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When someone thinks of storing precious metals bullion in they're home, the first thing that often comes to mind is a Home Safe.
There are three types of home safes on the market today, they include; Fire Proof Safes, Theft Protection Safes and a combination of the two.
Safe Manufactures have also started to produce waterproof safes, because often where there is fire, water isn't far behind.
Generally you will see this classification of safe as an additional option of protection to one of the three different kinds of safes.
One of the first things that should be known about all safes, and that is No Safe is Impenetrable.
Safes are classified either by how long a safe can keep a burglar out or how long it can keep a fire from effecting the contents inside the safe.
What's the Difference from a Fire Safe to an Anti-Burglary Safe?
Fire Protection Safes
Home Safes that are classified as strictly for Fire Protection are usually made of thin sheet metal, hard plastic or with a composite materials with some type of insulation or fire board mounted inside the safe.
When a "Water-Proof" classification is added to a fire safe it means the door of the home safe or any other areas that can be exposed to the outside air have been waterproofed using a seal around these areas.
*Important Note*: Fire Safes usually are not a good anti-burglary unit, unless they are under both classifications; Fire Proof/Anti-Burglary Safe.
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent product safety certification organization. Established in 1894, the company's headquarters is in Northbrook, Illinois.
UL develops standards and test procedures for products, materials, components, assemblies, tools and equipment, chiefly dealing with product safety.
There are many testing companies for safes, but the one that is used the most by the Home Safe Manufacturing industry and Insurance Companies is Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
When a safe passes one of their tests, the Safe is awarded with a specific rating and the manufacturer will mount a label on the safe itself to indicate that it has passed the test.
When searching for the right safe for you, it is always good to look for home safes that have been tested by UL because most insurance companies trust their testing standards.
Underwriters Laboratories Fire Proof Safe Ratings System
Underwriters Laboratories ratings system is based on the following three tests:
1/2 Hour - UL class E - 350 Rated Safe: The unit is heated for one-half hour to reach an exterior temperature of 1550'F.
Paper will begin to char at approximately 405'F, the unit being tested must maintain an interior temperature of less than 350 degrees during heat-up and cool-down testing in order to earn its rating.
1 Hour - UL class D - 350 Rated Safe: The unit is heated for one hour to reach an exterior temperature of 1700'F, Like the 1/2 hour test, the safe must maintain an interior temperature of less than 350 degrees throughout the test.
1 Hour Plus - UL class C - 350 Rated Safe: The unit is heated for one hour to reach an exterior temperature of 1700'F, Like the 1/2 hour test, the safe must maintain an interior temperature of less than 350 degrees throughout the test.
2 Hour - UL class B - 350 Rated Safe: The unit is heated for two hours to reach an exterior temperature of 1850'F, During the complete process, the interior of the safe cannot go above 350 degrees.
4 Hour - UL class A - 350 Rated Safe: The unit is heated for four hours to reach an exterior temperature of 2000'F, During the complete process, the interior of the safe cannot go above 350 degrees.
The Explosion on Hazard Test determines whether or not the design of the home safe is protected against explosions or intense heat.
If the home safe construction is faulty, the sudden high temperature will cause hydrogen-air-stream mixtures in the insulating material to explode, rupturing the safe walls. This rupture will destroy much of the safe’s resistance to fire.
The test for explosion involves an empty safe, inside a closed furnace preheated to 2000 degrees F. The unit is placed inside the closed furnace for 30 minutes (2 hour test is 45 minutes, 4 hour test is 60 minutes) while the heat is maintained at 2000'F.
After the test time has past, the unit is allowed to cool. If there is no rupture in the insulation, the unit passed the test.
This test simulates a safe falling from a three story building, simulating the results from a fire that has weakened a structure.
The home safe is heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a furnace, then within two minutes, taken out of the furnace and raised three stories high and dropped onto a pile of bricks.
To pass the test, the safe can not pop open and the temperatures inside the safe can not rise above 300'F and papers inside have to be ledge-able.
Note: Home Safes with class ratings of A, B, and C are subjected to all three tests. Safes in classes D and E are not subjected to the Fire Impact Test.
Anti-Burglary Home Safes are usually made of solid steel plating or a combination of solid steel and composite fill material such as concrete mixed with fire retardant filler.
These safes are divided into categories based on the level of protection delivered and the testing they are subjected to.
The following seven Anti-Theft ratings are the rating classes UL gives to most Home Safes: B-Rate, UL RSC Rating, B/C Rate, C-Rate, UL TL-15, UL TL-30 and TL-30 X6.
B Rate Safe - A "B" rated safe is not a U.L.™ rating for a safe, instead it is a general rating for basically any box with a lock on it. A safe labeled with this standard rating has a 1/4in. thick steel body, 1/2in. thick steel door. No tests are given to provide this rating.
C Rate Safe - Like the "B" rated safe, the "C" rated safe is not a UL rated safe. A C-rated safe is a general rating is defined as a safe with 1/2in. thick steel box with a 1in. thick steel door and a lock.
B/C Rate Safe - A "B/C" rated safe is a general rating for safes with at least a 1/4in. steel body, 1/2in. steel door, plus an additional 10 or 12 gauge metal layers where composite fire resistant material is also deployed. No UL tests are given to provide this rating.
A safe with a "RSC" rating must withstand a total net time of five minutes of rigorous prying, drilling, punching, chiseling, and tampering attacks and must be tested using specific common burglary tools on all sides, and prevent the intruder from opening the safe for those net five minutes of working time.
TL-15 Rate Safe – Any safe given a U.L. TL-15 rating have passed standardized tests defined in the Underwriters Laboratories Standard 687, using the same tools and usually the same group of testing engineers.
Safes with this rating have the following construction requirements:
TL-30 Rate Safe – A safe given a U.L. TL-30 rating has the same construction requirements as the TL-15 above.
Tests are the same as the TL-15 tests except for the net working time. The testers are allowed 30 minutes and a few more tools (abrasive cutting wheels and power saws) to help them gain entrance to the safe.
The label signifies the testers were unable to open the door within 30 minutes. Keep in mind these engineers have the manufacturing blue prints and can disassemble the safe being tested before the test begins to see how it works.
TL-30 x 6 Rate Safe – The only difference in this Rated Safe compared to the TL-30 (30-minute) test is that the test is conducted on all six (6) sides of the safe.
Another feature that is included on home safes that have UL ratings is the safes locking system. In many cases the lock is one of the first areas a burglar will attack when trying to gain access to a safe.
Listed Below are the UL standard ratings for safe locks.
Group 2 Combination Lock -
Some resistance to opening attempts, Not suitable for any UL Rated safes.
Group 2M Combination Lock -
2 hours resistance to expert attacks, Used on TL-15, TL-15×6, and TL-30 safes.
Group 1 Combination Locks -
20 hours resistance to expert attacks, Special construction techniques not found in other locks, Can be found on any UL rated safe but must be used (or Group 1R used) on TRTL rated safes and TXTL rated safes.
Group 1R Combination Locks - 20 hours resistance to expert attacks, Resistance to radio-logical techniques (ex: X-rays). Synthetic polymers must withstand aging and humidity, special construction techniques not found in other locks, can be found on any UL rated safe but must be used (or Group 1 used) on TRTL rated safes and TXTL rated safes.
Additional Information on Anti-Theft Safes
High Security Safes TL-15, TL-30 with Dye the Safe Guy
There are a lot of things you want to consider before buying a quality home safe, the Safe and Vault Store.com has one of the best buying guides on the web for potential buyers of safes, you may want to check it out here if you have more questions about buying a safe for your home.
If you are looking to buy a home safe to protect your bullion from burglary, you might want to first take a look at the FBI's Theft Statistics
These statistics are here to make you aware of where and how most burglaries occur, if your current home falls into one of these statistics, perhaps off premise bullion storage would be a better route for you to look into.
There are tonnes of safe manufacturers selling safes on the market, the question many people ask themselves is what brands are the best.
While researching safe manufacturers in the preparation for this page, these safe manufactures have been found to be in the top of there industry.
At the bottom of the page there is a list of online home safe retailers that offer all or most of the safe manufacturer's products listed above
* = Affiliate