What type of fire rating is best?
Before companies release their produced fireproof safes to the public, they need to be certified and tested first.
When looking for a worthy fire rating safe, it is best that you seek products that fire tests by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and Electrical Testing Labs (ETL). UL is an independent company that tests hundreds of thousands of manufactured products to make sure they perform to a certain quality and standards.
On the other hand, Intertek’s ETL tests a product if they meet the safety standards or not and is usually much faster than UL. Either of the certifications will ensure you that the fireproof safe you’re buying was tested to its extent.
Now that you know about UL and ETL classifications, it’s also important to know the different fire ratings. This is one way to know which fireproof safe is for you and which fire rating should you look for in a product. So, here’s a list of the UL Fire Ratings and which type we think is the best:
● UL Class 350 1-hour and UL Class 350 2-hour
The UL Class 350 1-hour fire rating means that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700° F, the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 350° F for at least one hour. While the UL Class 350 2-hour means the same for the external temperatures but the internal temperature will not exceed 350° F for at least two hours.
Both of these ratings are meant to protect paper records. However, the UL Class 350 2-hour has a higher level of protection.
● UL Class 125 1-hour and UL Class 125 2-hour
The UL Class 125 1-hour fire rating means that when exposed to external temperatures of over 1700° F, the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 125° F for at least an hour. For the 2-hour rating, the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 125° F for at least two hours.
Products with either of these class listings are designed to protect records stored digitally such as backup tapes, data cartridges, and CDs. In addition, these fire ratings do not allow humidity levels above 80% which can damage digital media.
● UL Class 125 3-hour
This type of fire rating means that when exposed to external temperature up to 1925° F, the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 125° for at least three hours. Products that are labeled with this class are ultimate in vital records protection, they are designed to protect records stored digitally such as backup tapes, data cartridges, CDs, and diskettes.
Now, let’s talk about which one is the best among them. The best fire rating differs for each one depending on what you need to protect and where you are located.
For example, you may be located in a rural or remote area that is not so close to a fire department. That means it’s best for you to consider the extra fire protection that a UL Class 2-hour or 3-hour rating can offer. But let’s say you live in a relatively close area to a fire department, you may not need to spend extra money with the higher fire ratings.
Why? Because typically a fire burns at 800° F for 20 minutes, which means that a UL Class 125 1-hour or UL Class 350 1-hour rated safe will work just fine.
What’s best fire protection for you depends largely on conditions such as location, things you need to keep in the safe, and the budget. Just take note that UL 125’s are made for any computer media, photographs, and pieces of jewelry while UL 350’s are for paper documents.
But if we disregard these conditions, the best fire rating is the one with the highest rating – UL Class 125 3-hour. This is because it is tested up to 1925° F.