Selling Home Safes

A safe rating label indicates the minimum standards to which a safe has been rated. Not all brands of the safes in a specific category offer the same protection.


Underwriter’s Laboratories conducts physical tests to test the integrity of the safe and attempt to defeat it. The entry level test is the Residential Security Container (RSC) test. This five-minute test is used to see if UL technicians can gain entry into the safe using specific tools and methods. For example, there can be a five minute drilling test. If not successful, there will be additional tests each for five minutes. Some of the tests include prying, hammering, etc. If entry is not gained, the safe passes the test.

The RSC test is not required for any safe in order to be sold. However, a safe must pass the test in order for manufacturers to attach the RSC label to the safe model.

Note: Safe manufacturers design and print their own Residential Security Container (RSC) labels that include their identification number. Some insurance rated “B” and “C” burglary (and burglary/fire) safe manufacturers have their safes tested, enabling the safes that pass the RSC test to carry the RSC label.

Additional UL tests include the TL-15 and TL-30. A TL-15 safe must successfully resist entry for a networked time of fifteen minutes. A TL-30 must successfully resist entry for 30 minutes. The test includes attacks by common mechanical and electrical hand tools including carbide drill bits and grinding tools.

Underwriters Laboratories has UL 72 - Tests for Fire Resistance of Record Protection Equipment including safes and filing cabinets. Fire-resistant record protection equipment is rated by the type of media. For example paper, photographic film and computer disks. The length of time (minutes) at this level of protection (temperatures up to 2,000-degrees Fahrenheit). The longer the test, the higher the temperature.

The temperature noted on a UL label indicates the maximum temperature allowed inside the fire protective product during the test. For example, if the temperature inside a safe exceeds 125°F with an 80% humidity restriction during the time frame, it will fail the UL test for diskettes and other flexible media.

Important: If your customer wants to store media for long periods of time in a fire safe, it is strongly recommended moisture absorption be installed as long periods of high humidity can damage computer media.

To add a bit of confusion, there are stand alone media containers designed to provide specific protection. However, when the media container is placed into a rated fire safe, the media containers’ level of protection increases.

NOTE: There are a number of testing agencies. For example, import safes that are rated can be rated in North America or usually at their country of origin. Every testing agency does not have the same tests.  In addition, not every testing agency is as competent as other agencies.

The line between commercial and residential is becoming almost impossible to identify. This is because many of the home safe purchases are as large or larger than the average commercial safe. 

safe displays

Locksmiths who have a storefront can sell safes. A few square feet of floor space is enough because it is extremely difficult to sells safes from a catalog or advertising slick.

Start small, have a couple of different size safes to make the showroom.  Start with two “B”, “C”, RSC  and fire/burglary safes. Two fire rated gun safes; one full size (approximately 60” x 30”) and one smaller. Two in-floor safes. lift-out lid and hinged lid (larger). Two inexpensive plastic fire boxes, and an RSC burglary with one hour fire safe. This way customers can get a sense of the products available. Safes can always be ordered, enabling you to sell a customer a larger or higher level of protection. Make sure the safes you have on display are not damaged or the finished is marred.

IMPORTANT: Safes must be dusted at least daily, as customers will think the safes are unsellable if they are not clean and shiny.

When you have a customer considering purchasing a safe:

• Find out exactly what your customer wants and how much they are willing to pay. Know the pricing of a few safe companies to be able to give your customer options and choices.

• A customer will usually pay more for a safe if they know a better products is available.

• Most larger safes, i. e. gun safes are kept in the garage.

• Sell higher safe protection instead of a gloss paint job.

• Educate your customer, explain what the labels and certifications mean.

• An in-floor safe offers greater protection than the same rated safe sitting on the floor.

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