Which fire safe is best?
There’s no such thing as a safe that protects everything. Even bank vaults can have their contents stolen. The average home safe only keeps valuables in place on a small scale. If the safe is exposed to a flood or flames, your items can be ruined. If you’re most worried about a fire breaking out, purchase a fire safe.
The best all-around fire safe is the Amazon Basics Fire-Resistant Security Safe. You’ll need a costlier safe to protect against extreme fires, but your items will be protected from average accidents.
What to know before you buy a fire safe
Fire safes use one or a combination of lock types.
- Mechanical locks use keys to access the safe. These are minimally secure as anyone with the key or sufficient lock-picking skills can take your items.
- Code locks usually use digital keypads though a few still use mechanical dials. They’re the most common lock type.
- Advanced locks use methods such as fingerprint or retinal scanning to unlock. These are ultra-secure but equally expensive.
Size and storage capacity
Fire safes come in all shapes, sizes and storage capacities. The size and capacity rarely align due to various aspects of construction, including wall thickness. Consider what you need to store and how much space you have to stash your safe before purchasing.
What to look for in a quality fire safe
How protective a fire safe is against the flame is stated in a mix of three aspects: time and temperatures external and internal. Some safes only list one or two of these aspects in the product description. The given aspects are usually close estimates. Every fire is different, so your items may be fine in conditions lesser or greater than what’s given.
- Time: Most safes are protective for 20 to 30 minutes. Better safes can be protective for one to two hours.
- External temperature: Most safes are built to handle external temperatures of 1,000 to 1,500 degrees. The best safes can handle up to 2,000 degrees. For perspective, burning buildings can reach up to 2,000 degrees.
- Internal temperature: During a fire, most safes maintain internal temperatures of 350 to 150 degrees. The best safes maintain internal temperatures of 100 degrees or less. For perspective: paper documents combust at 350 degrees, digital storage devices begin degrading at 245 degrees and magnetic storage devices and filmstock begin degrading at 125 degrees.
The best fire safes are submitted by the manufacturer to independent labs for testing. The most recognized lab is Underwriters Laboratories — UL-certified safes are the best of the best.
Well-rounded fire safes also offer degrees of water-resistance or waterproofing. Look for this aspect in the product description. Fair warning, these safes are usually more expensive.
How much you can expect to spend on a fire safe
Basic fire safes with minimum serviceable protection usually cost $200 or less. The safes with the highest protection ratings start around $500 and reach highs of $1,000-plus. The average safe costs $200-$500.
Fire safe FAQ
Is there a way to get into my safe if I forget its combination?
A. Most safes have a few methods of regaining entry if the main entry method is forgotten or lost. Coded safes usually have an additional mechanical lock that an included key can open; this method admittedly adds a point of vulnerability. Most safes also have override codes, and you’ll need to contact the manufacturer and provide proof of ownership to receive it. Avoid these issues by choosing an easily remembered sequence, not sequential numbers or a birthday.
Is it a bad idea to buy a fire safe with wheels?
A. Not necessarily. Like any other safe, wheeled options have pros and cons. They are easy to move between locations as needed (even if you want to move from room to room about your home) but are equally easy to be taken out of your possession.
What’s the best fire safe to buy?
Top fire safe
What you need to know: This is more than capable of protecting against average hazards.
What you’ll love: It’s made of steel for high durability. It includes an emergency key in case of forgotten passcode. It has an internal shelf. A bolting kit for securing it to the floor is included. It’s available with .83, 1.24 or 2.1 cubic feet of storage.
What you should consider: It’s only fire-resistant for roughly 20 minutes. Water easily breaches its loose sealing door. The keypad is plastic and will wear down over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top fire safe for the money
What you need to know: This is practically free but offers only minimal protection.
What you’ll love: It includes two keys. It has a foam-padded floor for fragile items. It has fire-resistant insulation. It offers .17 cubic feet of storage. It’s small and light enough to be moved as needed and hidden easily. Its hinge is hidden for protection.
What you should consider: It offers no water-resistance. It only resists the heat of fire. It will not protect items if in direct contact with flame.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This pick offers high resistance and recesses into the wall.
What you’ll love: It protects against fire for up to 30 minutes. The keypad is flush against the safe to hide behind objects and has a hidden mechanical lock if the passcode is forgotten. It includes two keys. It has .75 cubic feet of storage.
What you should consider: It’s among the costlier safes. Walls must be 8 inches deep for the safe to sit flush. It can be installed in thinner walls but will poke outward.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.