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Best home safes 2021: The best cheap safes and fire-resistant options

Best home safes 2021: The best cheap safes and fire-resistant options
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Buying one of the best home safes is a great way to ensure peace of mind when it comes to your most valuable possessions. The models we’ve reviewed are capable of holding cash, documents, jewelry, or even your licensed gun, so you can add another layer of security to your home.

Safes are varied in their design, so it’s important you pick one out that’s suited to your valuables. Size is one consideration, with some models even specially catered to fit items such as handguns and others being smaller and therefore perfect for items like jewelry. Another consideration is how you’ll get access to the safe, with fingerprint recognition, manual locking, and keypad authorization all possible options to choose from. 

Prices for a small safe set can start from around $50-$70 and are most appropriate for storing away compact items. If you need something more heavy-duty, then you can expect to pay up to $1000 for your safe, as there will be higher quality materials and further reinforcements protecting your goods. Fire-resistant and water-resistant home safes are excellent for protecting yourself against the worst that might occur, especially when it comes to important documents or cash. Lots of the best safes also come with fallback measures, so you’ll be able to access your possessions with a spare key even if you forget your passcode. 

Available from brands such as Barska, First Alert, and Sentry Safe, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to the best safes. So before you pick out the one for you, be sure to take some time to note how many levels of protection you’d like, where you’re going to store it, and what you can fit into it too. For more ways to protect yourself and keep your home safe, check out the best wireless security cameras and the best outdoor security cameras.   

1. Barska AX11620 Compact Biometric: Best small mountable safe 

Best home safe 2020

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Barska AX11620 Compact Biometric

A reliable safe with fingerprint technology.

 Fingerprint locking mechanism 
 Not fire-resistant 
 Not water-resistant 
 Too small for some uses 

This durable safe has two strong steel bolts that secure the door using a motorized locking mechanism, and the body is composed of high-integrity steel. The safe can be unlocked using the built in fingerprint, which is able to store up to 30 fingerprint patterns, in case anyone needs to access it for you during an emergency. The scanner is a nice way to unlock the safe because you don't need to remember a combination code or use a key. However, the safe comes with backup keys in case the fingerprint scanner's battery dies or stops working.

This safe is small and lightweight, weighing only 12 pounds. The interior dimensions aren't very large but it is ideal for small items such as handguns, passports, and jewelry. Bear in mind that this safe is neither fire-resistant nor waterproof, so it won't protect valuables from flooding or fire.

2.  First Alert 2087F-BD: Best fire resistant safe 

Best home safe 2020

(Image credit: Home Depot)

First Alert 2087F-BD

A great home safe that is both fire resistant and waterproof.

Dial combination lock 
No hanging file rack
Too small for some uses

The First Alert 2087F-BD is a fire-resistant safe that can withstand temperatures up to 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit for up to an hour. During this time, the interior stays under 350 degrees Fahrenheit so important papers don't burn. This home safe is also waterproof.

The safe is made of resin and uses four steel bolts to secure the door with hidden, pry-resistant hinges. You can unlock the door with a dial-type combination lock. These features help this home safe to protect all your important documents.

The First Alert 2087F-BD weighs 82 pounds, making it difficult for one person to move. You do however, have the option to bolt it down to further discourage burglary. The mounting bolts come with the safe and won't affect its waterproofing.

The First Alert 2087F-BD is a medium-size safe that is nearly twice as large as the Barska. The inside has an adjustable shelf, a key rack and a door pocket. 

3. Stealth Tactical Original Handgun Safe: Best handgun safe 

Best home safe 2020

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Stealth Tactical Original Handgun Safe

A heavy duty safe with dense interior padding.

Heavy duty construction
Foam padding keeps gun in one place
Push-button combination lock
Not designed to store items other than handguns
Not fire or water resistant 
Expensive compared to safes of a similar size

The Stealth Tactical Original Handgun Safe is made of heavy-duty 10-gauge black steel and weighs around 24 pounds, making it a heavy safe for its size, though you can carry it easily using the built-in handle. The door is secured with a Simplex Lock that's surrounded by a steel casing and does not use batteries.

Since there is no risk of dead batteries, you always have access to your weapon in an emergency. The pistons and hinges are hidden inside the safe, making it resistant to forced entry. You can bolt the safe to a shelf for extra security. At around $230 – almost $100 more than the Barska AX11620 Compact Biometric Safe – it offers 50% more space with an estimated capacity of 0.16 cubic feet.

To prevent your handgun from shifting inside the safe, it comes with dense foam padding that conforms to the shape of your weapon. However, because the padding takes up the space around your gun, you can’t easily store other items in the safe. It’s worth noting that this safe doesn’t protect your weapon from fires or flooding.

4.  SentrySafe X055: Best value home safe  

Best home safe 2020

(Image credit: Home Depot)

SentrySafe X055

The SentrySafe offers a robust home safe without a hefty price tag.

Good value
Not fire or water resistant 

SentrySafe is a great budget safe that features a digital keypad. It has an interior of 0.58-cubic-feet, perfect for storing jewelry, money, and small collectibles.

The digital locking mechanism is controlled by a keypad, and two spare keys are included in case you forget your combination.

Even though it’s a budget home safe, the SentrySafe is made of strong steel and can be bolted down with the included hardware. Because it is so small, it is not a good option for documents, hanging folders or hooks. While it is neither fire-resistant or waterproof, this safe is certified by the California DOJ for firearm storage.

5. Paragon 7775: Best home safe warranty  

Best home safe 2020

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Paragon 7775

A great, large home safe with an impressive 10 year warranty.

It has a 10-year warranty 
The safe is not waterproof or fire-resistant 

The Paragon 7775 is constructed of thick 11-gauge solid steel to resist hand and mechanical tool attacks. For extra safety, you can bolt it down with the included hardware to make it even more difficult for would-be burglars.

The hinges are tamper-proof and on the inside of the door. The interior floor has carpet padding to reduce the chance of scratching your jewelry or other valuables and a small shelf helps you make better use of the 1.8 cubic foot of storage space. We are impressed with the 10-year warranty from Paragon, much longer than the average home safe warranty. The digital keypad is battery powered and you can change your password an infinite number of times. Fortunately, spare keys are included in case you forget your pass code.

How we tested home safes

We aren't able to conduct home safe testing in our lab because we lack the facilities to adequately and safely assess each product's resistance to physical attacks, fire and water damage. While these destructive testing methods may be useful in gauging each product's effectiveness, we don't think it would reveal much more than UL classifications and manufacturer specifications.

While we consider UL-listed safes to be superior to unlisted models, we also recognize that most of the popular models you can buy online fall into the latter group as they are more affordable. As such, the safes we chose to evaluate only have the most basic level of security, which is better than none at all.

Because of this, we don't score the safes in our review, though we still conducted thorough research to help you decide which brand or type of safe is best for your needs. Our recommendations stick to affordable models that work for most homeowners but may not be large enough or offer the best features of an all-in-one safe. For more secure, full-featured models, we suggest speaking with a seller in your area specializing in safes.

Burglary-resistant safes

If you are serious about protecting your valuables against burglary, you should consider a safe that is UL-listed for that purpose. Underwriters Laboratories ratings reflect the construction quality of a safe and are based on how long it would take a burglar to force it open. The minimum level of protection and lowest rating, Residential Security Container, is not really considered a safe as it means the container only resists weak attacks for five minutes and is relatively easy to break into. However, UL's other ratings, UL TL-15 and UL TL-30, mean the safe can withstand strong attacks, including power tools, for 15 and 30 minutes respectively.

Most safes you can buy online or in retail stores don't provide much resistance against burglars, though Tarsila Wey from First Alert suggests safes with programmable digital locks and concealed pry-resistant hinges offer more security than those that don’t. Storing your valuables in a home safe does at least discourage impulse and opportunity thefts. For the security of major assets, however, we recommend visiting a locksmith or a store that specializes in safes, or getting a lockbox at your bank.

Fire-resistant safes

If protecting key documents from fire is your main concern, get a model that has been UL classified for fire resistance. In order to earn a UL classification, a safe must keep an internal temperature below 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, even if the outside temperature reaches 1,700 degrees. Safes that last two hours at 1,850 degrees earn a higher rating. Many cheap fire chests are UL classified for 30 minutes at 1,550 degrees. Of the safes we evaluated, only the First Alert 2087F-BD is UL listed for fire resistance.

What to consider when buying a home safe

Locking mechanism of the safe

Some safes have one basic locking device, while others are equipped with as many as four, such as basic key entry, combination dial entry, digital combination pad entry and fingerprint recognition entry. While it's important to choose a lock style that best fits your needs and preferences, each lock type has weaknesses. For example, digital locks have trouble if the batteries die, and burglars can force the lock using the slot for the backup key. Likewise, manual locks can be susceptible to lock picking. Remember, if a safe has a UL listing for burglary resistance, its lock will reflect that.

Size and weight of the home safe

A UL-listed steel safe might be impenetrable, but it could be too bulky and heavy for what you need. It also might not be a good fit in second-story rooms (imagine carrying a 700-pound safe upstairs) or if you relocate often and want to take the safe to your new home.

Ultimately, the size you choose comes down to what you want to put inside. Small safes are ideal for securing documents and small jewelry. Likewise, medium-size safes are better if you need more room. 

Regardless of the size, it's a good idea to get a safe that bolts to your floor or a shelf in order to prevent thieves from taking it elsewhere to open.

Safes without moisture buildup

Moisture can sometimes build up and harm papers, guns, jewelry and other items. It might be a good idea to put some small packets of moisture-absorbing desiccant materials in your safe. You can buy these online. If you live in a particularly humid climate, using a dehumidifier is another way to help maintain your safe both inside and out.

Sophie Bird

Sophie is Home Editor at Top Ten Reviews. Starting off her career in print journalism, Sophie then moved to digital and now specializes in lifestyle, home interiors and social media. While she has scooped awards for her journalism, Sophie likes to whip up a storm in the kitchen when she's not writing.