The ultimate guide to the best home safes for valuables

person unlocking a home safe

Danny Baggs

Posted March 15, 2024

Home safes are a great way to protect your valuables and important documents from theft. Here’s what you need to know about home safes, and how to buy the best home safe.

As burglaries rise across Victoria, some homeowners are turning to home safes to protect their valuables. Read on to learn why you should own a safe, what features to consider when buying a safe, how much safes cost, and how to install a home safe.

Kirsty Hayes, RACV's Head of Home & Business Insurance, says that home safes could help to protect your valuables. "Theft of valuables or identification documents is a real concern for many Victorians," she says. "Home safes can help to mitigate that concern."

What you need to know about home safes

Why you should own a safe

Most people own a home safe to protect their valuables and important documents from theft, fire and flood.

Particularly valuable items are often stored for safety, such as expensive jewellery, currency, loose gemstones, and spare keys. Important identification or financial documents can also be stored in home safes. Wills, birth certificates, passports, title deeds, health documents and insurance policies are all examples of crucial documents. You may have digital copies, but it’s important to protect the originals. You may also want to store USBs or portable hard drives with important information in the safe.

If you own any firearms, Victorian law requires you to store them in a purpose-built steel storage receptacle with a thickness of at least 1.6 millimetres. It must be bolted to the structure of the premises if the receptacle weighs less than 150 kilograms when empty and locked with a lock of sturdy construction. A home safe can fit all these requirements. You can even place your valuables in the same safe – except for ammunition, which must be stored in a separate locked container.


person unlocking a small portable home safe

Small, portable home safes like this are too easy to lift and take. Image: Getty

How to buy a home safe: what to look out for

"There are a few features to look for when buying a safe," Kirsty says. "Look for a solid steel construction, sturdy locks, and a high cash rating. Consider whether you want your safe to be fire-resistant or water-resistant too."


Home safes can use several types of locks. These include:

  • Key locks – this lock is like a door lock, with a key required to open. Of course, skilled thieves could pick the lock, and you would have to be careful not to lose the key.

  • Dial locks – a dial or combination lock is a reliable, if old-school, mechanical lock that you twist to input the correct numbers. You will have the remember the code, which usually cannot be changed.

  • Electronic locks – digital or electronic locks have a keypad and display screen. You can set your own combination and change it as necessary. Some models even time-out after too many failed attempts to enter the code, for extra security. But like any electronics, a digital lock will fail if the battery dies, or the power is cut. 

Ideally, your safe will use a combination of these locks.


It’s important to ensure that your home safe can’t easily be opened by a burglar with a screwdriver, hammer or crowbar. Having a great lock is of little use when the safe’s walls are flimsy enough to break through, or if its locking bolts are weak enough to snap.

First, make sure your safe is large enough to store all the documents and valuables that you want inside. Next, ensure that your home safe has thick steel walls and doors. Ideally, it should also be too heavy to be easily carried away and broken into at another location. A mid-range safe commonly weighs between 40 and 80 kilograms, while a high-security safe could weigh over 200 kilograms.

Cash rating (theft rating)

Home safes are often sold with a ‘cash rating’, which can be interpreted as the anti-theft quality of the safe: the higher the rating, the more secure the safe.

Cash ratings are usually expressed in a dollar value, and typically range from $2,000 up to $50,000. Cheap safes may not have a cash rating at all.

Many cash ratings are not independently verified, so use them as a guide rather than a guarantee.

Fire rating

A home safe’s fire rating tells you how long it should protect its contents when subjected to heat and flame. A minimum fire rating is for 30 minutes, but aim for at least a 60-minute rating to give emergency services more time to completely put out the fire.

Fire ratings should also be treated as a guide rather than a guarantee, since home safe manufacturers may not independently verify their tests.

Keep in mind that highly rated anti-theft safes may have a poor fire rating, or no fire rating at all. That’s because thicker steel walls absorb more heat.

Flood rating

Many safes claim to be water-resistant, or even waterproof. At the least, a fire-rated home safe should be resistant to water ingress, to resist fire hoses or in-ceiling sprinklers.

A properly waterproof safe should be able to resist flooding.

TDR rating

Torch and drill resistant (TDR) safes provide very high protection against theft. They can resist power drills, grinders, oxy-acetylene torches, and sometimes even explosives. Make sure to check whether a safe’s TDR rating relates to its door or the entire safe.

A TDR rating is not required for the average home safe owner. TDR safes are very expensive, and usually only necessary for people with extremely valuable goods.


person opening a durable home safe

Home safes should ideally be installed by a professional. Image: Getty

Average cost of a home safe

Safes can cost anywhere between $40 to more than $2000 depending on their features and ratings.

Basic safes cost between $50 and $200, while a safe with good theft and fire ratings that’s capable of storing a moderate amount of your valuables costs more than $700. Professional, high-end safes with high TDR ratings start at about $1,500.

Getting your safe professionally installed will likely cost a few hundred dollars in addition.

Where to install a home safe

Your home safe should be installed out of sight so that it’s harder for would-be burglars to find. Ideal locations include in a wardrobe, under the stairs, or in the basement.

It should also be in a corner: this will make it harder to lever out.

Concrete or brick are the best materials to anchor a safe to.

Avoid rooms with humidity or dampness problems (mould is a tell-tale sign), which can rust the safe over time. 

How to install a home safe

Safes aren’t easy to install. For example, any safe that weighs under 300kg should be anchored to a floor or wall with specific bolts, and possibly a steel reinforcing plate. The anchor bolts will have to avoid any plumbing or electrical wiring. They may even require concrete to be jackhammered.

"Having a professional install your home safe ensures that your safe will be properly and securely installed," says Kirsty.


Keep your precious items protected.
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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.