Protect Your Documents from fire

Essential fireproof document safe

A fireproof document safe is something you hope you’ll never need to test, but when the time comes, it’s worth far more than its price. Honeywell’s 1114 Fireproof Chest tops our safe tests. It withstands higher heat and longer fires, with better water resistance.

Honeywell 1114: fireproof document safe

Other safes offer more fire protection, but not for documents like our top picks. Drawbacks include higher costs (often triple) and excessive weight (at least 100 pounds). Also, a fire expert suggests longer protection times may not offer significant benefits.

Honeywell’s 1114 Chest, certified by Intertek, defends items for up to an hour in 1,700°F—twice as long as others. It withstands spray and flood water for 100 hours. Despite weighing 42 pounds, like a mini fridge, its extra protection justifies the size and cost, enhancing survival chances in a disaster.

Note that fire scenarios vary. On the positive side, it has a smaller footprint and weighs only 28 pounds. Just keep in mind that Union Safe does not offer key replacement services, unlike other brands.

The Honeywell 1108 Fire/Water Large File Chest is a larger version of our top-pick safe, boasting the same one-hour fireproof rating. Weighing 84 pounds, it stores letter- and legal-size file folders, perfect for organizing documents. However, due to its size and weight, it can be challenging to move.

Who Needs this Fireproof Safe for Their Vital Documents

Honeywell 1108: fireproof document safe

Fireproof document safe protect valuables from fire, water, and theft, ideal for home or office use. They’re ideal for storing irreplaceable documents like passports and birth certificates, as well as small items such as hard drives or USB sticks. For travel, finances, or preserving photos, a fireproof document safe offers peace of mind.

While fireproof document safes offer protection, they’re not burglarproof or indestructible vaults. For high-value items like jewelry or precious metals that require infrequent access, consider a securely anchored floor safe or a safe-deposit box at a bank. These safes are also not suitable for storing firearms.

Fireproof document safe.

Safes may trap humidity, so airing them out regularly is advised. Consider storing items in airtight containers. For more tips on care and maintenance, refer to the section below.

For more tips on care and maintenance, refer to the section below.

How We Chose the Best Fireproof Safe for Your Important Documents

We prioritized compact fireproof document safes for easy storage, excluding larger professional or gun safes. These safes are sturdy and secure, yet still portable enough to be moved when needed. We specifically sought safes that are fireproof, waterproof, and equipped with reliable locking mechanisms to deter potential intruders.

Best fireproof document safe.

The market is dominated by three major brands—First Alert, Honeywell, and SentrySafe—although there are a few others with smaller offerings.

Criteria we considered when selecting models to test and recommend:

Certified Fire Protection Rating: Most fireproof document safes undergo testing and receive ratings from UL and Intertek, indicated by the ‘ETL’ mark.

UL’s consumer safety director, John Drengenberg, outlined their testing process, involving exposure to specific temperatures and durations in a furnace and drops from three stories. Safes typically last 30 minutes at 1,550 °F or endure 60 minutes at 1,700 °F, offering higher security. They must maintain internal temperatures to protect various contents. Fire protection engineer Larry McKenna recommends investing in the best safe within your budget, considering modern furniture’s faster combustion.

Water Resistance Rating for Your Crucial Documents: UL and Intertek don’t test safes’ waterproof capabilities. We relied on manufacturers’ claims and tested them ourselves. Fortunately, none leaked.

fireproof document safe

Security: While these safes aren’t expected to be burglarproof, a reliable locking mechanism is crucial. We ensured that the keys or keypads consistently unlocked the safes.

Build quality: A sturdy safe not only offers better protection for your belongings but also provides peace of mind. We avoided models with parts that easily broke off, prioritizing durability.

Size: We reviewed safes in two sizes: document and larger ones for file folders. Document safes fit letter-size papers without folding. Smaller safes are budget-friendly, unless you need a larger one. We considered space and weight for each safe.

Price and availability: Investing $50+ ensures a fire-resistant safe. We explored pricier options for better protection. Find reputable retailers with free shipping.

Our Evaluation Process for Vital Fireproof Safes

fireproof document safe

In 2016, we conducted our initial testing on several safe finalists, including models from First Alert, SentrySafe, and Honeywell. To simulate a house fire, we constructed a plywood room with drywall to radiate heat, observing how each safe performed.

While this test wasn’t about complete destruction, we aimed to assess their resilience. Each safe was filled with standard contents, and after subjecting them to intense heat, we evaluated their condition and resistance to water from a fire hose.

In subsequent tests, we used our findings to inform our recommendations, focusing on fireproof ratings and build quality. We also assessed their durability by loading them with paper and folders and checking for weak points. In 2021, we continued our testing with additional models from Honeywell, SureSeal by FireKing, and the Union Safe Company.

Our Choice: Honeywell 1114 Portable Fire and Waterproof Safe

fireproof document safe

The top choice for safeguarding your important documents from fire and water damage is the Honeywell 1114 Lightweight Fire and Waterproof Chest.

It outperforms other home or office document safes from reputable brands by enduring hotter fires for longer periods.

Honeywell claims this safe can keep water out for up to 100 hours. With its spacious interior, accommodating documents of various standard sizes like letter, A4, and legal, it offers versatile storage options. The secure lid attachment and hydraulic hinges prevent accidents and add to its user-friendly design.

fireproof document safe

Intertek rates the Honeywell 1114 to endure temperatures of up to 1,700 °F for one hour while maintaining the internal temperature below 350 °F. It exceeds typical standards, surpassing our budget pick rated for 1,550°F for 30 minutes. Larry McKenna, from the US Fire Administration, notes rooms can blaze for over an hour, reaching 2,000°F. He suggests lower levels, where safes are often placed, may have lower temperatures, making 1114 sufficient. It’s essential to remember that every fire situation differs.

The Honeywell 1114 also boasts digital media protection and waterproofing under a meter of water for up to 100 hours, although these claims are based on Honeywell’s internal testing. Unique features like the lid’s hinge system, which prevents finger injuries, set this safe apart. Additionally, dual latches on either side of the lock enhance security by keeping the lid firmly closed. With an internal capacity of 0.39 cubic feet, the 1114 offers ample space, accommodating unfolded sheets of paper.

Honeywell backs this safe with a seven-year manufacturer’s warranty and a ‘lifetime after-fire replacement guarantee,’ demonstrating confidence in its durability and reliability.

Considerations to Note

fireproof document safe

The Honeywell 1114, with its dimensions of 20 inches wide and 17 inches long (similar to a mini fridge), may pose challenges in smaller living spaces where floor room is limited. Weighing 42 pounds due to its larger size, moving it may not be as effortless as smaller alternatives. Though weight boosts security, frequent relocation may pose inconvenience. The 1114 lacks a digital keypad for entry, unlike some competing safes. Although not essential, a keypad provides an additional way to access the safe without relying on a physical key. While none of our current recommendations offer a keypad, it’s a feature we consider for its convenience.

Budget-Friendly Pick for Document Protection: Union Safe Company’s Fireproof and Waterproof Document Safe

The Union Safe provides a cost-effective option to protect vital documents. Available exclusively at Harbor Freight, this safe provides a lower UL certification compared to our top pick, the Honeywell 1114. While adequate for most fires, consider higher protection if budget allows.

Fire and Waterproof Chest

The safe prevents water damage for 24 hours during full submersion, ensuring document protection. Despite lacking latches, the double-locking mechanism ensures security with a tubular key and knob. Also less space, it fits letter-size papers and suits smaller areas, making it suitable for tight spaces. Additionally, it is lighter and features a handle for easy transport. Notably, Union Safe Company doesn’t replace lost keys, potentially causing inconvenience if misplaced.

A Spacious Choice for File Organization: Honeywell 1108 Fire/Water Large File Chest

Fire and Waterproof Chest

For organizing documents, consider the Honeywell 1108 Fire/Water Large File Chest, like our top pick, the Honeywell 1114. It can withstand temperatures up to 1,700 ºF for an hour and holds letter- and legal-size hanging file folders, offering over a cubic foot of storage. However, it’s the heaviest safe we’ve tested, weighing over 80 pounds, which can make it challenging to move despite the small grips on its outer edges.

Fire and Waterproof Chest
Dealing with Humidity in Your Fireproof Document Safe
Fire and Waterproof Chest

Humidity can pose a problem for fireproof document safes, as they tend to trap moisture, which can potentially harm the items stored inside. Many safe manufacturers address this issue in their manuals and guides.

Fire and Waterproof Chest

For instance, First Alert advises placing important documents, currency, jewelry, and other delicate items in an airtight, dishwasher-safe container, and recommends ventilating the safe by opening it for 20 minutes every two weeks.

Similarly, SentrySafe suggests using an airtight container for items like jewelry with moving parts, watches, stamps, or photos, and warns against storing pearls in its safes.

Meanwhile, Honeywell’s instruction booklet recommends airing out the safes once a week for 30 minutes.

Humidity levels vary by location and season, so follow manufacturer recommendations. Check your safe contents every two weeks for humidity effects. Most safes include a large silica gel packet to absorb moisture, aiding humidity regulation.

Fire and Waterproof Chest
Fireproof Safes for Organizing Documents
Fire and Waterproof Chest

The Honeywell 1106 is pricier than our budget pick for file-folder safes, and it lacks the extended fire resistance of our top choice in this category.

As for SentrySafe’s FHW40200, it showed the same flaws as the CHW30100. Its faceplate easily detached, and water seeped in during our fire test.

We cannot endorse the SentrySafe HD4100. Despite its better build quality compared to other models from the brand, the widespread and serious issues we’ve encountered make us hesitant to recommend any SentrySafe model.

Ensure the safety of your important documents with the right fireproof document safe. Whether you’re looking for top-tier protection like the Honeywell 1114 or a budget-friendly option from Union Safe Company, there’s a safe tailored to your needs.

Remember to follow maintenance tips to keep your safe in optimal condition. Protect what matters most with a reliable fireproof document safe today.

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