Rotary wheel regenerator are described that use polymer, paper, metallic or other substrate having a parallel-plate heat transfer surface or media configuration. The substrate media can be either non-desiccant-coated "sensible" substrate, or "enthalpic" desiccant coated substrate. In exemplary embodiments, the spirally wound substrate media strips are arranged in a parallel plate manner using an embossed formation periodically to hold the strips in a parallel plate configuration. The strip layers are arranged so that every other layer is embossed and every other layer is without embossments. The embossed standoffs are not required to be aligned with one another periodically, and a parallel plate arrangement is achieved.