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What you need to know when you buy a safe

Posted: Wednesday, 18 December 2013 @ 14:05
Buying a safe can be a complicated task. With so much to look for and so many
different variations and options, you’d be forgiven for thinking it would be
simpler to just keep your valuables and cash under your mattress!

Don’t despair though – BDB is here to help you and we know safes; we know
them really well. We realise buying a safe is not a simple task so here’s our
jargon-busting guide to safe terminology and wording, including a helpful list of
cash cover and safe grades.

The safe jargon guide

  • Cash rating: The amount of cash you can keep in your safe overnight asset by the AiS (Association of Insurance Surveyors).
  • Jewellery rating: The value of jewellery you can keep in your safe. 
  • Although you won’t often see ‘Jewellery rating,’ this is simply 10 times the cash rating of a safe. (£1,000 cash rating would be £10,000 jewellery cover).
  • Insurance rating: The amount of insurance cover for cash or valuables kept in a safe overnight. 
  • Cash safe: A safe designed to hold and cover your insurance for cash or valuables set by the AiS.
  • Fire safe: Fire safes, or fireproof safes, are primarily for the protection of paper documents in a fire. They provide fire protection for various durations.
  • Data safe: Data safes are also fireproof but specifically designed to protect data and electronic items in a fire.
  • Eurograded safe: These are cash safes, but tested to the EN.1143-1 standard for protection and cover for your cash and valuables.
    1. Grade 0 - £6000
    2. Grade 1 - £10,000
    3. Grade 2 - £17,500
    4. Grade 3 - £35,000
    5. Grade 4 - £60,000
    6. Grade 5 - £100,000
    7. Grade 6 - £150,000
      • Fire resistant: Applies to some cash safes for the protection of paper butmay not be tested. This is not to be confused with protection or fire safes as they are built differently and offer different protection.
      • EN.1143-1: European standard testing against burglary attack on Eurograded safes.
      • EN 1047-1: European standard testing against burglary attack on fire and
        data safes.
      • VDS class: German testing standards on security and safe locks.• VDMA: Approved and recommended certificate of fire protection.
      • Non VDMA: Low end fire protection and not approved.
      • NT Fire: Fire testing carried out in Scandinavian testing houses.
      • BS 7582: British Standard for reconditioned safes.
      • A.E.D: Anti-Explosive Device. This will offer protection against attack by
        activating a secondary locking device preventing the door from being
      • Live A.E.D: Live Anti-Explosive Device. A device attached to the main
        locking mechanism which remains in the active position if the lock is
      • Passive A.E.D: Passive or ‘dead’ AED held in position with wires. The
        wires are forced to break when the safe is attacked which then starts the
        secondary locking mechanism.
      • Glass plate: Some safes have a toughened glass plate protecting the
        vital areas of the safe’s locking mechanisms. Wires or cables from the AED
        will be attached to the glass and when the safe is attacked the glass
        shatters and send the AED into action.
      • Detachable Key: Many high security safes will have very long keys
        making them difficult to carry around. With a detachable key, the key
        section can be removed from the stem making the key shorter and easier
        to carry.
      • Boltwork: Locking bolts to each side of the safe door. The size of a safe
        will determine the size and diameter of the bolts.
      • Time delay: A pre-set time (in minutes) before a lock can be opened.
        Pre-set times are usually between 1-99 minutes and can be activated by a
        key or an electronic lock.
      • Time lock: Mechanical time locks available in analogue or digital. The
        time is set by hours and days with a master key, and are set to tell the
        safe when it is never to be opened. A time lock can permanently secure
        your safe overnight or at the weekends for example. The settings can be
        changed with the master key.
      • Mechanical combination lock (MCL): 3 or 4 combination locks opened
        by dialling the correct sequence on the safes dial.
      • KC lock: Keyless combination lock. Another term for an MCL.
      • Anchoring: The fixing of a safe to a floor or wall.
      • Base fixing: The fixing of a safe to the floor.
      • Biometric safe: Fingerprint recognition locking safe. Opened with
        fingerprint technology and no keys.
      • Key override: Fitted to lower end and budget electronic safes in case of a
        lock out.
      • Electronic lock: Keypad operated lock with 4 – 8 digit codes to open the
        lock. Electronic locks are commonly powered by a battery but some are
        connected to the mains. Also known as a digital lock.
      • Dual locking: A safe fitted with two locks. These can be any two locks,
        not just two key locks or two electronic locks. Some duel-locking safes
        have a key and electronic lock for example.
      • Duel control: This type of safe requires two people to open the safe for added security.
      • Double-Bitted key lock: High security keylock used on some safes.
      • Deposit safe: Safes designed for the deposit of cash or valuables into
        with the need to open the safe. Ideal for a safe in a shop or a building with
        many staff who need to put items or cash into a safe without allowing
        them to take anything out. Types of deposit safes can include:
        • Capsule deposit: small plastic canisters 100 x 30mm in diameter which can be dropped into a special shoot into the safe body
        • Letter slot: Rectangular shaped 250 x 25mm and designed for
          letters and small items. The letter slot is found on the top of the
        • Rotary drum deposit: Large rotating drum fitted to the top of a
          safe and designed for depositing large items.
        • Drawer deposit: A lockable pull-out drawer above the safe’s door
          designed to store large items.
        • Day safe: A temporary safe for storing cash and valuables during the day.
          This type of safe will not have insurance cover overnight.
        • Vaults and strongrooms: Burglar-proof and fireproof rooms built within
          a building’s structure.
        • Demountable and modular strongrooms: Sectional construction for
          easy installation within an existing building.

        We hope this is helpful for you. Remember that BDB is a family-run business dedicated to helping you with every stage of your decision. We’ll always try to speak in non-technical terms for you, and we’ll offer the best advice when you need it.