How to Choose the Right Safe for You

How to Choose the Right Safe for You

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Confused about where to begin? If you are looking for a safe for your home or office please consider the following questions to ensure you purchase a safe that is suitable to YOUR needs and requirements. There are many aspects to deciding on which safe is best for you. We recommend considering these questions and then please feel free to contact us or better yet drop into our Fremantle branch to see our safe range, first hand. A safe consultant can work with you to help you make an informed decision and save you time but most importantly ensure you purchase the correct safe for you.

Here are some basic questions to help you work out which safe is best suited to your requirements

1. Is the safe for home or business use?

Generally, thieves will assume a business safe holds more cash than a home safe and they have more ‘night’ time to perform the break-in without disturbance. For this reason, the safe recommended for a business premises is usually of better quality with a higher cash rating (see cash rating explanation).

If you have a home business or plan to store large amounts of cash or irreplaceable valuables in your home safe, you need to take this into consideration when choosing a safe. Regardless of which safe you choose, all safes need to be well built, correctly installed and preferably protected by an alarm system. This will help reduce the time the thieves stay on your premises.

2. What do you want to store in the safe?

This is an important question to ask yourself. Safes are not all the same. Some are designed to withstand fire, some against theft and some are both fire and theft resistant safes.

You may like to consider if you will be storing

  • Cash
  • Jewellery
  • Documents i.e. passports, birth certificates, wills
  • Computer media i.e. back-up discs, portable hard drives
  • Irreplaceable valuables i.e. family heirlooms
  • Photos
  • Collections i.e. coin, stamps
  • Spare keys
  • Rifles


If you want to store cash, valuables and some paperwork, we recommend a safe with both Theft and Fire Rating (see ‘Fire and Theft Safes’)

If you will be storing computer media such as discs and portable hard drives, then a Data Safe is more suitable. If these items are not stored in a Data Safe, in the event of a fire their physical structure may remain intact however the data is liable to be corrupted by the electro-magnetic radiation produced by the fire.

3. How much are the contents worth to you?

Safes are rated by how hard they are to break into and then given a cash rating (a suggested amount of how much an insurance company will cover in the safe). This is to make sure the safe is going to be strong enough to adequately protect what is being stored. How much are the contents you want to store worth to you?

4. Do you require fire protection, burglary protection or both?

This will depend on what you are storing and/or your insurance company requirements.

Fire protection – Fire resistant safes are usually 2 thin sheet metal boxes, one inside the other separated by an insulation material. Fire safes are tested and rated. Generally a fire safe is not a good theft resistant unit.

What Does Fire Rating Mean?

Fire ratings are given to safes based on factory testing. Testing involves subjecting the safe to extreme temperatures and in some cases also drop tested from heights. A fire rating of 1 hour means the documents should remain intact after withstanding fire conditions the same as it is tested for, for up to one hour.

Theft / burglary protection – A theft resistant safe is usually a thick steel body and are designed and tested to various cash ratings. Generally a theft resistant safe is not a good fire safe. Burglary protected safe become extremely hot during a fire and the contents are usually burnt or charred.

What Does Cash Rating Mean?

This is the suggested insurable amount of cash which the particular safe is recommended to have stored in an unsupported situation (without a monitored alarm system). This is determined according to the construction and design of the safe and difficulty to forcibly open it. $10,000 cash is equal to approximately $100,000 of domestic valuables such as jewellery. This is because cash (and gold bars) is generally considered unrecoverable by insurance companies, compared with domestic valuables. It is suggested that this cash rating is doubled in a supported situation where a monitored alarm for the premises exists.

Fire and theft safes – Fire and thefts can happen at any time. Choosing a safe that covers you for both is the safest option. When deciding what type of safe you need, you will need to weigh up the fire and theft risks versus what the cost is to you to replace these items. Some items are irreplaceable such as family heirlooms, others are replaceable but cause a lot of inconvenience to replace such as passports, birth certificates. It all depends on what you want to store in your safe.

5. How big does the safe need to be?

As a general rule, it is recommended you double the amount you need to store now as this allows for more storage in the future. You can always find more things to put in the safe but it’s hard to remove items to allow others to fit in. Being able to find what is in your safe should also be a consideration or you may find yourself pulling lots of items out of your safe to find what you are looking for is hiding in the bottom back corner. Please use the internal dimensions provided for determining this and not the external dimensions. Depending on the safe you choose the internal dimensions can be a lot smaller than the safe exterior.

Remember to check the external dimensions to ensure it will fit where you would like it installed.


Gronbek Security; sells, repairs, delivers and installs all types of residential and commercial safes from small petty cash safes to very large commercial safes.

6. Where is the safe being installed?

Is the safe being installed on a

  • Concrete floor
  • Carpet
  • Tiles
  • Timber floor (bolt downs can only be done if the joist is the anchor point)
  • In-floor installation
  • Brick Wall
  • Downstairs
  • Upstairs and how many steps?
  • Ease of access from the driveway to the final destination
  • Skirting boards may need to be removed


The best spot to bolt down a safe is flat onto a concrete floor, with a solid wall against the back and side of the safe, with a couple of Dyna Bolts. This gives a couple of tons of pressure when correctly fitted and makes it very difficult to move the safe. Even driving a wedge under the safe will just push it into the wall.

Gronbek Security can deliver and install, service and relocate all safes. Prices vary depending on the weight of the safe and final location.

7. Who is going to be using the safe?

Who is going to be using the safe?

Can they bend over well?

Do they need a display to see the numbers being entered?

Digital Lock Option – A quick and simple solution where you can choose your own code. This option is generally a more costly option however is very convenient, secure and by far the most popular. They come with either a key override or external power supply.

Mechanical Combination Dial Lock Option – Usually a round dial that is turned to a set number left then right to another number etc. This option is more time consuming requiring a little patience, good eyesight and lighting. This type of lock is also secure and very reliable.

Key Only Option – In a business situation staff can have access to the safe during the day via a key however the owner could opt to spin the combination at the end of the day and this will lock the staff out until the owner opens the safe again the next day.

In a business situation staff can have access to the safe during the day via a key however the owner could opt to spin the combination at the end of the day and this will lock the staff out until the owner opens the safe again the next day.


8. How often will you need to open the safe?

Consider how often you will use your safe. If it will be used daily then positioning in somewhere accessible but secure would make sense, however if your safe is only used once a month then you may wish to hide your safe in a less attainable and practical location.

9. Special / Other Considerations

Do you require a ‘posting’ slot?

Deposits safes are great in business situations where money can be secured by any staff member however the contents cannot be accessed unless you have the code or combination.

Do you need a lockable compartment inside the safe?

This allows an office safe to be accessed by more than just the business owner.

Do you have an alarm on the premises?

A quality monitored alarm system is recommended especially for businesses as it will deter a thief and you may be lucky they haven’t gained entry into your safe.

What about CCTV? How can this help?

CCTV cameras installed inside the room where your safe is located will put pressure on the offenders and may force them to speed up or simply leave the premises in fear of being caught on camera.

Do you require shelving inside your safe?

This option can be useful for keeping the contents tidy, organised and easy to find.

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