Which lockbox is best?
Every year fire causes over $6 billion in damage to homes and businesses, while water damage costs an additional $2.5 billion. You may not be able to stop fire or water damage to structures, but you can prevent your valuable items and documents from being destroyed by using a reinforced lockbox.
Lockboxes are an easy and affordable way to protect important papers like birth certificates and passports, jewelry, rare coins, photographs and other items of significant financial or sentimental value. Many lockboxes are fireproof and waterproof. They also can be a theft deterrent. There are many choices available in the marketplace. For overall durability and protection, the top choice is the SentrySafe Fire-Safe Waterproof File.
What to know before you buy a lockbox
Lockboxes are excellent deterrents for minor theft. However, they likely will not stand up to a serious effort to steal your valuables if the thief has the right tools and motivation. If you are extra concerned about the possibility of your valuable items being stolen, your best deterrent may be a safe. In general, safes are sturdier and have thicker walls and doors than lockboxes.
Some lockboxes can be quite heavy to move around. Some units are designed without handles, which makes transporting even harder. If your lockbox will be staying in the same place, then portability is not a concern. But if you need to take the lockbox to different locations, look for ones that are lightweight and have something to hold onto.
Since the lockbox likely won’t always be at your side, you may want to consider a security cable that you can attach the lockbox to an immovable object for extra assurance while you are away. These cables can be purchased separately, although some models include one.
What to look for in a quality lockbox
There is no substitution for steel for overall protection from fire, water and theft. Keep in mind that steel is heavier and more expensive. Plastic lockboxes, while often having steel reinforced corners, are still easier to break into. Make sure you look for a lockbox made of steel to make sure your belongings stay safe.
Type of lock
A key lock is the simplest form of lock, but there is always the risk of losing the key. Combination locks offer numerical codes that are often difficult to decipher. The quality of the combination lock is the most important consideration. Keypad locks are the most reliable and have more possible combinations by using 10 numbers.
Biometric locks, which use your fingerprint, are typically reserved for gun safes. They remain the most advanced type of lock available.
Most lockboxes claim to be fireproof and waterproof. However, they won’t do much good if those claims aren’t accurate. To ensure these claims, look for lockboxes that have been certified by Underwriters Laboratories or Intertek. That certification means that the box meets the criteria of the highest level of both fire and water protection.
How much you can expect to spend on a lockbox
The range in prices for lockboxes starts at $10-$20 for a basic unit and goes as high as $200-$300 for lockboxes with biometric locks. The majority of lockboxes sell for $30-$100 and have multiple features, including fireproof and waterproof construction.
Is there a difference between fire resistant and fire retardant?
A. The terms are very similar and refer to a material’s ability to self-extinguish when exposed to fire. Fire-resistant materials are inherently resistant to catching fire, while fire retardant materials have been chemically treated to keep from burning.
Can you reset a lockbox combination?
A. It depends on the lockbox. Some allow you to change the combination when the lockbox is open. Be sure to read the instruction manual initially to see what the process is in case you lose the instructions later on. As a last resort, seek out a locksmith who likely can help you reset the lock to the factory default.
What’s the best lockbox to buy?
What you need to know: This versatile lockbox stands up to fire and flood while protecting your most valuable documents.
What you’ll love: This insulated file has built-in straps for special documents but also holds letter-size folders and hanging files. The lockbox is fireproof and waterproof and Underwriters Laboratory (UL) classified. It features a flat key lock to prevent the lid from opening unexpectedly.
What you should consider: The file is almost forty pounds and does not have a handle. The keys are flimsy and have been reported to break.
Top lockbox for the money
What you need to know: This is an affordable lockbox that provides basic fire protection for all your valuable documents.
What you’ll love: Made from fire-retardant steel, the double-insulated walls in this lockbox are lab tested. The unit contains two keys and can hold up to 9-by-12-inch documents.
What you should consider: This lockbox is not waterproof. The key can sometimes jam in the lock.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This durable lockbox withstands fire and water with a large opening and sturdy build.
What you’ll love: This lockbox remains waterproof even when fully submerged. It is fireproof at the highest tested temperature for up to 30 minutes. There is storage for letter-sized documents. For extra protection, it comes with a clamp latch and key.
What you should consider: It can be difficult to move due to its weight and lack of a handle.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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