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Barrington's Guide to Choosing and Buying the Right Safe

If you’re looking to buy a safe to keep your cash or valuables secure then you’ll probably be wondering what is the best safe to buy. How do you know what you should be looking for, and how do you decide which is the best safe for you?

There are many things to consider when looking for a new or second hand safe. Selecting the right safe is essential for your insurance, its final position, purpose and security. We know safes inside and out, so here’s our expert opinion on choosing the right safe for your home, office or business.

Cash rating

The cash rating of a safe is simply the amount of cash an insurance company will cover you to hold in your safe. Cash rating is also commonly known as ‘overnight cash rating’. Cash ratings start from £1,000, £2,000, £3,000, £4,000, £5,000 and go up to £250,000. The rating for other valuables like jewellery is always 10 times the cash rating. So for example a safe with a £10,000 cash rating will be allow you protection for up to £100,000 of jewellery or other valuables. Always check with your insurance company how much cover they need you to have.

Euro graded safes

Insurance companies may also insist on a Euro graded safe, and they follow a simple number system:

  • Grade 0 - £6,000 cash -  £60,000 valuables.
  • Grade 1 - £10,000 cash - £100,000 valuables.
  • Grade 2 - £17,500 cash - £175,000 valuables.
  • Grade 3 - £35,000 cash - £350,000 valuables.
  • Grade 4 - £60,000 cash - £600,000 valuables.
  • Grade 5 - £100,000 cash - £1,000,000 valuables.
  • Grade 6 - £150,000 cash - £1,500,000 valuables.
  • Grade 7 - £250,000 cash - £2,500,000 valuables.

The AiS (Association of Insurance Surveyors) are the UK’s safe accreditation body. Many insurance companies will insist on your safe being AIS approved. Most Euro graded safes are AiS approved, but always check with your supplier.


It’s important to remember that all safes need to be installed and fitted professionally to meet with insurance companies’ approval. Many modern safes are very light which is a benefit for fitting to upper floors, but also means they are easier to carry away. Secure fitting and installation is a determining factor when it comes to a claim.

Size matters!

OK, so size may not matter in some instances, but when it comes to choosing a safe it’s essential. Factors to consider when buying a safe can include:

  • External size - consider the space that your safe will or won’t go into. Sizes of safes are usually given in millimetres (mm) and will tell you the height, width, and depth of the safe. Ensure you have space and that the door will open easily, and check to see if the safe has external hinges which will also affect its position and operation.
  • Internal size – what do you need to store inside your safe? Will it fit? The internal size will differ depending on the type of safe. The more secure, graded or heavy, the thicker the wall of the safe, and the less space it will have inside. Many safes are designed to store specific items such as laptops, files or other items. Always check you can actually fit your valuables inside!
  • Weight – the weight of a safe will vary hugely, so consider this when choosing a safe. The heavier the safe, the more secure. But the heavier the safe, the less likely it will be able to be positioned on a first floor or higher as the building joists may not take the weight. Heavy safes are better suited to ground floors and also will ensure you don’t have a hefty installation cost to get your safe upstairs.

Locking options – key, mechanical combination or electronic?

There are three options you need to consider when choosing a safe. The lock can be the most expensive part of a safe, and when you consider this is all that keeps a thief from your valuables, you can understand why.
Here’s what you need to know about locking choices:

Key locks

  • Easy to use
  • Very reliable
  • Can be stolen
  • Long and awkward to carry
  • Easily lost and expensive to replace
  • Losing a key can result in having to change the lock – very expensive!

Mechanical combination locks

  • Three of four number combinations
  • Take longer to open
  • No keys to lose
  • Very reliable.

Electronic lock

  • Very easy to use
  • Easy to change the combination
  • Allows multiple users to have access
  • No keys to lose
  • Most are battery operated
  • Electronic locks must be fitted by a qualified engineer.

Fire protection

Most modern safes have a 30 - 60 minute fire protection for paper, although some safes will offer more depending on their design and type. Fire protection will keep your valuable documents safe from harm in the event of a fire, and can withstand intense heat until the fire is put out.

Other options

Other options to consider when buying a safe might be:

  • Extra shelves
  • Twin key lock
  • Lockable drawers
  • Internal cupboards
  • Deposit safe features include: letter slots, Deposit drawers come in front, side & rear, rotary drums, capsule drops.


If you need any further advice on buying a safe, give us a call on 0800 389 6066 or email us at

Barrington Security

Be Safe, Be Sure, Be Barrington Secure

Barrington Security limited are agents for Barrington Watch Winders, Bordogna Group, Burg Wachter, Burton Safes, Charvat Safes, Chubbsafes, Britannia Safes, Dudley Safes, Igloohome, Phoenix Safes, Ring, Risco, Safescan, Scan Coin, Securikey & Suzohapp.

Choose the right safe for you