September 10th, 2014

TECH TIP: Handy Accessories for Your Gun Safe

October’s just around the corner — that means temperatures will be dropping soon in Northern climes. In a month or two, many of you will be putting your guns into storage for many months. To prevent rust from forming on your valuable firearms, you’ll want to control the temperature and humidity in your safe. By maintaining a warm temperature you can keep the relative humidity (in your safe) above the dew point and prevent moisture from condensing on your guns. One popular way to keep a safe warm is to use a Goldenrod. Though marketed as a “de-humidifier”, the Goldenrod tube is actually a simple electric heater. Placed in the bottom of your safe, the Goldenrod can help keep the relative humidity above the dew point.

Goldenrod for gun safes

Rope Lights — Light and Heat for Your Gun Safe
While Goldenrods work, they only provide heat, and Goldenrods typically retail for $20.00-$30.00. There is a less expensive solution that provides both light AND heat. A section of incandescent Rope Lighting will light up your safe AND warm the air. A 6-foot section of rope lighting costs about $6.00 at Lowes. The 6-foot strands can be linked together in longer chains. Rope Lighting can easily be installed in your safe with clips or velcro fasteners. One 6-foot long incandescent Rope Light draws about 18 watts of power — the same as an 18″ Goldenrod. Sheathed in plastic tubing, the incandescent Rope Lighting is slightly warm to the touch. A single 6-foot long strand of incandescent Rope Lighting maintains this Editor’s 23-cubic-foot indoor safe comfortably above 65° F all the time. (If you live in a colder area, or keep your safe in the garage, you may need a longer Rope Light, or a Rope Light in combination with a Goldenrod. Incandescent Rope Lights draw about 0.25 watts per bulb or about 3 watts per foot. Goldenrods draw about 12 watts per foot of length.)

Not All Rope Lighting is the Same — Incandescent vs. LED
Thus far, we’ve been talking about incandescent Rope Lights. For more money, you can also purchase energy-efficient LED ropes. LED Rope Lights draw much less electricity, but they won’t provide as much heat as incandescent Rope Lighting. It you use LED strands, you need to string longer sections to warm your safe. Or, just use LED strings for interior lighting only and then add a Goldenrod for heat.

Monitor Temp and Humidity with Thermometer/Hygrometer
To ensure that your safe’s interior is staying warm and dry, you can place a small temp/humidity sensor inside the safe. You can use either an Analog (dial-type) Thermometer-Hygrometer, or a battery-powered Thermometer-Hygrometer with digital read-out. Both digital and analog units can be purchased for $10 to $15 from internet vendors. Some of the digital units have dual temp sensors, so you can monitor the temperature both inside and outside your safe. That lets you gauge how well your safe-warming system is working.


WARNING: As with all electrical products, use caution with rope lighting. Follow manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid placing ropes in direct contact with paper or other flammable objects. Monitor surface temperatures.

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