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Keeping gold and silver in your home safe: you should know that before buying a safe

In our large guide we would like to go into detail about the advantages and disadvantages of storing in your home safe, what you should pay attention to when choosing a safe and what you should know about security. We also give you numerous interesting tips on how you can optimally organize storage in your home safe.

Table of Contents

 

Weak points in the safe: Ex-professional burglar cracks safes


The safe for your home as a sensible storage option for gold and silver?

When it comes to physical investment in precious metals, there are several alternatives in terms of storage. Among other things, you have the option of keeping gold bars, gold coins, silver bars or silver coins in the bank safe. Another alternative is to store the precious metals in your home safe. We would like to prepare you as well as possible so that you can decide whether a safe is an alternative to a safe deposit box, hiding at home or bank-independent storage. We compare the various storage options in the guide to the storage of gold and silver.

What storage options are there for precious metal stocks?

If you are investing in physical precious metals for the first time, for example buying gold bars or silver coins, you are probably also dealing with possible storage for the first time. There are basically three different insurable safekeeping options for physical precious metals, namely:

  • Bank safe
  • Storage via a provider (precious metal dealer)
  • At home in your home safe / safe

The safe deposit box is not necessarily more secure than the home safe for your precious metals

Storage in a safe deposit box is a relatively safe, but not the safest way of keeping your precious metal holdings. In the past, there have been more frequent break-ins in banks, combined with breaking into the lockers. Then customers often have the problem that the content is not even insured. Often the customer only signs a lease for the bank safe, but no additional insurance in the event of loss or theft of the contents. The disadvantage of a safe deposit box is that the safekeeping is associated with costs. These are - depending on the size of the locker - on average between 100 and 300 euros per year.

Another possibility of safekeeping is for the precious metal dealer from whom you purchased the bars or coins to take care of safe storage. This applies in particular to large precious metal dealers, we, who often take care of the storage of stocks in external high-security vaults. In that case, however, you have to trust the provider that your personal inventory can be identified at all times and that it is actually stored securely. With reputable providers you have the enormous advantage - compared to the bank safe deposit box and especially compared to the domestic safe - that it is the safest form of storage. On the one hand, the stocks are kept in high-security areas. A significantly higher level of security than with banks. On the other hand, the insurance usually always takes place at the current equivalent value of the stocks - there is therefore no risk of underinsurance because you have failed to increase the sum insured in line with the increase in value of the precious metals.

The third option of safekeeping precious metals - like safekeeping in a bank safe - is also used very frequently: storing coins and bars in a safe. Many precious metal owners only feel safe if they have access to gold coins, gold bars, silver bars or silver coins in their own vault at all times. Numerous owners of physical precious metals can not be dissuaded from the plan of self-custody, although the storage in the home safe tends to be a little less secure than the safekeeping in the bank safe. Nevertheless, the security in your own home can be significantly increased if you pay attention to a few points - for example when choosing the safe.

In our table below, you can see the main characteristics of the different types of storage in an overview, comparing the storage alternatives:

Storage typesecuritycostsaccessanonymity
Bank safehighcurrent annual rentopening hoursContents unknown
Precious metal dealersdepending on the providerfree to small feeupon requestNo
Safe at homelow to mediumacquisition costat any timeYes

Main dangers of the safe at home: burglary and theft

The home safe is less secure than the bank safe because the risk of intruders visiting your home is significantly higher than if a bank and all lockers are cleared out. In addition, professional burglars in particular can break into almost any safe relatively easily these days and steal its contents. Therefore, when choosing the right safe, the main thing is that it offers the greatest possible resistance when attempting to break into the safe. You should definitely pay attention to this when choosing, especially if you want to store relatively high values ​​in your home safe, such as gold coins or gold bars.

In the event of damage: prepare an inventory list

In order to avoid problems with the insurance in the event of damage, i.e. break-in / break-in of the safe or theft, it is advisable to draw up an inventory list. This contains a detailed list of the individual bars, coins and coin bars. You can optionally add photos of the holdings to this list. You should also keep the receipts / invoices in a safe place. The best thing to do is to keep your inventory list along with evidence and any photos in a sealed envelope either in the safe deposit box, in your home office or with a trustworthy person. You can also keep the number combination in this sealed folder. If something should happen to you, this ensures that another family member can open the safe as well.

When choosing the safe, note: Resistance grade and properties

First of all, we would like to deal with what you should pay attention to when choosing a safe. Of course, this is about the already mentioned, as high as possible resistance. It is helpful that the safes offered on the market are classified according to their security according to resistance classes on the basis of the EU standard EN 1143-1. On this basis, the following levels of resistance can be distinguished:

  • I: 1x (relative resistance)
  • II: 5x
  • III: 11x
  • IV: 19x
  • V: 31x


What does the relative resilience mean? Let's take a safe with resistance grade IV as an example. In this case the relative resistance is "19x". Compared to a safe of resistance class I, this means that another safe with resistance grade IV is actually 19 times as resistant.

What properties should a security safe have?

A main criterion for the selection of the safe in which you can store your precious metals is first of all the resistance class. In addition, the safe for the home should have other properties. These are mainly used to make it as difficult as possible for burglars and also to protect against other dangers, such as fire or blocking bolts, so that you may no longer be able to open your own safe. The most important features of a good and recommended safe include:

  • Certification of the safe according to European standard EN 1143-1
  • Armor thickness of at least seven centimeters
  • The hinges should be on the inside
  • Safe has at least resistance grade III
  • Emergency locking on the inside, so that the bolts block in the event of a forced break-in attempt
  • Safe should be able to be anchored on at least one side
  • Double locking or opening mechanism (key + numeric input or setting wheel)


If you pay attention to these characteristics, you have come a good deal closer to your goal of extremely secure storage of your precious metal stocks in your home safe.

How big should the safe be?

There is no general answer to the question of the size of the safe, as it depends on individual needs. The safe should of course be at least large enough to accommodate all planned precious metals such as bars and coins. If you are planning further acquisitions in the future, you should of course take this into account when selecting the safe size. However, the size of the safe also has something to do with security. Burglars don't always intend to break into the safe on site. Sometimes it makes more sense for thieves to take the entire safe with them and then try to break into it in peace.

What is also important for the right size is the space that the precious metals take up that you want to store in your safe at home. With gold, platinum and palladium there is usually no space problem due to the high values, so that smaller safes are often sufficient. After all, a 1-kilogram gold bar, for example, is only around 12 x 5 x 1 centimeters in size, but still has a value of around 50,000 euros. With ten such bars stacked on top of each other and partly next to each other, your safe would only have to have dimensions of, for example, 25 x 10 x 10 centimeters in order to be able to store the equivalent of almost half a million euros.

The situation is different with silver, however, because the value of a 1 kilo silver bar is only about one eightieth of a gold bar. Therefore, with the following table, we would like to give you an idea of ​​how big your safe would have to be with different values ​​and number of bars of silver. A 1-kilo silver bar from Degussa, for example, has the dimensions 120.5 x 55.5 x 16.5 mm. At the end of 2020, such a bar has a value of around 630 euros.

The equivalent of the silver barsNumber of 1 kilo silver barsMinimum dimensions of the safe (safe size)
5,000 euros813 x 10 x 8 cm
20,000 euros3226 x 10 x 16 cm
50,000 euros8030 x 20 x 20 cm
100,000 euros16050 x 30 x 30 cm
200,000 euros32080 x 50 x 30 cm
500,000 euros800150 x 80 x 40 cm

 

With regard to security, the size of safes means that, of course, a large safe is significantly heavier or sometimes not transportable at all than a smaller safe. So if you want to make sure that your home safe cannot be easily removed by burglars, you should opt for a fairly large safe with minimum dimensions of, for example, one meter high and 80 centimeters wide. Another option, if you prefer a smaller safe, is to anchor the safe firmly in the brickwork or elsewhere in the house. We will go into this in more detail below.

Storage of the safe: where is the best location?

In addition to the highest possible security of a safe for the storage of your precious metals, the choice of the optimal location in your house is not insignificant. Contrary to popular belief, most experts advise against hiding the safe very well. On the one hand, it should not be immediately obvious to every visitor. On the other hand, you shouldn't hide your safe in the house where it cannot be found.

The reason is that burglars should realize as quickly as possible that they are likely to encounter barely surmountable resistance in your safe. The location should therefore be a good mix of not immediately recognizable and still be able to be found relatively quickly for professionals. The location is also about which room or part of the building you should place the safe in. First and foremost, the following rooms are recommended by experts for the safes:

  • basement, cellar
  • Office space
  • bedroom


The basement is particularly suitable for larger safes, because these are usually difficult to accommodate in other rooms on the first or second floor, if only because of their weight. Office rooms are also well suited for medium-sized safes. The bedroom is particularly suitable for smaller safes because burglars have to overcome an additional “hurdle” when entering your bedroom at night, while they may be able to tamper with the other rooms completely unnoticed.

Safe installation location with regard to weight and statics

At this point, let's go into a little more detail about the suitable location for your safe with regard to the weight of the safe and the statics of the house / room. Safes often have to be stored in the basement because the weight of the safe can only be carried there due to the statics. So you cannot easily accommodate a safe above a certain weight on the ground floor or on an upper floor. The weight of the precious metals in the safe must of course also be taken into account when calculating the statics.

If you do consider this location, you should definitely hire a structural engineer beforehand. This will clarify whether the load capacity is given in the desired room as the location for the safe. Often one possible solution is to place a pressure distribution plate under the vault. You should also bear in mind that the safe has to be transported to the corresponding room and that there may be damage to your stairs on the way there.

Is it advisable to anchor the safe?

Anchoring the safe in your home is almost always recommended. Usually, burglars can even remove some of the safes weighing more than a ton - with the appropriate tools. It is therefore always advisable to provide the safe with appropriate fastenings. It is important that at least one wall of the safe is anchored.

Locking technology: number combination or safe key?

A not entirely unimportant question for many owners of a safe or future owners is whether the safe should be opened with a combination of numbers or a key. The recommended locking technology are digital locks that are opened by entering a combination of digits. The digital locks are very reliable these days. You only have to make sure that you change the batteries in good time, but there is a corresponding display for this.

In this context, digital locks have a great advantage, especially with regard to the lowest possible health risk to the residents in the context of a possible break-in or attack: They can be configured in such a way that, for example, two people must always be present to enter the correct combination of numbers . In addition, there is usually the option to set a time delay for opening. This makes it much less attractive for burglars, because most thieves do not want to stay in the relevant apartment for 20, 30 or even more minutes.

A tip in this context is that not only one person knows the combination, but several family members. The reason is that the otherwise sole owner of the combination may not be present during the break-in and therefore family members are threatened who have no knowledge of the combination. This threat situation can definitely be reduced if selected family members, for example the spouse, also know the correct combination of digits for the digital lock.

Tip: If you opt for the single or partial key opening mechanism, there are two storage options for the first key, namely in the house or externally or on your key ring. However, you should definitely store the duplicate key externally, for example with people you trust, such as parents.

Security level of the safes as a criterion


In a previous section, we already explained that the security of safes is measured, among other things, by the resistance or the so-called resistance classes. In addition, there is also a breakdown into security levels, which are particularly important with regard to the value in the safe. On this basis, the safes available on the market are divided into the following categories with regard to VdS Schadenverhütung GmbH for the private sector:

 

VdS standardGuideline sum insured
S1 (EN 14450)up to approx. 5,000 euros
S2 (EN 14450)up to approx. 20,000 euros
Class 0 / Nup to approx. 40,000 euros
Class I.up to approx. 60,000 euros
Class IIup to approx. 100,000 euros
Class IIIup to approx. 200,000 euros
Class IVup to approx. 400,000 euros
Class Vindividually


For the commercial sector, the sums insured are staggered slightly differently, namely as follows:

VdS standardGuideline sum insured
Security level 0 according to EN 1143-110,000 euros
Security level 120,000 euros
Security level 240,000 euros
Security level 3100,000 euros
Security level 4150,000 euros
Security level 4KB250,000 euros
Security level 5250,000 euros
Security level 5KB375,000 euros
Security level 6375,000 euros
Security level 6KB500,000 euros


Info: The insurance sums listed above increase in some cases significantly, for example due to the presence of an alarm system or structure-borne noise detector on the safe, as this reduces the risk of break-ins. As a rule, the sums insured even double if a burglar alarm system is installed. See also our guide to burglary protection

How should I insure the contents of my safe?

Many safes nowadays meet very high security standards. Nevertheless, resourceful and professional burglars succeed time and again in opening even the supposedly most resilient safes. It is therefore absolutely advisable that you do not rely solely on the “resistance” of your safe, but that you insure the contents. How high the sum insured should be, of course, depends on the value of the contents of your safe. When concluding the insurance contract, remember that you may need to store additional precious metals later.

In addition, the holdings are expected to increase in value over the years due to price increases in gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Then your sum insured may no longer be sufficient, even if you have not increased the stocks. We therefore recommend that you determine the value of your holdings at regular intervals - for example every 3 months - based on the current precious metals and check whether the sum insured is still sufficient.

As part of the regular household contents insurance, valuables that are stored in a safe in the house are also insured. However, the limit is usually relatively low and normally amounts to a maximum of 20 percent of the total sum insured. This means: If you have taken out your household contents insurance with an insured sum of 80,000 euros, the coins or bars in the safe are usually insured for a maximum of 16,000 euros.

If this amount is not enough, it is advisable to either speak to the household insurance and take out additional and higher insurance for precious metals in the safe. Alternatively, you can also opt for special theft insurance, which explicitly provides protection against valuables such as precious metals that are securely locked in the safe. In this regard, however, the insurer will ensure that the corresponding security level of the safe is in an acceptable relationship with the sum insured and the valuables in the safe.

Buy a safe: What about the transport?

If you decide on a new safe to store your precious metals there in the future in the form of bars or coins, the question of transport arises, among other things. You can usually transport smaller and medium-sized safes up to a weight of 100 or 150 kilograms with one or two other people. From a certain court, however, it becomes difficult or even impossible, so that in this case a company must be commissioned to carry the safe into the house.

It is important that it is a reputable carrier. After all, it is very obvious that you will keep valuables in the new safe. It is therefore absolutely inadvisable to commission individuals via well-known portals on the Internet, for example. They could use their knowledge of the new safe or pass it on to other people who are certainly up to no good. Hiring a furniture transport company is also not recommended. Instead, it is the optimal solution if you choose a safe seller who also takes care of the professional transport at the same time.

It all depends on the right choice! Some online shops offer free transport for safes. However, this usually ends at the curb. You should therefore - at an additional cost - choose a provider who actually delivers the safe to the desired installation location. In addition, it is usually possible to have the assembly (anchoring) carried out for a further small surcharge. In this context, a professional transporter will "inspect" the delivery route before delivery in order to know where there are possible obstacles on the way and whether the dimensions are sufficient for the transport route (doors, etc.).

When delivering, please keep in mind that this always poses a certain security risk. The delivery of a (larger) safe will always attract attention in the immediate vicinity. Neighbors and possibly “bystanders” then know that you have a safe in the house.

Pay attention to the quality of the safes

A good safe is not only characterized by the highest possible security standard, which is known to be divided into different classes on the basis of resistance. One problem is that numerous safes are now produced abroad, so that the quality is sometimes poor. This does not necessarily refer to safety, because this is often checked and confirmed by VdS Schadenverhütung GmbH, despite production abroad. Rather, it is about the material and the wear and tear of the safe, which can be enormous if it is poorly manufactured. Typical defects are, for example:

  • Knocked out hinges after a short time
  • Bad material
  • Safe doors that jam quickly


With regard to the quality of the safe, you should therefore pay particular attention to the material and workmanship of the hinges. Hinges made of hardened steel are particularly recommended, but these are rarely found on the market today. For this reason there are quite a few experts who advise not to purchase any of the current safes on the market. Instead, it may make more sense to opt for safes that were produced at the beginning of the millennium. The reason is that the general quality at the turn of the millennium was on average (significantly) better than it is today.

But it is not only with regard to the workmanship and the material that experts advise across the board to opt for somewhat older safes. Another reason is that modern safes are easier to “crack” than older models because the door wall is now thinner. In addition, most “safe crackers” are still very brutal and want to open the safe as brutally as possible. Thus, some modern security mechanisms are relatively superfluous, because only a few intruders will try to find out the combination of numbers. Instead, it is much more common that attempts are made to open the safe with mechanical means, for example with a Flex.

Tip: One way to save costs on safes is to ask the dealer / seller of safes about used models. Since safes are almost “unbreakable”, but used safes are (significantly) cheaper than new models, you often have a cost advantage with the same quality.

What does a good quality safe cost?

In particular, provided that you choose your home safe for cost reasons, so that you don't have to rent a bank safe, the purchase price you have to reckon with for the "safe at home" plays a role. Here, in turn, it depends on the features already mentioned, i.e. size, quality and degree of security. However, if you want a reasonably good, secure and qualitatively reasonable safe, you have to spend at least 1,000 to 2,000 euros as a minimum for small to medium-sized models, according to the experts.

Numerous safes, which are offered for example in hardware stores for 100 or 200 euros, are primarily used for fire protection and less for safe storage from professional "safe crackers". With increasing safety and quality, the price also increases, so that it is often an individual decision how high quality and safety should be. You should make this dependent, among other things, on the equivalent value you want to store in the safe. In this regard, it certainly makes a difference whether you want to store a few silver coins with a total value of less than 1,000 euros in the safe or whether you want several gold bars with a total value in the five-digit range.

The following table gives an overview of the average costs that you should expect depending on the security class:

Security classAverage price
EN 1143-1 VDS class 0300 to 500 euros
EN 1143-1 VDS class 1500 to 800 euros
EN 1143-1 VDS class 21,000 to 2,000 euros
EN 1143-1 VDS class 31,500 to 3,000 euros
EN 1143-1 VDS class 42,500 to 4,000 euros
EN 1143-1 VDS class 55,000 to 6,000 euros

Advantages and disadvantages of storing precious metals in your home safe

Towards the end of our article we would like to summarize once again the advantages and disadvantages associated with storing precious metals in your home safe.

advantages

+ Access to bars or coins at any time
+ Anonymous custody
+ no running costs for the safe itself, but for the insurance (household insurance)
+ Insurance of values ​​against theft possible
+ Safekeeping of many bars or coins

disadvantage

- higher service steel risk than bank safe
- many inadequately secure safes on the market
- higher acquisition costs
- The sum insured for household items is often insufficient

Decision-making aid: where do I keep my precious metals?

Towards the end of our article, we would like to provide you with a plan to help you decide how to find the right place to store your precious metal stocks that best suits your situation and the circumstances. The main thing is whether you want to decide against or in favor of your own safe at home.

  1. Think about how many precious metals, in what form and with what value you would like to keep safe now and in the future
  2. Make a cost comparison between storage at home and external (bank safe or storage via the dealer)
  3. Do a risk assessment (storage at home vs. bank vs. retailer)
  4. Talk to family members whether they want safekeeping at home or whether it would be okay
  5. If you decide on the safe at home, determine the installation location and clarify the details and feasibility with the transporter


Conclusion to the home safe: safe storage of precious metals possible