At some point in life, many people come into possession of things that they want to protect at all costs. Once that point is reached, the consideration of acquiring a safe is not far away. Safes are a classic and increasingly secure option for storing your valuable possessions. Especially wall safes, i.e. safes built into the wall, are an excellent choice for private households.
In this wall safe test at the end of 2021, we want to give you all the information you need to find the wall safe that's right for you. There are several factors to consider before buying, from the security class to the correct installation. We will also show you the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of locks.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Wall Safe: Our Picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a wall safe
- 5 Decision: Which type of wall safe is right for me?
- 6 Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate wall safes
- 7 Things to know about wall safes
The most important facts
- Wall safes are a very secure form of safe for both private and commercial use. Once the safe is in the wall, burglars have little chance of stealing your valuable possessions.
- As secure as a wall safe is, installation is not completely straightforward at first. There are a few factors to consider so that the safe can be successfully installed.
- In order to find the right wall safe for you, the basic question is which of your important items should be stored safely in it. Once you have found an answer and are aware of the hurdle of installation, you can make the perfect choice.
The Best Wall Safe: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a wall safe
How secure is a wall safe?
Since a wall safe is built into the wall, not only does the solid steel housing protect your valuables, but also the brickwork surrounding the safe. Reinforced concrete therefore already covers 5 sides of the wall safe and only the armoured safe door is visible. A safe in the wall thus offers a minimal attack surface for unauthorised persons.
Taking away the safe, which is usually the case in the case of theft, becomes almost impossible due to the nature of the wall safe and would only be feasible with considerable effort. In addition, the built-in safe offers you the possibility of hiding it behind a piece of furniture or disguising it as something else.
Wall safes are available in different security levels as well as fire protection classes. Therefore, it is very individual which version is best for you. These and other points will be discussed later in this article.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a wall safe?
Since a wall safe is very secure for private use, but first requires a hole to be drilled in the wall for installation, it is more suitable for homeowners. However, this can be a sensible purchase for the future.
What alternatives are there to a wall safe?
- Furniture safes: These are usually smaller safes that can be screwed into furniture. They are also relatively well camouflaged when screwed into a cupboard. Such safes are often found in hotel rooms.
- Document safes: Mostly free-standing safes to protect important documents. Large companies resort to fireproof filing cabinets here. For private use, the smaller versions are usually sufficient.
- Gun safes: If you have to deal with firearms in any way, they must be stored in a particularly secure way so that no unauthorised persons or minors have access. This is a legal requirement in most countries. Gun safes can be screwed to the back wall and to the floor.
- Key safes: are suitable for the safe storage of several important keys. They are usually found in larger companies. For private use, important keys such as the key to the gun cabinet or the car keys can be stored here.
Tip: With a free-standing safe, there is a risk that it will simply be taken away. A safe that is screwed into the cabinet can sometimes be easily broken out. This form of theft is common with safes. To prevent this, the safe should either be heavy enough or a wall safe should be used.
How do I install a wall safe?
In general, it is more practical to plan the wall safe before the walls are actually raised. It is possible to install a wall safe at a later date, but you should bear in mind that most interior walls are "only" 24 cm thick. Since a wall safe must be surrounded by 10 cm of reinforced concrete for correct anchoring, there is hardly any space left for the safe.
Decision: Which type of wall safe is right for me?
To find the right safe for you, you should basically ask yourself what you want to store in the wall safe. If it's things like your passport or other documents, a small, not too expensive safe might be enough. For expensive jewellery, you may want to spend a little more money on security.
Once you know which items you want to keep safe, it is much easier to choose the size, security and price of the built-in safe. Another important factor in deciding on the right wall safe is the type of lock mechanism. This is where, in addition to security elements, individual preferences for use come into play.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of locks?
In the following section, we would like to introduce you to the advantages and disadvantages of the different locks for safes. Basically, a distinction is made between locks with a key and locks that are opened with a numerical code.
The double-bit lock
This is the "classic" lock with a key. By default, a wall safe with this lock comes with two keys. If another one is needed, it can be requested from the dealer.
In general, it is advisable not to carry the safe key on your normal key ring.
The electronic combination lock
This type of lock is a convenient alternative because the wall safe is opened by entering a PIN code. The power supply is usually provided by batteries. Even though wall safes with this type of lock are somewhat more expensive, this does not mean that they are more secure. The higher price merely refers to the more elaborate type of lock.
In addition to the electronic combination lock, there is now also an electronic version using a fingerprint. Here you scan in your fingerprint and use it to open the safe.
The mechanical combination lock
Here the safe is opened by entering a numerical code using a 3 or 4-disc lock. With the 3-disc lock, three two-digit numbers must be entered as a code on the setting disc. In the case of a 4-disc lock, there are accordingly four.
Even though it is often shown in films, high-quality mechanical combination locks cannot be picked by "eavesdropping".
The electronic combination lock with emergency key
This variant offers a compromise between the different types of locks. Here, both a PIN code can be entered via the keypad and a key can be used for a double-bit lock. The advantages of the two types complement each other, while some of the disadvantages are mutually exclusive.
Even though this variant is a practical intermediate solution, wall safes with this type of lock are often more expensive. In addition, care must be taken not only to ensure that the code does not become known to unauthorised persons, but also that the key is well stored.
Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate wall safes
In the following, we will show you some criteria that you can use to identify the best wall safe for your purposes. As already mentioned above, your final decision depends a lot on what you want to protect. In general, it is helpful to know about the following points before buying:
- Security levels
- Type of lock
- Fire resistance
- Price-security ratio
- Suitable wall available in the house
- Spare key included
These points are discussed in more detail below.
The various security levels for safes are regulated by fixed standards. These are now the European standards EN-1143-1 and EN-14450. The old standard according to VDMA 24992 (class A and class B) are no longer state of the art and are therefore no longer officially approved.
The approximate time required to break open each security level is measured in so-called RU(resistant units) so that an exact duration is not recognisable. If particularly valuable objects are to be stored in the wall safe, you should consider choosing a relatively high security level.
This not only indicates the extent to which unauthorised opening is made more difficult, but also the degree to which your valuables are insured. The higher the security level, the higher the amount of reimbursement after burglary. Below you will find a description of the security levels according to EN-1143-1 (test standard) and EN-14450 (burglary protection standard):
|S1 and S2 (EN-1143-1)||Represent the two lower security levels. Safes of this type are often also called security cabinets. They withstand violent impact and light fires|
|0||All safes from level 0 onwards have the burglary protection standard, i.e. they have tested and certified resistance to mechanical and thermal attacks|
|1||It takes the same amount of time to drill a hole in the wall safe of this level as it does for level 0. However, it takes longer to open it completely _COPY0|
|2-6||The resistance level now increases permanently. From level 6, some safes already have an RU of 400, while those of level 0, for example, have an RU of approx. 30. Explosion protection is also possible with high levels|
For insurance purposes, a distinction must be made as to whether the wall safe is used for private or commercial purposes. This also has an effect on the insured sum. For an exact value, it is recommended to consult the respective insurance company. Safes according to the old VDMA 24992 standard are usually no longer automatically insured. Here, too, you should consult the insurer before buying.
Type of lock
The different types of locks are discussed in detail in the decision section above. Basically, you should ask yourself which type of lock suits you best. Here are a few suggestions:
- Do you like to misplace things and can't easily find them again? Then an electronic combination lock might be practical.
- Do you have to remember so many PINs and codes that you don't know which one belongs to which? Then a classic safe with a double-bit lock might be a good choice.
- You don't necessarily trust technology, but you don't want to keep an eye on a key? A safe with a mechanical combination lock might be an idea.
- Can't really decide which type of lock is right for you? Then a combination of electronic and key lock might be the right version.
The fire resistance of a safe describes how long it can withstand the effects of very high heat without damaging the contents. This becomes particularly important if there are important paper documents in the wall safe or, for example, some form of data carrier.
Wall safes are usually equipped with a light fire protection. However, this only means that flames do not come into direct contact with the contents. Wall safes are therefore less suitable for flammable items. If enormous heat poses an acute danger to the contents of the safe, an alternative should be used and the fire protection classes should be observed.
- Depending on the fire protection class, the resistance to fire can range from 30min to 120min
- For document cabinets, a "P" after the certification indicates protection for paper, the "DIS" marking indicates protection for data media.
Fire resistance goes hand in hand with safety against extinguishing water, so there is no need to worry too much about this. For more information on fire protection, please refer to the VdS guidelines 0691, 3134-1 and 2333 as well as the ECB-S recommendations.
Generally speaking, the more money spent, the more you get back, in this case security, also applies to wall safes. This does not mean that the cheaper versions are not secure. Depending on what is to be stored, a small and inexpensive wall safe can already do a good job.
You should find out in advance what trustworthy manufacturers and well-known brands of wall safes are, as their products are most likely to be officially certified. This way you get the most security for your money.
In the end, it is up to you to decide which price is really "appropriate" for the level of security.
The size of wall safes is generally more limited than other safes. This is simply because it is built into the wall. Rarely do walls in private homes give the opportunity to install a large wall safe, especially if it is retrofitted. As a rule, wall safes vary in size between those that are large enough for some jewellery or money and those that can fit a few file folders. If you want to store larger things, a free-standing safe is an alternative, as these can be much larger.
Suitable wall available in the house
In addition to the suitable thickness of the wall, its load-bearing capacity must be taken into account. The wall must have at least a certain degree of load-bearing capacity so that installation is possible. Installation in a brick wall is possible in most cases for wall safes. A pure anchoring of a free-standing safe would not be possible with brick.
If the wall safe is installed later, unfortunately many interior house walls are not suitable because they are simply not thick enough). It is not advisable to install it in an exterior wall of a house, as there may be problems with the statics and the safe would conduct cold to the inside.
Since the thickness of wall safes varies between 120mm and 580mm, but many interior walls are only 240mm thick, there may be obstacles here. Often only walls near a fireplace, the roof truss or a staircase are thick enough for installation. When considering where to install a wall safe, it is therefore advisable to go through the house with an expert for possible walls. Ideally, the installation of a wall safe should be planned before the house is built.
Spare key included
The only thing to look out for here is whether a spare key is included in case of an emergency. This is not always the case, especially with large online dealers. If nothing more specific is given, check the comments on the website.
Things to know about wall safes
What is the best way to camouflage or hide my wall safe?
Of all the types of safes, a built-in wall safe is basically the best for camouflaging or hiding. It is best that only you know about the safe anyway, so that no one even gets the idea that your most valuable possessions are stored somewhere. Even though hiding behind a picture is certainly very popular (especially in films), you should rather choose another form of camouflage.
Behind a cupboard, for example, with a sliding rear wall. This way, the safe is optimally camouflaged and also difficult to access. For the sliding back wall, it is best to talk to a local carpenter (but do not necessarily mention the reason for the conversion). There are wall safes that look like an electrical socket from the front (see products above) and thus fool one or two people.
Can any safe be cracked?
Basically, unfortunately, it has to be said here: Yes. There is no safe in the world that is impossible to crack. However, safes make a burglary extremely unlikely, as a successful thieves' raid is only associated with considerable effort and thus also danger For private use, however, wall safes are pretty much the safest option.
In most burglaries in which safes play a role, they are not even broken into on site, but simply taken away. This is very difficult to achieve with a wall safe, for example. Of course, the burglars could knock it out of the wall with heavy tools. But this takes a long time and the neighbours should suspect something at the latest when they hear a lot of noise.
So if you don't want to buy a free-standing safe that weighs 200 kilograms, a wall safe is a good choice for burglary protection.
I have lost the code or the key, what can I do?
If you lose the key, you can usually use the spare key, which you should store in a safe place.
However, if the key is also lost, there are several ways to open the wall safe:
- Contact the manufacturer/seller: You may get a solution to your problem here, although no guarantee is given. This depends on the manufacturer.
- Request an expert for a professional opening: The expert can open the safe for you without damaging it too much. Extra tools have been developed for this purpose. Experts can also open electronic locks if you have forgotten the code.
- Opening the safe with your own force: is usually not advisable. Unless the wall safe meets very low security standards anyway, you won't get very far here either. Then you have no choice but to choose one of the other options.
Can I install a wall safe in my rented flat?
Generally speaking, this is not possible. In the best case, the landlord has already installed a wall safe. If you explicitly want a built-in safe, you should discuss this with the landlord directly.
Can I also install a wall safe in the floor?
There are also safes that are embedded in the floor, which are then called floor safes, as you can imagine. In most cases, they are also smaller and sometimes more expensive than a wall safe. Like wall safes, floor safes offer good protection against theft because they cannot simply be carried away. However, their installation is as complex as that of a wall safe.
They can also be camouflaged well, e.g. by means of a carpet or piece of furniture. Since safes built into the floor are often smaller, they are more suitable for valuables such as jewellery or cash. For more information on floor safes, please contact the manufacturer or dealer directly.
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