Replace air handler

So we have a fried circuit board on our 12 year old carrier air handler. To replace the board is around $500. To replace the entire air handler is around $2,300. I haven’t spoken to the guy who would sell me either. I am not really sure what replacing the air handler entails. Would I get new condenser coil, and could I opt for one with higher efficiency even if I did not replace the outside unit? What is the life expectancy of the blower motor? I am trying to opt for the best deal, even if at first it costs more money. Any advice?

I have to replace my AC system this weekend, so I’ve been looking into this myself. (No AC in Arizona = hideous. It was 96 degrees in my house when I made a break for a hotel.)

If the board is all that needs replacing, and you can replace it by itself, I suggest you do so. You can buy a new air handler by itself, but the manufacturers and service companies much prefer that you buy a matched set. They’ll make you sign a bunch of disclaimers and you won’t get a warranty on the new air handler, because it’s not guaranteed to work with an unmatched compressor. There’s very little point in spending thousands on a new piece of equipment without a warranty IMO.

As for life expectancy, the unit I’m replacing is something like 25 years old. Aside from needing some minor repairs, the air handler is still going strong (it’s the outside unit that’s busted). Unless something irreplaceable breaks, like the coils disintegrate or something, repairs and preventive maintenance should keep it going for a long time.