Welcome –

After living through the experiencing of being a victim of both a home break in and two robberies from a step child living in my home, I decided it was time to investigate having a home safe.  At first I thought that it would be as easy as going to Amazon or a local store and pick out a safe and have it delivered.  However upon performing home safe reviews I discovered that not all safes equal!  Safe manufactures, in response to the market have developed a wide range of safes in response to both actual and perceived market needs.  It is important to note that safe manufactures do offer for sale a number of low cost safes that upon consideration really only provide a limited, if false sense of security at best.

This statement is not intended to discredit safe manufactures in anyway; in fact I applaud them for their advanced understanding of the market.  Safe manufacturing, like any product, follow what people buy.  What we as consumers need to do is purchase wisely for our actual needs.

My research has shown that safes fall into one of three basic categories.   Fire Safes – safe that protect contents from burning for a limited period of time should the storage location experience a fire.  Burglary or Security Safes – Safe designed to protect the contents from theft or robbery.  The third category is a combination of the two.  In all categories, safes are basically rated in terms of how long the designed protection is expected to hold up.  Understanding these ratings is critical to making an informed purchase.  Consider that value does not mean making a purchase at low cost, but that it means getting the most out of the money you actually spend.  A good one time purchase will provide years of security and can even return a profit (Increase value of a home with a quality floor safe installed) at resale of your property.

InstallingAFloorSafe.info contains home safe reviews and other important information that should be considered when you are planning on installing a floor safe within your home or business.  I hope you agree that the information contained here is relevant and useful.  Please feel free to leave me a message or a post via e-mail.  If you have a relevant & entertaining story I will post it.

Below I have outlined some information about the basic characteristics and rating systems for safes.  Start here, but please take the time to look at the other posts.  I think you will find them enlightening.


Safe Characteristics

If this is your first time looking for a safe, you are probably wondering what you should be looking for in a safe.  One of the biggest surprises I had when I started my investigation was that not all safes are designed to protect against burglary.  Some are designed specifically for protection against fire, while other are designed for burglary protection, but not to safe guard the contents against fire.  Of course a third class of safes provides protection against both. Understanding these ratings will be essential to selecting the floor safe that fits your needs.

Another factor I soon discovered when doing my own home safe reviews is that many manufactures are providing non-standard ratings to the products they sell.  What this means is the standards they are using do not match up to industry standards.  This gives them the liberty to be creative and often confusing as to the actual protection a consumer can expect from their safe.  This is a basic marketing tactic used to make price and quality comparisons between manufactures difficult.  Often times a manufacture will state that their rating is “Equivalent” to one of the UL listed rating.  Beware because this can mean that the safe does not actually carry a UL rating.  When possible, try and stick to the UL ratings for each safe to ensure relevant comparison of product & price.

Types of Commercial and Home Safe Ratings:

The Table below is a partial list of common ratings.  There are certainly more available in the market place, but the typical home own is not likely to be concerned with those.  In each section I will use the relevant UL rating.  In some cases I may provide other common

Burglar Resistance

 This is the amount of time a safe is expected to resist being forcefully opened

Fire Resistance

Protection provided for contents while the safe is subjected to high temperatures.  This class of rating also contains standards for exposure to impact, explosive conditions.

Environment Resistance

Protection of contents from water or dust

Type of lock

Examples  Dial, Key, Time lock, Electronic Locking

Location Type

Where the safe will be located such as a wall safe, floor safe, or free standing


Burglar Resistance:

The explanation of ratings used to express the level of resistance against burglary is described below and is out lined in UL 687.  I want to take a moment to point out that these ratings do not take into account the possibility of the theft of the entire safe.  Often time’s folks will purchase a quality safe for the home and use it to store valuables, only to find out the thieves took the entire safe so they could crack it at their leisure.  So keep in mind that whatever safe you select, you will need to consider how you will secure the safe itself against theft.  Which of course is a key factor for installing a floor safe; it is difficult to remove an object encased in cement.


Burglar Resistance Ratings Table


What this means


UL rating of the tested time it took professional safe crackers employed by Underwriters Laboratories to open a safe with the application of hand tools such as picking tools, mechanical or electric tools, grinding points, carbide drills and devices that apply pressure to the door of the safe.  Normally a number will follow the TL such as -15, -30, – 60 which represent what is known as the “Net Working”  time the safe resisted being opened.  Net Working time is the time that tools are actually applied to the safe.   For ratings of -30 and higher additional tools such as cutting wheels and power saws are also used.


UL rating of the tested time it took professional safe crackers employed by Underwriters Laboratories to open a safe with the application of hand tools such as picking tools, mechanical or electric tools, grinding points, carbide drills and devices that apply pressure,  cutting wheels, and power saws to the door of the safe.  Additionally – impact tools and an oxy-fuel welding and cutting torch (tested gas limited to 1,000 cubic feet (28 m3) combined total oxygen and fuel gas.) are used.  Just like the TL rating, Normally a number will follow the TRTL such as -30 or- 60 which represent what is known as the “Net Working” time the safe resisted being opened. Net Working time is the time that tools are actually applied to the safe.


This rating means that the safe has achieved all the requirements for a TRTL rating but additionally has been shown to be able to withstand high explosives such as nitroglycerin or an equivalent to not more than 4 ounces (110 g) of nitroglycerin in one charge (entire test must not use more explosive than that equivalent to 8 ounces (230 g) of nitroglycerin).


Residential Security Container – this is special rating used for basic home safes and is the equivalent of a TL-5 with the use of standard house tools (tool one can expect to find in a normal house hold).  This should be seen as absolute minimum security.

X 6

This is added to the rating and indicates that the testing was performed on all 6 sides of the safe.  For example, a TL-30 means that only the door was subjected to testing for 30 minutes.  TL-30X6 means the other five walls were shown to resist access as well for 30 minutes.


Fire Resistance:

The category of Fire Resistance is primarily concerned with ensuring that the safe contents are preserved and usable in the event of a fire.  Details can be found in UL 72.  Fire Resistance testing consists of several test areas. These tests are designed to mimic possible scenarios that may occur during a fire giving the consumer an extra degree of confidence in the usefulness of safe.  Upon completion of the testing, general security of the safe must remain intact and the records within the safe are considered “usable” if they be handled without breaking and still decipherable by ordinary means.  Most of your manufactures indicate that installing a floor safe is an excellent way to obtain a good level of fire resistance protection.  I want to note that most floor safes are never subjected to these tests and the manufactures claims are based up the assumption that being encased in cement and buried in the ground will proved an excellent degree of protection.

Three major test areas:

Fire Endurance testing

Explosive Hazard Testing

Fire Impact Testing


Fire Endurance Testing:

The Fire Endurance Test measures the degree of protection or resistance to exposure of heat for the contents of the safe.  Safes are rated into 3 categories based upon the maximum permitted internal temperature that the safe may reach.  Historically these tests were conducted using actual example material, but today only the test for paper is done with actual material.  No non-paper media is used, instead heat recording sensors are placed into the box.  This is because the wide scope of materials and products in this class is too large for UL test and guarantee it will work.   A rigorous test procedure is followed to ensure that the safe will meet the standards set forth in UL 72.  Below is a brief over view of the test.

The safe will filled with the subject test material in such a manner that test material is in contact with all 6 sides of the safe.  The safe is the placed into a cold test oven with the bottom of the safe resting on oven bottom and not subject to direct heating from the oven.  The oven is turned on and raised in temperature in accordance with the UL published test procedure until the target temperature for the oven is reached.  After the prescribed time has passed for the desired rating, the oven is turned off and the safe is required to cool for 30 minutes.

The cooling time is actually part of the Fire Endurance test.  Consider when you accidently touch something very hot like a stove or hot pot.  We are taught to IMMEDIATELY place the injured area under COLD water to prevent further damage.  Why?  Well the injured area can obtain high temperatures from the accident and if left un-treated will continue to transfer this heat to surrounding tissue causing further damage.  In the case of the Fire Endurance Test, this 30 minute wait is verifying that heat energy from the outer safe’s surface will not reach the internal contents of the safe after heat source is removed.

The next parameter that is looked at with the Fire Endurance Testing is the amount of time the safe is exposed to the heat at a set temperature.  The duration is normally between 30 minutes and 4 hours.

Fire Resistance Rating Table:

Rating Class


Class 125

Internal temperature of the safe has not exceeded 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  This standard is used to protect removable computer media, specifically Floppy Disks.  It has never been used to test CDs or DVDs but in theory these forms of media should be un harmed because they are known to tolerate much higher temperatures then a floppy disk.  These class ratings are used in conjunction with hour ratings such as: ½, 1, 2, 3, or 4.

Class 150

Internal temperature of the safe has not exceeded 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This standard is intended to protect EDP media (Magnetic Tapes) and photographic records.  These class ratings are used in conjunction with hour ratings such as: ½, 1, 2, 3, or 4.

Class 350

Internal temperature of the safe has not exceeded 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  This standard for paper records.  These class ratings are used in conjunction with hour ratings such as: ½, 1, 2, 3, or 4.

½, 1, 2, 3, 4

Represent the time duration in hours that a safe was subject to heat within the test oven.  For example a Class 125-4 would provide the greatest degree of fire protection


Explosive Hazard Testing:

Explosive Hazard testing is not a separate rating, but instead a required test in the fire resistive rating process.  In this test a safe is tested to determine if the design can withstand sudden intense contact with heat.  A faulty design can cause hydrogen-air-steam mixtures in the insulation to explode and rupture the insulation or even the safe walls.  These ruptures will eliminate the safes capacity to resist heat and protect the contents.  The test oven is pre-heated to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and the test safe is then inserted for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes the safe is removed, and lowed to cool and then inspected for damage.  It is important to note that the Explosive Hazard test is on the safe only and no measure is made of the internal temperature achieved during the test nor is any rating assigned to the degree of protection provided for items stored within the safe.


Fire Impact Testing:

Just like Explosive Hazard Testing, Fire Impact testing is not a separate rating but instead a required test in the fire resistive rating.  This test determines if a safe has the minimum required resistance to impact when in a heat state.  The test is designed to simulate a safe falling 3 floors, impacting the concrete floor of a basement, then lying there in the burning embers until they cool.  Once again, if you are installing a floor safe you will note that floor safes are not normally subjected to this type of testing.  The manufactures feel that it stands to reason that a floor safe will never be subjected to a fall.

In this test the applicable Fire Endurance Test is repeated for the duration and temperature required for the individual safe.  At the end of the test, the safe is extracted from the oven and dropped 30 feet to a bed created out of solid concrete and loose brick.  Once the safe has cooled enough to handle, it is reinserted into oven upside down and subjected to another Fire Endurance test IAW the desired rating.  At the end of the testing, the safe is allowed to cool and is opened.  The contents must be in a useable condition.


Environmental Rating:

Consider that you have valuable papers or even cash in a fire resistant floor safe on the ground floor of your home.  Now the place burns to the ground.  Upon investigation you open the floor safe to find that all the contents survived the fire, but have been sitting in soot clogged water for days!  Now the documents are useless.  This situation happens far too often.  My investigation turned up a good number of manufactures that indicate that their safes are water resistant.  Most seem to be a byproduct of the seals necessary to make the safe fire resistant.  As far as my research revealed, there does not appear to be any one standard for measuring the level of resistance the safe has to water.  It would however appear that the better or higher the fire resistance rating the, greater the resistance to water.  Either way, my advice is to pack those valuable documents into some kind of water tight container.  I spoke with one fellow that said he packed everything into a triple layer of zip lock bags.  My concern is that I believe ziplock bags will melt at a much lower temperature then the 350 degrees that Class 350 safe will protect against.

One idea I am investigating is if you have a Class 150 rated safe that is large enough to hold one or more of the Pelican Case 1470.  It will support temperatures up to 210 degrees F.  Your most critical papers and photos can be stored in the case, which is now placed within your safe.

Getting back to the topic at hand, which is of course, installing a floor safe.  One key environmental concern is that many floor safes installed in concrete of the base slab or in the basement can see issues with condensation.  Not only can this be of serious concern to the safe contents, but also the locking mechanism.  More will be discussed in that section.  I did come across a few manufactures that produced in floor safes with a polyethylene body.  These safes are designed to be placed into holes cut in the basement of ground floor slab and protect the inside from condensation rising up from below ground.


Types of locks:               

I am not going to spend a great deal of time discussing lock types because I believe these are really a matter of personal preference.  Most safes come with two methods for opening them.  The first is the combo lock which is a dial, or an electronic key pad.  The other is a back up or stand by key.  One thing about the key, make sure you have a copy in a very safe place, like a safety deposit box.  Especially if your safe has an electronic lock.  What kind of condition do you imagine the lock will be if you are pulling the safe out of a fire?  As for the other copy, please keep it secure as well.  With that key someone can open most safes without the combo.


Location – Safe Type:

While this site is about installing a floor safe, I would be negligent if I didn’t briefly discuss some of the more popular types:

Wall Safes – come in multiple sizes and depths.  Most are designed to be mounted to the wall studs and can be placed within a standard wall.  Most versions have a low burglary and fire resistance rating. Personally I feel that a wall safes true value is concealment.  If I was a thief, I am not sure I would waste time trying to open a wall safe.  Instead I would use a saw-all or other demolition tool that are easily obtained at Lowes or Home Depot and just cut the studs it is mounted to and carry the whole thing out the door.  But if you do not have the need for high security, this type of safe is just fine.

Shelf or Floor mounted – These types of safes can provide much greater protection and come in just about all levels of burglary and fire resistance ratings.  These are most secure when bolted to a concrete slab or floor.  These type of safes are more difficult to conceal then a wall safe, but I feel are a better protection.

Free Standing Safes – these types of safes are common in office spaces and are normally of a fire resistance type.  Security is low because they are not mounted and usually have a low burglary rating since their primary purpose it fire protection.

In Floor Safes – yes my favorite.  I believe everyone should consider installing a floor safe.  These combine the security of the floor mounted safe and the concealment capabilities of the wall safe.  Additionally since they are often mounted in a concrete shell, they offer additional security against burglary and fire.  But like all great things, these are often the most expensive and most difficult to install.