough to install the safe you want, you still have options. Consider placing the safe in a wall that backs into an out-of-view area, like a closet. Because the back of the safe will extend into the closet, you can purchase a larger safe. You can also frame the area around the back of the wall safe to hide it from view.
Install a wall safe where it’s not clearly visible yet easy to access.
The variety of ratings and rating systems can make choosing a wall safe tricky. Some models receive an independent rating from Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Products with UL ratings will display the letters “UL” inside a circle. UL provides independent, verified testing methods for many different products.
Here are a few of the UL ratings specific to wall safes —
To protect valuables from fire, store them in a highly rated fire box inside your wall safe.
Class 150: A Class 150 rating from UL also refers to fire resistance. The interior of the safe must remain 150°F or less during testing and for one or two hours after. This will protect recording tapes and 35mm slides.
Class 350: During UL testing of safes for fire resistance, some units receive a Class 350 rating. During and after the heating process, the interior of the safe must remain at 350°F or less. Safes with this rating will protect paper, which burns at about 410°F. Class 350 safes are rated for 30 minutes, one hour, or two hours.
RSC Rating: The RSC (Residential Security Container) designation indicates that the safe’s lock proved impervious to common tools for five minutes when tested by UL.
Pick a wall safe made of solid steel for the highest level of protection.
TL-15 / ER Rating: To receive TL-15 or ER rating, a safe must be constructed of solid steel at least one inch thick on all sides. Also, the lock must withstand common tools for at least 15 minutes.
TL-30 / F Rating: A TL-30 (or F-rated) safe must also boast one inch stainless steel or greater, but the lock must survive 30 minutes of assault with common burglary tools.
TL-30X6 / G&A Rating: A safe with TL-30X6 or G&A rating is constructed from the same material as a TL-30 or TL-15 safe. The lock must withstand tampering for 30 minutes, just as with a TL-30 safe. Additionally, this rating focuses on the sides of the safe. Each side must remain intact after 30 minutes of tampering.
Some wall safe ratings do not originate with UL. Instead, these ratings are defined by the safe manufacturers themselves or by other testing laboratories. These ratings are accepted in the industry, but they may not be as consistent as UL ratings.
B Rating: A safe with a B rating has up to a 0.25-inch thick body and a 0.5-inch thick door. No restrictions are placed on the materials in the locking mechanism of the safe.
C Rating: A safe with a C rating has up to a 0.5-inch thick body and a 1-inch thick door. To earn a C rating, the safe must include a secondary locking device. This lock activates if someone tampers with the primary lock.
E Rating: A safe with an E rating is similar to the UL TL-15 rating but has not undergone UL testing.
The minimum required thickness of a safe’s walls is 0.5 inches. The door must be at least 0.25 inches thick.
Wall safes come with a variety of locks. The lock design you should choose comes down to personal preference. Don’t select a lock because it seems more resistant to burglars; with enough time, a burglar can defeat any kind of lock. Instead, select the lock that’s easiest for you to use.
Biometric: A biometric lock opens via fingerprint scan. This is the fastest mechanism for opening a safe.
Dial: This is the traditional dial lock commonly seen in movies, but it’s not available on many wall safes today.
Key: A key lock is typically a backup mechanism, used in combination with another type of lock.
Wall safes are designed to anchor to wall studs. If your wall safe is not anchored, a burglar could simply take the entire safe.
Keypad: A keypad lock requires that you enter a numeric code to open the safe. This is the most common locking mechanism on a wall safe for at-home use.
Combination: Some safes employ multiple locks. For example, you might use a keypad code and a fingerprint reader to open the safe. Some models allow you to open the safe with either mechanism, rather than requiring both.
Some combination safes include a re-locking mechanism. This means the safe has a secondary lock that activates if someone tampers with the primary lock. Once the re-locking mechanism is activated, the only way to open the safe is to have it professionally drilled. When considering a combination, determine whether it includes a re-locking mechanism to ensure you get the features you want.
Re-lock mechanisms afford additional protection against intrusion. When triggered by someone tampering with the primary lock, a re-locking device permanently secures the safe.
Many factors influence the price of a wall safe. Thicker doors and walls cost more. Higher capacity is also more expensive, and features such as re-locking mechanisms can increase the price, too.
A budget-priced wall safe costs anywhere between $50 and $150. Some parts of the safe will be plastic or sheet steel, rather than solid steel.
Purchase a wall safe bigger than what you need. This allows for adding more items later.
Expect to pay $150 to $300 for a mid-range wall safe. You may find some large wall safes in this price point. However, large safes in this range will probably lack solid steel construction. They’ll use sheet metal as the primary construction material.
With price tags exceeding $300, you should expect solid steel construction. They’ll often have greater capacity, and they should offer re-locking mechanisms.
Q. What would I put in a wall safe? I don’t really own anything valuable.
A. Wall safes can protect possessions with high monetary value, such as jewelry or cash. But they’re also used to protect items with emotional value, such as photo albums or copies of digital photos. You might also use a safe to safeguard irreplaceable family heirlooms. In addition to protecting these items from theft, a wall safe helps protect them from fire.
Q. How large of a wall safe do I need?
A. Customer reviews of wall safes indicate that bigger is better. Customers tend to wish that they had purchased a larger wall safe. We suggest that you identify what you’ll put in the wall safe initially, identify the appropriate size for those items, then purchase a wall safe one or two sizes larger.
Q. What kind of depth measurement should my wall safe have?
A. The installation location determines the maximum depth of your wall safe. You could be limited to a depth as shallow as three inches based on the thickness of your walls. You may want to place the safe in a location where the back can extend into a closet, then build a frame around the back of the safe to hide it.
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