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When one goes to install an electrical subpanel is it required to install a "main" breaker in the subpanel to shut off all the circuits in the panel?

Or is it sufficient to just have the feeding breaker from the main panel be the shutoff for the subpanel?

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It's a convenience, but:

The breaker capability is unnecessary (and you can't make it trip locally first). However most breakers are actually combo devices, breaker+shutoff, breaker+GFCI, etc. Those auxiliary functions are useful.

In an outbuilding, the shutoff switch is mandatory. In other locations like hot tub, a GFCI may be mandatory. You would use main breaker panels there to obtain that auxiliary function.

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