Buyers Guide / F.A.Qs



  1. A layman's guide to basic safe types
  2. What is a certified safe and do I need one?
  3. Are safes from internet dealers and DIY stores the bargains that they appear to be?
  4. Do you have an online shop?
  5. Which is better: Key or Combination locking?
  6. Where is the best place to install a safe in a private house?
  7. Should I buy a secondhand safe?
  8. Should I keep cash or valuables in a gun cabinet?
  9. I have a retail business. How can a safe protect against hold-up and staff fraud?


A layman's guide to basic safe types:-

Free Standing Safes, sometimes called floor standing safes, (Smaller sizes are sometimes referred to as cupboard safes or utility safes). Any Free Standing safe should be bolted securely to the structure of the building to prevent removal, unless it weighs over 500kgs. Most Free Standing safes are designed principally for burglary protection. Some may also offer limited protection in the event of fire, but small cupboard and utility safes, especially those of single skin construction will not. (A fire safe is a separate class of free standing safe - see below).

Wall Safes are less common than in years gone by, as they can be difficult to install neatly in an existing decorated property. Usually less well rated by insurers in comparison to free standing or underfloor safes.

Underfloor Safes are designed to be concreted into the floor, then concealed beneath a mat or other floor covering. An underfloor safe offers excellent security because it is the least likely type of safe to be found by an intruder. Also, only the small and immensely strong door is accessible, making it highly resistant to attack. An additional benefit is that the insulating concrete which surrounds the safe will give excellent protection in a fire. The disadvantages are that the small door size generally makes it unsuitable for bulky items, and it is generally less convenient to use. Also, installation can be messy and expensive in an existing property, and care must be taken to choose a location where ingress of water will not occur.

Security Cabinets a generic term for a metal cabinet designed to withstand an opportunist attack. Secure cabinets are normally designed for storage of specific items such as guns, drugs, keys, tools, etc.,

Fire Safes - A Free Standing safe designed specifically for protection of documents or computer media. Generally of lightweight construction, with insulation layers between the inner and outer walls. Most fire safes do not have any holes to permit bolting down, and offer very little burglary protection.

What is a certified safe and do I need one?

If you want the contents of your safe to be covered by insurance, you will need to choose one that is of an acceptable standard to your insurance company. They may stipulate a safe that is certified to a European Certification Board (ECB) standard. A certified safe will always have an identification plate stating the level of certification. The common ECB certification grades, along with their 'overnight cash' limits are as follows:-

EN 14450  S1     £2000
           "  S2     £4000
EN1153  Gr 0     £6000
       "  Gr 1  £10,000
       "  Gr 2  £17,500
       "  Gr 3  £35,000
       "  Gr 4  £60,000

Limits for Jewellery and non-cash items are generally a multiple of 10 x the cash rating. Aside from the ECB scheme, many UK insurers negotiate ratings unilaterally with manufacturers. This is particularly common in the case of underfloor safes, which are much more prevalent in the UK than in mainland Europe. It should be noted that insurance companies will always look at individual circumstances (such as geographical location, and previous claims experience) before agreeing cover limits, so it is advisable to consult your insurer before making a purchase.

Separate certifications exist for Fire Safes. Again, there are ECB standards, but many Fire Safes are manufactured outside the E.U, and there are various other certifying bodies around the world. All will generally quote a level of protection in minutes, and it is important to note whether the certification is for paper documents or data media, as the latter require a higher degree of insulation.

Are safes from internet dealers and DIY stores the bargains that they appear to be?

In recent years the market has seen a proliferation of low cost 'safes' mostly made in China, but do not be mislead into thinking that your valuables will be fully protected by a safe costing £50. Chinese digital locks in particular are notoriously easy to open, and videos showing various methods can be found on You Tube. The best that can be said for these products is that they are marginally more secure than the dressing table drawer. Even if you do not require an insurance certified safe, there are still good reasons to buy from a traditional locksmith or safe specialist. They will have the experience and expertise to recommend the right product for your particular requirements, along with a professional installation service if needed, and most importantly, readily available after sales service. Modern safes are generally reliable, but keys do get lost, electronics are not infallible, and that 'cheap' bargain may turn out to be a false economy.

Do you have an online shop?

No. Following on from the question above, we believe that a safe is a long term purchase, and we like to do business the old fashioned way - we talk to our customers to guide them through the buying process. If you want a supplier close to your own locality don't be put off - we have a wide network of trade contacts throughout the U.K. and Ireland who stock and supply our products.

Which is better for me: key or combination locking?

For resistance to burglary, there is little difference between key or combination locks (with the exception of cheap Chinese made digital locks, most of which can be manipulated very easily). Most key operated locks can be picked by expert locksmiths with specialist tools, but the incidence of criminals picking locks nowadays is negligible. From from a user's perspective however, there are pros and cons to each lock type. A key lock is inexpensive and very reliable. A mechanical (dial type) combination lock is also reliable, and saves carrying a key (which could be lost or copied). However, these can be cumbersome to operate and unsuitable for people with, for example, arthritis, who do not have a steady hand. An electronic digital lock has a higher initial cost, and will require new batteries once or twice a year, but is easy to use. The biggest benefit of any combination lock, mechanical or electronic, is the facility to reset the code periodically to maintain security. This is most advantageous in commercial premises, where it is likely that several people will be using the safe, and there is greater likelihood of a key being lost, or a code becoming known by an unauthorised person. Modern electronic locks also provide other benefits for commercial users, such as multiple user/manager codes, time delay locking, and audit trail facilities. Biometric (fingerprint) locks are also becoming available, at increasingly affordable prices, and with all the features that a commercial user would need. To summarise, we generally recommend electronic locks for commercial safes, but for domestic clients, it is a matter of personal preference.

Where is the best place to install a safe in a private house?

Many people try to hide a safe where they think a burglar will not find it. But if you want to keep jewellery, you must consider whether you actually use a safe that is located under the stairs or in the garage. The most convenient place for a jewellery safe is in the bedroom, and provided the safe can be securely fixed to the structure of the building, preferably inside a cupboard or fitted wardrobe, this is usually the best option. There are many modern certified safes available which are light enough to be installed upstairs without the need for specialist lifting equipment. However, if you really do want a safe that is completely concealed, and also offers outstanding resistance to attack, you should seriously consider an underfloor safe. Underfloor safes can only be installed in a ground floor, although this need not necessarily be a solid concrete floor. Small underfloor safes will fit between the joists of a timber floor.

Should I buy a secondhand safe?

Buying a reconditioned safe from a reputable safe engineer can offer good value. Indeed, many safes made in the 1970s, 80s and 90s by British manufacturers such as Chubb, Dudley, SMP and Tann, were heavier and better built than their modern equivalents. Buying from a private seller is much more risky as it is difficult for the layman to assess the quality and condition of a safe, particularly an old obsolete model. In particular, beware of very old 'antique' safes which may be of riveted construction, as opposed to welded, and are deceptively easy to break open. Also, do not buy a old safe which has only one key, and if considering a safe with an electronic lock, bear in mind that even good quality certified digital locks can fail after about 10 years, sometimes less if they have been used intensively. The cost of dealing with a lockout could end up being more than you paid for the safe.....

Should I keep cash or valuables in a gun cabinet?

Most gun cabinets are made to the British BS7558 standard, which only requires the cabinet to withstand a brief attack using basic hand tools. This type of cabinet is not suitable for keeping high value items, although we are now offering a range of high security gun cabinets, certified to EN11450 or EN 1153 which can be used as a general purpose safe.

I have a retail business and am concerned about the risk of armed hold-up and staff fraud. How can a safe reduce these risks?

We offer a large range of deposit safes and cash management products designed to protect against all retail risks. Which products are best for you will depend on individual circumstances, so we suggest you contact us for an initial discussion without obligation.