Types of Safes and Locking Mechanism


Which one do you need amongst the different types of safes available on the market? Key considerations in buying the right investment to protect your valuables are what you intend to put in it and the threats you want to guard against e.g. burglars, fire, floods, heavy impact, explosions.

Safes come with varying degrees of protection and different features that make it suitable for many uses from storing jewellery, coins, cash notes, printed documents and memory storage devices through to antiques, silverware, paintings and many other items of great personal and monetary value.

It’s also important to know where you intend to put it — in your home, office or business; embedded into the floor, behind the wall, bolted to a heavy object, or simply ‘camouflaged’ in plain sight.

Safes come in various sizes, shapes and features, but are generally classified into:

1. Home or residential safes

  • Fire safes. These are entry level safes you can easily find in your local home improvement store. Its main purpose is to guard primarily documents of extreme importance such as wills, vehicle and property titles, stocks and bonds certificates, passports and social security papers, etc. against the extreme temperatures of fires. There are different stages of protection offered by fire safes. They are able to maintain a low enough temperature inside for different amounts of time (depending on the model) by releasing moisture into the safe.
  • Burglary safes. If you want a higher level of protection against burglars this type of safe is ideal as it is heavier and has more sophisticated locking mechanisms. A security safe offers maximum security with its substantially thick steel door and steel walls able to withstand the attacks of even the more sophisticated and determined criminals. Some models have an added fire protection feature, making them hybrid burglar / fire safes. Depending on where you intend to place them, they can be:
  • Standalone home safes. It is a versatile type of safe you can put any place you like (just make sure you have enough room to open the door fully!). They can be mounted to the floor or bolted to another heavy object, or just placed free-standing (their immense weight deters burglars from simply carting them away). It’s an ideal option if you want a more mobile safe.
  • Wall safe. Talk about ‘blending into the background’. The safe is built into the wall and covered up with a painting or furniture, making it an inconspicuous way of hiding things. This popular type of safe keeps criminals guessing its exact location especially in a large room or house. It’s also very convenient for homeowners since it’s placed in the wall so they don’t have to stoop to use it.
  • Underfloor safe. They are embedded onto a concrete floor, making them very much immune to removal. Its location can also be conveniently covered up with a rug, mat, or carpet. If you don’t plan on opening it for a very long time, you can also put a bed or cupboard over it, making it a lengthy affair for burglars to open even if they knew its exact location.
  • Gun safes. It’s a necessary investment to house your rare gun collection or even just to keep it out of reach of active little hands or off the hands of a curious teenager. They come in various sizes (to accommodate either long or short firearms or both), strength of security and resistance to fire.
  • Key safes. They are designed to securely store keys, ranging in size from compact key safes storing one or a few keys through to larger solid steel boxes holding a lot of keys with key tags to help organise its contents. Outdoor key safes are embedded into concrete or brick on the exterior of a house or building and accessed with a combination code, which can be easily changed to accommodate security needs.
  • Jewellery safes. If you prefer your expensive sparklers to be near you instead of in a bank vault this is the way to go. Most jewellery safes are well-designed, ornate boxes themselves with beautiful wood and velvet interiors worthy of housing your precious gems collection. As dainty as its interiors are, its exterior is just as tough and difficult to crack.

2. Business or commercial safes.

Many of the types of home safe can be and are also used by businesses. However, there are other types more specific for business or corporate usage owing to the much higher level of security required by large organisations (e.g. storing important tax and accounting documents, contracts, business plans, blueprints, property titles, legal documents, as well as large volumes of cash).

  • Office safes. It is a stronger and more secure than the typical home safe. They are also usually fireproof, with much higher fire ratings. Many models are drop tested to ensure they will not unlock when dropped from a given height. In most cases they are fitted with an electronic lock.
  • Hotel safes. These are provided by hotels to guests in order to deposit their valuables during their stay. They do not offer the strongest protection but are much better than having important travel and business documents and cash strewn about, vulnerable to being misplaced, damaged or stolen. They are usually mounted to the wall, and some models automatically lock out in case of too many attempts to open it.
  • Drop safes or deposit safes. They are used by businesses, banks, postal offices and offices where quick secure deposits at regular intervals are made without having to open the safe door everytime. The item to be deposited is dropped onto a small hatch at the top or front of the safe. Drop / deposit safes are used to hold valuables temporarily until they can be transferred to a bigger, permanent safe or processed in some way.
  • Vault. Also known as a strongroom, it differs from a conventional safe in that it is part of the building it is located in. The room is closely guarded by a heavy, close fitting steel door and a complex lock mechanism. While we usually associate it with a bank, it is also built in buildings that house valuables such as museums, grand hotels, rare books libraries and even some government ministries.
  • Data safes. These are used to keep digital media. Fire resistant data safes are designed especially to protect tapes, computer media, external hard drives, USB drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs and negatives from extreme temperatures, magnetic fields, dust and smoke. The insulation on this type of safe is significantly thicker than a safe intended for paper documents because the materials that make up electronic media melt at lower temperatures compared to paper. Its interior is also generally smaller.

Safes are protected by an array of locking devices:

  • Key lock. With this type of lock, the safe opens with a key. It is ideal if you are prone to forgetting number combinations.
  • Dial combination lock. Safes with this type of lock require the user to dial a number sequence to open it. It is ideal for those who tend to misplace their keys often. Opening a conventional dial lock takes longer than an electronic lock.
  • Electronic lock. Like a dial lock it also has a non-key entry feature where the user can create a digital code and input it on a digital key pad and / or use a magnetic card strip to open a safe. It is very convenient because it does not take a lot of time to open, and is also ideal for when several people need to use the safe without having more than one person or all of them present at the same time to validate entry (although this is possible for safes with bespoke locking mechanisms). If access should become compromised, you can always programme a new code. Its sophisticated variants utilise fingerprint or iris recognition technology and is considered very secure.

For all your Safe requirements, visit http://www.theofficesuppliessupermarket.com/c/safes

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