All About Safes: Types, Features, and More

by | Nov 17, 2023

Types of Safes

Safes protect our most valuable possessions, whether at home or in a commercial setting. While “valuable” may be subjective for each person, safes are a proven solution for securing items, whether they hold sentimental or monetary value.

When you first start looking at safes, you’ll quickly notice there’s a huge selection. The sheer number of options can be overwhelming, but understanding the different options can help you make a smart choice.

Below, you’ll find details about the types of safes that are available for residential and commercial use, various locking mechanisms, options for materials and construction, additional features they may include, mounting styles, and factors to consider when choosing the right safe for your needs.

Why Buy a Safe?

Before diving in, it’s important to note the role a safe plays in a business or household’s overall security. A safe is, by nature, a form of deterrence. It’s the last line of defense between a criminal and your valuable possessions.

If you’re interested in a safe for your home or business, it’s important to know there are several layers to a holistic security system. You’ll want to include other security measures, such as video surveillance and fortified doors, to prevent a criminal from reaching your safe at all. Safes work in conjunction with other front-line protections to put every possible obstacle between a thief and your valuables.

Now, let’s look at your options.

Residential Safes

Looking to add a safe to your house? It can protect jewelry, firearms, personal documents, family heirlooms, and much more, depending on the type you choose.

Burglary Safes

Protecting your valuable possessions from theft is paramount. Burglary safes are specially designed for this purpose. They feature reinforced walls, advanced locking mechanisms, and, in some cases, fireproofing.

Fireproof Safes

These safes are designed to shield your valuables from fire damage. They come in different fire ratings, indicating how long they can withstand high temperatures without damaging the contents inside. Whether it’s important documents, photographs, or cash, fireproof safes provide a protective barrier against the ravages of fire.

Gun Safes

If you own a gun, you’ll want a secure protective storage container designed specifically for firearms, ammunition, and accessories. Gun safes are essential for responsible firearm ownership. They keep firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have access to them, such as children and criminals.

Floor Safes

Floor safes offer a high level of security as they are concealed beneath the floor. Placed under a rug or carpet, they are difficult to detect and access, making them a preferred choice for items you want to hide.

Wall Safes

If you prefer discreet security, built-in wall safes are an excellent choice. You can hide one behind a painting or piece of furniture, adding an extra layer of security. Though generally smaller in size, they provide reliable protection against theft.

Wall Safe

Commercial Safes

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, owning a safe is pretty much non-negotiable. That said, different industries and business models necessitate different safe styles.

Depository Safes

Businesses that handle a significant amount of cash and require regular deposits benefit from depository safes. These safes have a slot for depositing cash or documents without needing to open the main safe compartment. This way, everything stays secure during business hours and after hours.

Cash Management Safes

Efficiency in cash handling is essential for many businesses. Cash management safes come equipped with advanced security features like time-delayed locks and dual-user access to prevent theft and fraud.

Data and Media Safes

Protecting digital storage devices, such as hard drives and USBs, from fire and water damage can protect your business data from disaster. These safes provide an added layer of security for digital assets.

Drop Safes

Ideal for businesses that require regular deposits but don’t deal with a high volume of cash, drop safes are smaller and more affordable. They have a slot for depositing cash or documents, similar to depository safes.

Fire Safes

These safes, designed to withstand high temperatures, protect the contents from fire damage. Just like their residential counterparts, they come with different fire ratings, indicating their ability to withstand heat for a specified duration.

Commercial Safe

Mounting Styles

Safes can also be broken down into two categories: bolt-down safes and portable safes. You will likely prefer one over the other depending on your application for the safe.

Bolt-Down Safes

These safes are designed to be secured to the floor or wall. They typically have pre-drilled holes in the bottom and back so the user can attach them directly to a solid surface. This makes it much harder for a burglar to remove the entire safe from the premises.

Portable Safes

Portable safes are small, lightweight, and easy to move around. They offer a convenient option for those who need to transport their valuables frequently or want to hide them in different locations. These safes typically have a handle for easy carrying.

Portable Safe

Locking Mechanisms

You must also important to consider ease of access. It’s a trade-off: a faster, simpler access protocol for you means a less secure lock for thieves. Here’s an overview of the various locking mechanisms commonly used for safes.

Traditional Key Locks

Keyed locks offer simple security with a few pitfalls and no notable modern features. Although they’re the oldest mechanism, key locks are still a popular option because of their simplicity and reliability. They don’t require any power source, making them less prone to technical issues.

However, they come with the risk of losing the key. If that happens, not only are you locked out, but also anyone who finds the key can gain access. And, just like a door, it’s possible to pick a keyed safe lock.

Combination Locks

Do you remember your high school locker? That was basically a safe with a combination lock.

Combination locks unlock when the user spins the dial to a specific sequence of numbers. They provide a decent level of security and eliminate the risk of key loss or theft.

Because they require all users to memorize the combination, anyone who forgets it can’t get in. Worse yet, anyone who finds the combo written on a sticky note can get in. Some people with fine motor skill issues may also find the process of entering the combination difficult.

Worried about someone cracking your safe like in the movies? Safe Central assures that, while cracking a safe is technically possible with the right equipment and expertise, most breached safes are brute force attacks.

Electronic Keypad Locks

Electronic keypad locks offer quick and convenient access. They require the user to enter a numerical code for access. These locks are powered by a battery and provide thousands of possible combinations, ensuring a high level of security.

However, they depend on a power source and may be vulnerable to technical glitches. And, like combination locks, each user must memorize the numerical sequence to gain entry.

Biometric Locks

Biometric locks use unique biological attributes, such as fingerprints or retinal scans, for access. These attributes are unique to each individual and cannot be easily replicated or stolen. As a result, these safes provide a high level of security and convenience.

Downsides? They, too, require a power source to operate and may be susceptible to technical errors. Plus, this modern tech might carry a higher price tag.

Biometric Safe

Materials and Construction

Not a lot has changed over time in terms of materials used in the construction of safes. Steel remains the most common material because of its strength, durability, and resistance to physical attacks. It can also withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for fire-resistant safes.

Fireproof safes are designed with insulating materials that can withstand severe temperature spikes for specified durations, safeguarding the contents from heat damage. These insulating materials include gypsum board, ceramic wool, reinforced concrete, and perlite. The type and effectiveness of fireproofing materials used in a safe’s construction are crucial for ensuring protection during a fire.

Understanding Fire Ratings of Safes

For many people, the most important factor to consider when buying a personal safe is its fire rating. This indicates how long the safe can protect its contents from fire at a specific temperature.

During a fire rating test, a safe is exposed to extreme heat to simulate the conditions of a house fire. The interior of the safe must maintain a temperature below the point when paper starts to char for the entire duration of the test.

Different fire ratings, such as 1/2-hour, 1-hour, and 2-hour, determine the duration for which the safe can withstand high temperatures. A higher fire rating offers better protection for stored items during a fire. Safes with higher fire ratings generally cost more.

Antique Fireproof Safe

Security Features

Safes often come with additional security features that enhance their protective capabilities. The significance of such features largely depends on the preferences of the end-user. They may give you added peace of mind, or you may not care one way or another.

  • Anti-Drill Plates: These are hardened steel plates installed inside the safe door to protect the lock and bolt work from drilling attacks.
  • Relocking Devices: These mechanisms lock the safe permanently if a forced entry attempt is detected. They are typically activated when the lock or bolt work is tampered with.
  • Tamper-Proof Hinges: Tamper-proof hinges prevent a thief from removing the door of the safe by tampering with or removing the hinges.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Safe

Selecting the right safe involves careful consideration of several key factors.

Size and Capacity

Assess your storage needs, both current and future, before choosing a safe. Consider the type and volume of items you plan to secure. A safe that’s too small may not accommodate your needs, while one that’s too large might be an unnecessary expense.

Security Level

Determine the level of security you require based on factors such as insurance requirements, the value of the items you plan to protect, the location of the safe, and your overall security needs. Evaluate the safe’s burglary resistance, fire resistance, and locking mechanism to ensure they meet your requirements.


Safes come in a wide range of prices. Setting a budget will help narrow down your options and ensure you find a safe that meets your needs without overspending. Consider the value of the items you intend to protect and your long-term security requirements when establishing your budget.

Installation and Location

Consider where and how you plan to install the safe. Bolt-down safes are more secure but require permanent installation, while portable safes offer flexibility but might be easier to steal. Take into account the space available and your home or office layout. And remember that certain locking mechanisms require a power source.

DON’T FORGET: If your business has a live-monitored Deep Sentinel system, point at least one of your security cameras at your safe. This will ensure your safe and its contents receive the full protection of Deep Sentinel’s AI and live video monitoring by professional security guards.

Fire Protection Needs

If you are concerned about fire damage, pay close attention to the fire rating of the safe. Determine the potential fire risks in your area and select a safe that offers adequate protection for the duration and temperature rating required.

Locking Mechanism Preferences

Choose a locking mechanism that aligns with your preferences for convenience and security. Biometric and electronic keypad locks offer quick access, while traditional key locks and combination locks are reliable but require careful handling.

Certifications and Standards

Look for safes that meet relevant industry certifications and standards. For example, safes that meet Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards for burglary and fire resistance are often recommended.

Layered Security Includes Live Surveillance

While adding a safe to your home or business is valuable, it’s merely a piece of the puzzle in a multi-layered security system. To improve the overall security of your property, consider the comprehensive coverage, active monitoring, and professional intervention that a Deep Sentinel security system offers.

DS2 Wireless Outdoor Security Camera

A live video surveillance solution from Deep Sentinel provides more effective security, especially during a crime. Real-time monitoring and threat verification deter thieves before they reach your safe and ensures a swift and appropriate police response.

Invest in a Deep Sentinel system and get:

  • Real-time intervention
  • Enhanced deterrence
  • Comprehensive protection
  • Professional monitoring
  • Peace of mind

Nothing keeps you safer.

Need a Solution that Prevents Crime?
Deep Sentinel is the only security technology that delivers the experience of a personal guard on every customer’s home and business. Visit or call 833.983.6006.

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