Safes Buyers Guide
By John LaMorte
Two certainties in life are often considered to be death and taxes. A forgotten certainty to count on has to be you. When properly equipped and trained, you are the most reliable source you have to accomplish and meet the needs you determine to be necessary to achieve your goals.
No one can better assess your situation than you, and the best way to address those needs is to have the best, most current information available to prioritize those needs. Armadillo Safes knows you want the best protection, and we want you to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to choose the right safe to fill your requirements.
To make your task easier we categorized the following definitions that are used by Underwriters Laboratories, UL to determine the effectiveness of safes in correlation with insurance companies to grade and rate them in the industry. The UL is an independent research safety science company that takes a non-biased approach to evaluating products and shares their findings so consumers can confidently make sound decisions. Products that pass testing and UL audits deliver consistent results when they are delivered to the market. Products approved by UL, such as safes, will have UL markings on their product.
The primary function people look for with safes include protecting firearms, preventing burglaries, and the protection that is offered in the event of a fire or other emergency.
Burglar safes have a straight forward construction. Steel plates of varying thicknesses, with or without a composite fill material. From a testing standpoint the safes are divided into several categories.
Residential Security Container
‘RSC’ is a rating assigned to a typical safe found in a home or office setting. The rating assure that additional burglary protection is built in. As an example these safes do not have as high of a rating as the safes used in jewelry stores. To get this rating a device must pass a tested 5-minute break-in attack scenario, and the contents should range in the $5,000 value. TL rating are deemed appropriate for higher end safes, but it might be expected that a RSC rated safe could interpret into a TL-5 rating, based on the timed effort to breach it.
Here is the simplest safe. It doesn’t involve the same testing that other rated safes endure. It is required to have ½ inch plate on the door, and ¼ inch plates around the body. The contents should range around $10,000.
The difference you find with a C-rating safe versus a B-rating safe is the thickness. It requires no testing to garner its C-rating. The door will be 1 inch thick and the body will be ½ inch thick. The content value should range up to $30,000.
TL is a designation given to safes tested by UL. It is based on a term, Net Working Time. This is defined as a timed process by which a person attempts to break into the tested safe. The tester is allowed to use a variety of power and hand tools. They can vary from diamond edged, carbide tipped, high speed and leverage inducing apparatuses. The clock stops when the tool is removed from the test.
This rating is applied by the UL to a safe scenario that ends after the door opens after 15 minutes of testing. It is required to be constructed with 1 inch solid steel or the equivalent. Your content range should not exceed a value over $200,000.
As with the TL-15 this rating is applied by the UL to safes going through the same testing as a TL-15. Successful entry is obtained after 30 minutes using the same tools. The testing on TL-15 and TL-30 is only performed on the door. Your content range should not exceed a value of $375,000.
TL-30 X 6
The TL-30 X 6 goes through the same testing as the TL-30 safes by the UL. This testing allows compromise on all 6 sides. The value content should range between $500,000 - $1,000,000.
The TRTL-30 UL rating is applied to a safe that endures the UL testing just like the TL-30 X 6.This testing encompasses the same tools as the other UL testing, the exception is the inclusion of a torch as well as attacking all 6 sides. The content value you place in this safe is upwards of $1,000,000.
An uneducated shopper may view a “fireproof” safe as the method to go with. Believing that they offer the better of two worlds, burglar proof and fireproof. Buyer beware, the term fireproof isn’t accurate. They are likely to be fire resistant, which may make them better suited for holding important documents. For instance, you may keep important documents in them so they can be easily transported in the event of a fire. Credit cards, quick cash and personal legal documents like identification. In a hand held device you can get them out of the house or office unscathed.
Storing large amounts of cash, or the family jewels in these devices is wrong. They are generally constructed of thin metal, usually 14-18 gauge steel. The locking device is not the best quality, and they are easy for people with ill intents to gain access. A forceful repetitive slam onto concrete may easily open them. This type of safe is good to have as long as the owner understand the limitations it has. K.I.S. (Korean Industrial Standard) ranks safes by temperature and time.
CLASS 350 1 HOUR
Prior to using a fireproof safe, understand that a unit with a Class 350 1-hour rating means that the safe is heated for 1 hour at a temperature of 1550°. It is then cooled down. It must maintain a inside temperature of no more than 350° for the duration of the test.
CLASS 350 2 HOUR
Class 350 2 hour rating extends the testing to 2 hours. Anything hand held, and cheaply constructed may not show a Class testing and should be avoided.
UL takes testing to an extreme by applying Fire Endurance and Fire Impact testing. These are classed together for the user’s convenience.
Safes earning this ranking withstand furnace testing temperatures of 2,000° for 4 hours, while maintaining an internal temperature of 350°.
These safes withstand furnace testing temperatures of 1,850° for 2 hours while maintaining an internal temperature of 350°.
Here the safe is tested with furnace temperatures of 1,700° for 1 hour, while maintaining internal temperatures of 350°.
These safes endure the same parameters as Class C safes, but do not require an impact test to earn its classification.
This is the lowest ranking classification. Safes must withstand 30 minutes at 1.550° maintaining 350°. Impact testing is not required for this classification.
The impact test is a continuation to the endurance test. When the safe comes out of the endurance test it is raised to a height of 30 feet. It is dropped to a brick or concrete floor. If it survives the fall it is put in the furnace again to test the corresponding time and temperatures associated with the class it is qualifying for. For example, a Class A safe will endure 4 hours at 2,000°, then survive a 30 foot drop. It will go into the furnace again for 4 hours at 2,000°, maintaining a temperature internally of 350°. Then it will be opened to ensure the contents are intact.
Placing Your Safe
Once you purchase your safe the most important decision afterwards is where to place it. You must consider a location where you will use it. In the wall, behind the dresser is secure, and very unlikely to be broken into, but in the same sense you are unlikely to add to it on a regular basis. This puts you at a disadvantage. You must keep it where it will be part of your routine. Gun safes specifically need to be accessible. A locked closet safe for weapons is ideal, but you should probably have a small portable lock box that you can safely travel with or keep by your bed if that is where you choose to have a defense weapon for emergency situations.
Where you place your safe requires you to consider lighting. If your device is placed in a dark area you will be forced to open it without the aid of lighting. Safes with dials can be difficult to open in full light, a shaded area makes this operation complex. If you do need to keep it in a dark place, consider keeping a pen light on top so you always have the ability to open it at your discretion.
If the safe of your choice is capable of being anchored, and most are, you should take advantage of this. Anchoring deters thieves, and may improve your insurance deductibles, check with your agent. Ideally you can go right into your concrete slab. If you are on a pier and beam sub floor be sure you, or the installer doesn’t just go into the floor board. You need to ensure that the anchoring goes into multiple joists below or in the studs of your wall if you are installing a wall safe. You are buying a safe because you have decided to take the proper steps to protect your belongings, don’t sell yourself short by ignoring your anchoring abilities.
When you consider the safe options before you, consider your future. Everyone jokes about not wanting to buy a minivan, until your family grows to the point where you need it. Like your house and car, your safe must be able to grow with your family. In an average life span you will accumulate more of everything, kids, assets, and guns. Don’t limit yourself with size. As your family grows you will find that documentation, medicines and weapons increase in numbers, so doubling your anticipated safe size is a smart decision. The majority of customers have not looked back and thought that they should have bought a smaller safe. Customers tend to return to upgrade the size of their safes because they didn’t properly qualify their future needs the first time.
Our hopes are that you trust Armadillo Safes with your security needs. We want to help you understand what you should expect when you are deciding how to fill your needs. Educating our customers means that we can thoroughly fulfill your needs. What we have laid out here is a starting point for you to start developing questions. Please reach out and Contact Us with any further questions, or allow us to expand your options with unique scenarios of your own.