Home Safes

Saturday, 18 November 2006 | Tags: , , , ,

Home safes give you peace of mind by protecting your valuables from theft and the potential threat of fire. We find out if home safes in fact keep things safe!

The Basics

  • The quality of the safe should be relative to the valuables stored inside.

  • Most safes are designed to protect contents from burglars. Some are designed to be fire resistant. Combination safes are designed to do both.

  • The size of safe you choose is dependent on what you want to keep in it. Consider the largest item and then add on about 25-50% to accommodate other valuables.

  • Make sure it has a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) stamp, which means it passed the necessary tests. This coding system indicates how long a safe resists various forms of attack, and varies from 10 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Other designations to consider:

    • DR = drill resistant

    • TL = tool resistant

    • TR = torch resistant

    • TL – TR = both tool and torch resistant

    • X6 = reserved for banks and jewellers

  • Make sure that the door fits really tightly into the frame of the safe, making it harder for the door to be pried open.

Other Considerations

  • Some safes look like the stereotypical black or silver boxes. Others are designed to be hiding spots, camouflaged as common household item like books, candles and pop cans, and are often neither lockable or fire resistant.

  • Composite safes are harder to penetrate and more expensive; they’re made from a combination of solid steel and composite fill materials such as concrete.


We looked at these five safes to test which protects home valuables the best:

  • Sentry (fire resistant): $160
  • Gardex (fire resistant): $1250
  • Rhino (burglar proof): $250
  • Amsec (composite burglar & fire proof ): $4500
  • Eagle (composite burglar & fire proof ): $750

Our tests and results include:

Fire Test

Three of our fire resistant/proof were subjected to 1100 F for 15 minutes. (The 2000 pound Amsec was too difficult to move into the incinerator.)

  • The Eagle fared the best with objects we placed inside none the worse for wear.

  • The insides of the Sentry definitely showed signs of reaching its melting point.

Burglar Test

We hired an expert safe cracker to break into our burglar-proof safes.

  • Our expert was able to open the Rhino without much effort

  • Our expert said the Amsec would be a difficult safe to break for most burglars, and didn’t even try.


You can pay a lot for your own Fort Knox, but for a deterrent that will do a reasonable job keeping your valuables protected from fire and theft, the Eagle is a good place to start.



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