What to look for in a home safe

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No pun intended, but there are some key considerations when it comes to sourcing a home safe, including whether you get one that uses a key. Today’s home safe can be used for a variety of security means, from lightweight and portable to bolted down and massive.

Here’s what you need to look for when sourcing your first or next home safe.

What are you storing in the home safe?

Before we even get to pricing, the first question you should ask of a home safe is what you want to securely store inside it. Home safes can be small lock boxes that are easy to hide, or they can be cumbersome things that hold and/or protect a lot of precious items. If you have a firearms licence, an appropriate firearms safe is required, but note that the laws vary between states in Australia.

Even if you’re only looking to store smaller items—birth certificates and other documents, digital backup drives, or expensive jewellery—it’s still worth considering a heftier home safe depending on the type of protection you’re after. For instance, your insurance provider may require certain specifications for a safe that’s used to store expensive, insured items.

If you want to store many precious items or bulkier trinkets, or just have the freedom to add more items later, you’ll want to up the storage capacity of your home safe proportionately.

Safewise recommends
Sentrysafe 16.L Digital Security Safe
pro Two master override keys
pro Concealed hinges

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

What protection do you want with your home safe?

It used to be that buying a safe meant you were looking to protect valuables from prying hands (and prying bars). These days, there are an addition four Fs to add alongside protection from fraudulent folk: fire, flood, falls, and firearms. Whatever the reason, whether you live in a share house or are concerned about thieves, almost every safe and lock box is built with this protection in mind.

To boost protection against unwanted entry to your home safe, keep an eye out for cash ratings. These are a manufacturer claim of how much an insurer is likely to cover if the safe is bypassed. Additionally, torch and drill resistance costs extra but provides greater peace of mind that an eligible home safe offers better protection against oxyacetylene torches and other tools.

The other Fs are trickier and tend to cost more. Fire protection is a growing concern in Australia, and a home safe with an appropriate fire rating can keep contents protected for up to an hour of heat and flames. Fire-rated safes may also offer reasonable water-resistance, too, but it’s worth checking for verifications of this claim (independent verification is best). If you don’t plan on securing your safe to a wall or to the floor, you may want to consider a safe with fall protection so it can’t be dropped to bypass the locks.

Finally, if you’re a firearms owner, there are certain federal and state requirements for storing a firearm when it’s not in use. This means you can’t just pop on down to Bunnings to grab a safe on special; instead, you’ll have to source a purpose-built firearms safe.

Where are you installing your home safe?

Your intended installation location will determine the type of safe you want. For starters, a heavier home safe will need at least two people to move it into position. Heavier home safes or those you want bolted to the wall or floor could also benefit from professional installation. Affixing a home safe to something sturdy offers an extra level of protection.

If you want something small and discrete like a lock box designed to look like a book, that’s as easy to place as it is affordable. But the larger the capacity and/or weight of the home safe, the trickier it is to place discretely.

How do you want to access your home safe?

Safewise recommends
Sentrysafe Lock Box
pro Waterproof and fireproof
pro 8L capacity

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Some safes like lock boxes use a key, while others have a backup key in case you lose access to the primary method of entry.

There are home safes with digital keycodes or smaller key-storage safes that use a mechanical dial. Whichever access method you choose, there’s always an inherent risk. Keys can be lost or stolen. Codes can be forgotten. Keep in mind that, over time, batteries on a digital safe can run out.

How do you want to spend on a home safe?

Determining your preferences from the categories above will determine how much you have to spend. The most basic home safe options—like a book safe, key-storage case, or an entry-level anti-theft safe—are priced between $20 and $100. It’s okay to choose something like this for basic needs, but it’s worth noting that cheaper safes also tend to be easier to compromise.

Upping the budget unlocks access to better security features, larger storage capacity, or handy additional protection from fire, fall and/or water. If you choose a safe that requires mounting (or a safe that could benefit from it), factor professional installation into your budget, too.


A good home safe is one that meets your storage, protection, access, and budget requirements. Think about the size of the items you want to protect and what you want to protect them from first (i.e. theft, fire, fall, flood), then factor in additional considerations such as installation, type of access, and weight.
Home safes are worth it for the security and peace of mind they provide. Cheaper, smaller home safes are good for basic requirements. But the more you invest, the better the protection.
The quality of a home safe will determine how easily it can be compromised. Cheaper models can be busted open in minutes or even seconds with basic tools if a person has the right know-how. More expensive options are much harder to crack open.
It’s a good idea to secure any safe larger than a lock box to the wall or the floor. This makes them harder to remove and safer for occupants of your home from accidents and injury.

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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