Gun safes are designed to protect firearms, ammunition, and other equipment from theft and fire. However, these storage spaces are not safe from the effects of condensation. Most gun owners may even store other valuables in the gun safe, including cash and documents, which are made of materials that are prone to moisture. When moisture builds up inside your gun safe, this can cause mold growth, and rusting and corrosion of metals, potentially leading to gun malfunctions.
To avoid any damage caused by condensation, you need a dehumidifier to control moisture inside the gun safe. There are different types and sizes of dehumidifiers made for many different purposes. For a gun safe, cabinet, closet, or any similar small storage space, you can use either electric or non-electric types depending on the size of the space and the climate in your place. When using a gun safe dehumidifier, its placement is also critical in ensuring its efficiency.
Why do you need a dehumidifier in your gun safe?
A gun safe is particularly prone to excess moisture and its damaging effects. A tightly sealed space that you don’t frequently open will have warm air trapped inside together with the moisture from materials like paper or fabric. The moisture from these items evaporates into the air with nowhere else to go.
When the warm, moist air hits a colder surface, like the walls of the safe or any metal inside, the air cools down and forms condensation. Too much of this can cause metals to tarnish, rust, and corrode. While this can be visually unpleasant, it can also weaken the material of metals in your firearms, ammunition, and other gun accessories, or even the safe itself.
Too much moisture can also lead to mold and mildew growth. This is particularly harmful to organic materials like wood, fabric, and paper that you may have stored in any free space inside the gun safe. To prevent this, a dehumidifier works to reduce moisture buildup inside the gun safe.
Types of Gun Safe Dehumidifiers
Dehumidifiers come in many different types and sizes. There are two types of dehumidifiers commonly used in gun safes and other similar storage spaces: electric and non-electric or desiccant dehumidifiers.
Where to Put an Electric Dehumidifier
The electric dehumidifier rod works more similarly to a heater than other dehumidifiers. It does not directly reduce humidity by pulling moisture from the air but rather, it circulates warm air by heating up the rod itself. The heated air stabilizes the temperature and prevents condensation inside the safe. The expansion of the heated air also forces out the moist air through tiny cracks in the safe doors.
For large gun safes with a built-in electrical outlet or pre-drilled holes for the power cord, a dehumidifier rod may be the most efficient solution to moisture. These dehumidifiers come in different sizes, usually from 12 inches to 36 inches long. They also include mounting brackets and a plug attachment for easy installation.
Since hot air rises and cold air sinks, the best placement for a dehumidifier rod is on a horizontal position at the bottom of the safe to increase efficiency. Measure the dimensions inside the gun safe and get the longest rod that can fit inside to provide the required heat. If you have a tall safe, you can also place multiple dehumidifiers with one in the middle and another at the bottom for maximum coverage. Manufacturers typically indicate the cubic feet area each dehumidifier can cover.
The main advantage of electric dehumidifiers is the very little maintenance you need to do. All you need to do is install it, plug it in, and the space will stay warm and dry all day and night. The only downside to electric rods is the need to connect the plug inside your safe or drill holes if necessary. It might also be inconvenient for some to have an electric appliance plugged in all day.
Where to Put a Desiccant Dehumidifier
The other type of dehumidifier for gun safes is called a desiccant. The main difference from electric rods is that a desiccant doesn’t actively use electricity when working. Desiccant dehumidifiers use some kind of hygroscopic chemicals that absorb moisture from the air until they are fully saturated. This type can either be renewable or disposable.
Renewable desiccant dehumidifiers typically use silica gel to remove moisture. A canister of 500 to 750 grams of silica gel beads can hold a total of 4 to 6 ounces of moisture. Once the full capacity is reached, the beads change color. In this case, you will need to reheat or recharge it either by plugging the unit into a power outlet or putting it inside an oven. This can take anywhere from two hours up to 12 hours.
The main advantage of the desiccant over the electric type is the former consumes very little power. You only need to recharge it every few weeks and it can be renewed repeatedly for several years up to a decade. However, a silica gel dehumidifier cannot reduce humidity significantly. It can only keep moisture and musty odors away in a tiny, enclosed space.
Simply place the unit in a corner inside the safe and it will start working to prevent moisture. It’s best to put it closest to where all the moisture-prone items are located. Just make sure to check the dehumidifier at least after three to four weeks to recharge it on time.
Disposable desiccants or moisture absorbers can also be used inside a gun safe. Unlike renewable silica gel dehumidifiers, these moisture absorbers dissolve into the liquid when saturated, so you can’t reuse them. Once all the moisture-absorbing crystals are gone, you must dispose of the liquid and replace the product. Its size and capacity are similar to silica gel models.
Why do you need the correct placement for a gun safe dehumidifier?
When choosing a gun safe dehumidifier, you need to find the correct type and size for your space. Furthermore, the placement of your dehumidifier can greatly affect its performance and efficiency. For example, if you place an electric rod on the top part of the gun safe, it will take more time and consume more power to heat the entire space evenly.
The temperature and relative humidity outside your gun safe can also impact the amount of moisture inside. If you live in a humid region and you place your gun safe in a typically damp room like the basement, then you may need a more powerful dehumidifier for your gun safe. Sudden changes in temperature outside the safe also lead to further condensation inside. When the temperature drops significantly, the warm, moist air inside the safe also cools down fast, resulting in condensation.
Thus, if you live in a region with high humidity climates or you often experience extreme changes in temperatures, it’s especially important to install your gun safe dehumidifier in the right location. Ensure that the gun safe has enough space to fit a dehumidifier rod along with its cord and plug. Otherwise, you may have to place multiple desiccant units inside the gun safe.
What is the best way to place a gun safe dehumidifier?
The first thing you can do is to find a dry location to place your gun safe. If you live in a humid area, avoid the parts in your house with the highest humidity levels like the basement. Choose a shaded area with adequate ventilation and airflow. In addition to your gun safe dehumidifier, you may also use an air conditioner or dehumidifier in the room for more precise humidity control.
After every week or two, open your gun safe for at least 20 to 30 minutes to let some fresh air in and help dry up the moist air. Check the contents and look for signs of moisture to see if your dehumidifier is doing its job.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid moisture inside a tightly enclosed space such as a gun safe, especially if it contains moisture-prone materials like paper and fabric. To prevent excess moisture from settling and damaging other items, you can add moisture-absorbing products to your dehumidifier. You can use salt, baking soda, calcium chloride, or packets of silica gel in a bowl or any container and then place it inside your safe.
Dehumidifiers of any kind can only work efficiently if you learn where and how to use them properly. There are many types and sizes of dehumidifiers designed for different applications. To keep all the contents of your gun safes free from moisture and mold, and prevent rust, you must choose the right type of dehumidifier and find the best placement for it.
Electric dehumidifier rods are ideal for larger gun safes with a constant power source available. This type must be placed at the bottom part of the safe for maximum efficiency. Desiccant dehumidifiers are suitable for almost any space, but especially for a tiny storage area such as a gun safe or cabinet. How many dehumidifiers you need also depends on the size of your safe. Whatever type of dehumidifier you choose, make sure to get the right size and placement for the best results.